Results Realty Buzz: Crape Myrtle murder in Spring-Tomball-Magnolia TX!!

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Crape Myrtle murder in Spring-Tomball-Magnolia TX!!

Crape Myrtle murder has started early in Spring-Tomball-Magnolia TX this year. I have been driving around watching the landscapers out pruning for the last few weeks. The sad thing is that there’s absolutely no reason to scalp murder a tree the way they do. I expect many of you have heard the story of Grandma’s roast. It seems Grandma cut the end of the roast off, so Mom cut the end of her roast off and so on. Finally someone got around to asking Grandma why she cut the roast off and her answer was so it could fit in the pan. To me that’s a good analogy of the crape myrtle murder that goes on in our area. From everything I have read and actual experience I cannot see that it does any good to the Crape Myrtle tree.

I made the small video above showing exactly what I’m talking about. We are having subnormal cold weather right now and I also hope these trees don’t go into shock.

There are a lot of different ideas on how to take care of the crape myrtles. You see varying degrees of pruning to not pruning at all. I did quite a bit of research and the general consensus was that they should be lightly pruned. Over pruning reduces the number of blooms. I also read where there is a mistaken belief that lopping off the tops of all the branches is necessary to promote flowering. This is what is called Crape murder.

Flowering on a crape myrtle occurs on the new branches that are produced in the spring; so light pruning in late winter encourages the production of flowering branches. One of the articles said that if the trees are tipped back lightly after the first flush of bloom, some trees are likely to bloom a second time. Cutting the trees back heavily can shock them and slow down the growth of flowering branches. If you don't prune at all this article said the flower clusters that emerge in the summer will be smaller but more prolific.

From everything I have read over pruning where people chop the crape myrtle back to the knuckle each and every year reduces the number of blooms that will be produced during the summer and the new branches that do grow will be far too long and will not be able to support the weight of heavy blossoms; especially when they get wet. Thus these long branches often break off during heavy rains and our area is known for those heavy rains.

As I was posting my video I found the video below and he gives some excellent advice on how to take care of your crape myrtles.

Not being originally from this area dealing with crape myrtles has been a new and learning experience for us. When we first moved here we lopped off those branches every year and then wondered if we had bought dwarf crape myrtle. The last few years we tried the method that I have described here and not even pruning at all. You can see from my picture below that we have had a wonderful success not pruning. The picture was taken at dusk as it just set the flowers off.

Crape Myrtle at dusk in Spring TX


Copyright © 2011 Marchel Peterson, All Rights Reserved. *Crape Myrtle murder in Spring-Tomball-Magnolia TX!!*

Comment balloon 23 commentsMarchel Peterson • February 04 2011 11:05AM


So true, Marchel, they will grow into beautiful trees if you let nature take its course.

Posted by Teral McDowell (Referral Patners LLC) over 8 years ago


Such sad business!
I have been showing a home in a neighborhood of very nice custom homes.  One corner lot has about 8 crape myrtles, which should be among the most beautiful I have ever seen.  The calipers are in the 5" range.
And they are all topped at about 10 feet.

And the ornamental trees behind are all topped at about 12'--14'.

It puts a knot into my stomach every time I drive by.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 8 years ago

I've heard pro and con's but I agree let nature take care of business. I don't think they needed to be pruned but that is just my opinion. They are beautiful when in bloom.

Posted by Carl Winters over 8 years ago

I crinch each winter when I see crape mrytles being chopped like that.

Posted by Loreena and Michael Yeo, Real Estate Agents (3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co.) over 8 years ago

Ack... crepe murder! I love those trees, why would anyone feel the need to murder one!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 8 years ago


Crape Myrtle Murder indeed.  I'm sure if this type of pruning falls under the category of helpful and nourishing... g

Posted by Cherise Selley, Colorado Springs Realtor (Selley Group Real Estate, LLC) over 8 years ago

TERAL, By NOT scalping our trees we have prettier and healthier trees.

MIKE, I have a heart for nature and gardening and seeing those poor scalped trees just makes me sick.  Maybe someone will see my post and stop the crape murder.

CARL & CEIL, I have done quite a bit or research on this over the past few years and the experts do not think they need to be pruned way back.

LOREENA, I'm with you and this year it seemed to start early.  We are barely getting out of the freezing range today and here are these poor naked trees.  It is a skating rink here!!!

ANDREA, I'm impressed that you are familiar with them.  I did not know what they were until moving to the south.  They are beautiful if left on their own.

CHERISE, It is so sad what people do to these trees.  If only they would check Google before they prune!!


Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) over 8 years ago

Marchel, I see them cut back, but maybe cutting them back a little does not hurt. Some do get chopped back way too far.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) over 8 years ago

The landscapping companies that take care of business landscapes do it too. It drives me crazy. I just noticed this when I drove past El Chico in Huntville yesterday. Theirs are chopped back too. I know that they do not do their own landscaping.

Posted by Joni Bailey, Your Huntsville / Lake Livingston Area REALTOR® (101 Main St. Realty) over 8 years ago

I am not much of a gardener but it does seem like cutting them back so much, especially in the winter is a little off. 

Posted by Steve Scheer, Highlands Ranch Real Estate - Denver Real Estate (Realty Oasis - Metro Brokers) over 8 years ago

"Crape Murder" - What a great label to put on that practice!  We have that happen occasionally here in Sacramento as well.  You've done your part to begin a campaign to alter the annihilation!

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) over 8 years ago

Marchel,  Love the "grandma analogy" - sums it up perfectly! Great that you're getting the word out there - they are destroying such beautiful trees (I love Crape Myrtle) and for no good reason! Hope you can help turn this around! BTW - love your voice - it so matches with the way you look - classy!

Posted by Kristine Ginsberg, NJ Home Stager (Elite Staging and Redesign, LLC) over 8 years ago

Hi Marchel,

You know I think you should send a link both videos to your city/county maintenance services. It's a shame to do this to the trees.

Posted by Lynda Eisenmann, Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co (Preferred Home Brokers) over 8 years ago

Marchel, my Dad knew about Crape Myrtles and he always said to let them grow. Great title for your post!

Posted by Maria Morton, Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758 (Chartwell Kansas City Realty) over 8 years ago

Marchel, I wonder why they don't know more about the pruning process if they're responsible for these beautiful trees/bushes.  It's like watching a butcher hack at the meat instead of slicing it.

Posted by 'The Diamond Group' 'A Cut Above The Rest', Lubbock Texas Real Estate (The Diamond Group @ Keller Williams) over 8 years ago

Marchel--I do not know about Crape Myrtles, but my own husband is so proud that he found someone CHEAP to prune our trees.  Cheap is not always the answer.  I had to go out and chase them away form things or everything would have been murdered.  I think some people just look for a bargain without giving it any thought!!

Posted by Pat Haddad, ABR, CRS, ePRO, GRI, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield IN Real Estate Expert (Keller Williams Indianapolis Metro NE) over 8 years ago

GARY,  I have heard the same thing but so many people get carried away; there's just no reason to scalp them. 

JONI, I agree that the landscaping companies are the main culprit.  The vidoe I made was in a subdivision and I expect they contract the yard maintenance out.

STEVE, They are pruning way early.  I have heard the ultimate pruning day is to start at valentine's day.  For us we are having a hard winter.

MYRL, I'm all for stopping the annihilation of crape myrtles.  I have to admit I use to trim way back myself as everyone else did.  I love the Google feature where you can look for just about anything.  That is how I found out it is called crape murder.

KRISTINE, that grandma analogy has been floating around in my head for years now as I watch these poor trees being scalped.  I appreciate your kind words about my video.  I made several and this one had less um's than the rest (lol).  I'm fairly new at making these videos.


Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) over 8 years ago

LYNDA, The link to our city/county unfortunately would not help.  We live in an unincorporated area and about the only thing the county does is mow the grass when it gets knee high and have the prisoners pick up the trash.  I'm hoping that more people will read about this and get the word out that it is not necessary.

MARIA, Your Dad gave wise crape myrtle advice.

ELIZABETH, I think it just boils down to the fact that they have always done pruning this way.

PAT, It comes back to that old adage that you get what you pay for; doesn't it!

Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) over 8 years ago

Marchel~Spread the word! Maybe local media will do some educational pieces on the topic? Pruning and mutilating sure seem different to me.

Posted by Liz Lockhart, GRI, Cape Girardeau Real Estate (Riverbend Realty, Cape Girardeau, MO) over 8 years ago

I for one am HORRIBLE at keeping my Crape Myrtle trimmed correctly. I try not to beat it up, but It has had its fair share of trimming bruises.

Posted by John Cannata, Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance (214-728-0449 over 8 years ago

Hey Marchel,

wow, they really did cut those pure trees down to nothing. It really is sad, people tend to do this because of money reasons or it's just easier for them to maintain a.k.a lazy.  Great video and way to bring awareness.

Posted by Laura Cerrano, Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher (Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island) over 8 years ago

Hi Marchel--I agree it seems like murder to me-those are so beautiful-what a waste

Posted by Tim Peterson, Realtor Safety Training Classes (Wisconsin Realtor Safety and Concealed Carry Classes) over 8 years ago

The contrast of those over-trimmed myrtle trees are those that are not trimmed every year, and they grow SO huge and beautiful. I saw I tree on a property not long ago that was as big as a live oak. It had been there 50 years, and they NEVER trim it, unless it gets in the way of the lawn mower. I never understood why people go for the nuckle look.

Posted by Amy Law (Alliance Properties) over 8 years ago

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