Are You Committing Crape Murder?

January 26th, 2024

Are You Committing Crape Murder

Crape myrtles, known for their beautiful and vibrant blossoms, are a popular choice among homeowners and landscapers alike. These lovely trees and shrubs are a staple in many gardens, providing a burst of color during the summer months. However, there's a common and harmful practice that often takes place when it comes to crape myrtles – "Crape Murder." Keep reading because we are going to delve into what exactly crape murder is, how to avoid it, and how you can properly care for your crape myrtles to ensure their health and longevity.

What is Crape Murder

Crape Murder is a term used to describe the improper and aggressive pruning of crape myrtle trees and shrubs. This practice typically involves severely cutting back the branches and stems of the crape myrtle, leaving behind unsightly stumps or stubs. The result is a tree that looks mutilated and unnatural, with branches that shoot out like broomsticks. This method is not only visually unappealing but also harmful to the overall health and vitality of the crape myrtle.

Why Do People Commit Crape Murder?

Crape Murder often occurs due to misconceptions about the best way to care for these plants. Some of the reasons people commit Crape Murder include:

  1. Size Control: Homeowners may prune their crape myrtles excessively to keep them small and tidy, thinking it's the best way to maintain a manageable size.
  2. Faster Bloom: Some believe that severe pruning will result in more flowers and a more impressive display of blossoms during the summer.
  3. Aesthetic Misconceptions: Misguided aesthetic preferences may lead people to think that the natural shape of crape myrtles is unattractive.
  4. Lack of Knowledge: Many people simply don't know how to properly care for their crape myrtles, and as a result, they resort to what they believe is a straightforward method of maintenance.

The Consequences of Crape Murder

Crape Murder may seem like a quick and easy way to maintain your crape myrtles, but it comes with a host of negative consequences for these beautiful plants. Here are some of the primary issues associated with this harmful practice:

Weakened Structure

Severely cutting back crape myrtles leads to weak and spindly branches that are unable to support the weight of the blossoms. This can result in branches breaking and a generally unstable structure, making the tree more susceptible to damage from wind and storms.

Reduced Bloom

Contrary to popular belief, Crape Murder does not lead to more flowers. In fact, it often results in fewer blooms the following year. This is because the plant expends energy on regrowing branches instead of producing blossoms.

Increased Vulnerability to Pests and Disease

The exposed stubs left behind after the Crape Murder are an open invitation for pests and diseases. These wounds make it easier for insects and pathogens to infiltrate the plant, causing further harm.

Loss of Natural Beauty

One of the most apparent consequences of Crape Murder is the loss of the crape myrtle's natural beauty. Instead of the graceful, vase-like shape they naturally develop, you're left with an eyesore of thick, protruding branches.

How To Revive Crape Myrtle Trees

If your crape myrtle tree has fallen victim to over-pruning and started to develop unsightly knuckles, it is possible to revive it. You must begin by eliminating the nubby clusters to make way for fresh shoots to grow. While you'll notice thin and weak shoots emerging at the start, your goal is to thin them out so that the stronger trunk prevails. As new shoots appear, prune all but 3-4 of them, ensuring they are evenly spaced.

The revival process doesn't end there; it's an ongoing commitment. Over the next two years, you'll continue aiding the tree in regaining its vigor. Trim off any new shoots that sprout beyond the initial ones you saved, and remove side branches from your selected shoots. This deliberate pruning helps shape the emerging shoots into robust, dominant trunks.

By the third year, your crape myrtle tree will have returned to its former, strong self. Once this transformation occurs, you can resume caring for it in the proper manner, free from the clutches of crape murder, and watch it flourish once more.

How to Properly Care for Crape Myrtles

Now that we've discussed the problems associated with Crape Murder let's explore how you can properly care for your crape myrtles to ensure they thrive.

Prune with Purpose

Pruning should have a specific purpose, such as removing dead or diseased branches, improving air circulation, or shaping the tree for aesthetic reasons. Avoid drastic, indiscriminate pruning that removes more than one-third of the plant's branches.

Prune in Late Winter or Early Spring

The ideal time to prune crape myrtles is in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This allows the plant to recover and generate new growth during the growing season.

Selective Pruning

When pruning, focus on removing smaller branches and any growth that crosses or rubs against each other. Promote a natural vase-like shape by trimming branches that grow inward or upward.

Remove Suckers

Suckers are small shoots that sprout from the base of the crape myrtle. These should be removed as they can divert energy away from the main plant.

Mulch and Fertilize

Applying a layer of mulch around the base of the crape myrtle helps retain moisture and insulate the roots. Additionally, a balanced fertilizer can provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

Water Wisely

Crape myrtles are drought-tolerant once established, but they still require adequate water, especially during dry spells. Deep and infrequent watering is generally more effective than shallow, frequent watering.

Pest and Disease Management

Monitor your crape myrtles for signs of pests or diseases and take appropriate action if needed. Regular inspection can help you catch issues early and prevent severe infestations.

Patience is Key

Remember that crape myrtles naturally take a few years to reach their full potential and develop a beautiful, natural shape. Be patient and allow your tree to grow and flourish over time.

Keep Your Crape Myrtle Tree pest-free with Green Solutions

At Green Solutions, we understand the importance of preserving these stunning trees without resorting to harmful pesticides. Our solutions are designed to combat common crape myrtle pests, ensuring your tree remains pest-free and thrives naturally. With our expertise, you can enjoy the full splendor of your crape myrtle tree. Choose Green Solutions to keep your crape myrtle tree pest-free and flourishing.

Remember, the beauty of a well-cared-for crape myrtle is a sight to behold, and it's a testament to your dedication as a responsible and knowledgeable gardener. Say no to Crape Murder and yes to the natural elegance and resilience of these remarkable plants. Your garden will thank you, and so will the environment.