Crepe Murder – How Not To Trim Your Crepe Myrtles

Welcome to Maverick’s Landscaping’s ‘Top Cut Blog, where we’ll be discussing all things landscaping: irrigation, maintenance, weather, and more. In this blog, we’ll give homeowners best practices and recommendations as it relates to caring for and making the most of your home and community green spaces. Today’s topic is a heavy and harmful horticultural crime: Crepe Murder. Yes, you read that right- Crepe Murder (not Myrtle).

What Is It: Crepe Murder is a rampant crime that occurs throughout Central Florida. Usually, the murderer is a well-intended homeowner attempting to trim their Crepe Myrtle. Good intentions and a bad understanding of how Crepe Myrtles should be trimmed result in the beloved tree being severely butchered and sometimes even murdered.

How It Happens: Well-intending homeowners butcher their Crepe Myrtles indiscriminately, usually by cutting them flat across the top of the tree. This ‘buzz cut’ results in a once gorgeous tree being reduced to short, thick ugly knobs. (see above picture)

Crepe Murder: The beautiful Crepe Myrtle is a tree, not a bush. Therefore, it shouldn’t be pruned or trimmed aggressively. When Crepe Murder occurs, it leaves unsightly and knobby ‘knuckles’ which is a defensive response of the plant to the attempted murder that occurred. As a result, patches of ‘whips’ or switch-like growths sprout from these knuckles. The weak whips aren’t strong enough to stand on their own. When flowering occurs, they collapse even further in an ultimate sign of defeat and bad times looming for the tree.

How To Prune Crepe Correctly: Maverick’s Landscaping expert arborists recommend: selective pruning, trimming outer and lower limbs, misdirected limbs, and thinning existing limbs. Here are some best practices Do’s and

✗ Do not indiscriminately cut all branches off in a buzz-cut.
✗ Don’t allow your neighbor to coach you on how to trim your Crepe Myrtle.

✓ Trim branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other.
✓ Prune in late Winter (February)
✓ Cut low shoots first
✓ Trim branches growing inward
✓ Cut all trims to the main branch, don’t trim branches fractionally.
✓ Shape younger saplings by trimming smaller limbs away.
✓ Always try to trim progressively (50% in the first trimming, 50% in the final) and avoid
removing too much of the tree at once.

We hope today’s “Top Cut Blog” provided value about your Crepe Myrtles and their care. As always, we hope you enjoy your landscaping and lawn projects and that they bring you and your family together.
Wishing you great growth.

-Team Mavericks

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