As a former master gardener, it was drilled into my head NOT to commit crepe murder by hacking the branches off the tree.
We were trained in the art and science of “drop crotch pruning.” This means you drop or slide your arm down until the shears hit a juncture of two or more branches (or crotch). That’s where you make the cut. YOU DON’T just hack branches willy-nilly in the middle where there are no nodes. And you certainly don’t cut all of the branches at the same radius from a central point. This, my dear friends, is crepe murder.
This year, he murdered it again, only he did it later in the season so she looks terrible. She looks like a person with no torso or neck…just a stumpy thick legged bush with cankles and all of the beauty stunted. ugh!
He should have concentrated more on keeping her looking more like a tree by removing the suckers at her base.
Crepe myrtles bloom on new wood, and they do need a good pruning, without a doubt. They should be pruned in the January-February timeframe using the drop crotch method so that it retains its beautiful and graceful form.
I have told him not to do this in the past, but he obviously isn’t listening. I will show him these photos and tie myself to the crepe myrtles next season to stop this madness!
To drop-crotch correctly, find a branch that points inward, crosses or touches another branch, or you think would benefit the tree’s health or appearance with its removal.
Next, hold the pruners as if to cut the branch, but slide your hand down until the pruners hit the junction of two or more branches (the crouch).
You should only cut at these junctures and never in the middle of a branch. Make sure the cut is clean and doesn’t leave a nub off the branch from which you cut it. Typically, two new shoots will form at this spot, which will make the tree fuller and it will prepare new growth for more blooms.
Crepe myrtles bloom at various times in the summer months for about a month. They have panicle type florets and come in colors ranging from white, red, lilac, pink, and magenta. Also, the leaves may be green, red, or deep burgundy to black.
In addition, different varieties grow to just one or two feet tall, others may grow to four or five feet, some top off at 12 feet, and yet the larger varieties may hit 25 feet or more! There is so much diversity in this group! I’ve even seen some in hanging baskets!
I’ll update these photos as the trees come into fuller bloom.
I have since mail ordered several pink baby crepe myrtle shrubs that will mature to a height of 2-feet. I planted them in front of a row of crinum lilies in the flamingo garden. Right now, one is looking sad, one is looking partly sad and the rest are doing great. It’s only been two days so I will keep an eye on the really bad one and I may have to intervene and put him in the shad for a tad. They are in the ground in good garden soil and have a thick pine bark mulch over their base.
I also just planted five pink crepe myrtle medium sized shrubs expected to get to 4-foot in the backyard garden. They are still quite small but should grow significantly this summer. Looking forward to them blooming in a year!