Crape Myrtles are a staple in the South, and for good reason. You can find them sprinkled throughout Georgia mainly because of their gorgeous showy flowers and smooth trunks. In fact, their flowers are so beautiful, their name is inspired by flowy crepe fabric. Oasis President Kevin Paulen calls them “one of the most vibrant flowering trees out there, especially when they get plenty of sun.” Originally from Asia, they made their way over to the US by Frenchman Andre Michaux, when he brought them to South Carolina in 1786.

You would think that since this beautiful plant has been here for almost 300 years proper pruning of the Crape Myrtle would be common knowledge. Unfortunately, that is just not the case. The flowers themselves only make up a fraction of Crape Myrtles’ beauty. Shape and form also add to the elegance and grace of the plant. Yet pruning “gone bad” butchers the Crape Mrytle’s natural elegance. The main culprit is…. “Crape Murder”.

What is “Crape Murder?”

Crape Murder, also known as “topping,” is when you top or prune off the upmost parts of Crape Myrtles, transforming a beautiful tree with gracefully arching limbs into what looks like a disfigured group of sticks. So why would gardeners (and shockingly many landscapers) do this? For one, it’s easier and less time-consuming than pruning the tree properly. Secondly, some believe that it will create new blooms, but in fact the opposite is true. According to Ross Day, Vice President at Oasis, “if you don’t Crape Murder them, they will leaf out faster and have more blooms.”

Others do top off the Crape Mrytle because they fear the tree will grow too tall. Lastly, people are swayed by peer pressure. Since Crape Murder is such a common practice, people may see the butchered trees in their neighbors’ yards and think they need to do the same.

But when you commit Crape Murder, this is what you actually do to the tree:

The Proper Way to Prune Crape Myrtles:

Here are four tips that will help you correctly prune- not murder- your beautiful Crape Myrtles.

  1. Prune to Reduce Height:
  2. Thin out the Trunks:
  3. Removing Seed Pods:
  4. Use Sharpened Tools:

Crape Myrtles are graceful trees that can add a touch of beauty to any landscape. Their smooth bark and elegant shape, combined with their gorgeous flowing flowers are worth all your effort in care. Remember, respect its natural beauty – don’t maim this beautiful tree by committing Crape Murder.

One way to ensure this never happens is to give Oasis Landscapes & Irrigation a call at 770-609-1871 or contact us online. We will be sure to properly prune your gorgeous Crape Myrtles!