Many of us in North Carolina are cleaning up the yard after the big storm that blew through this week. With temperatures slowly rising, it’s also a great time to do some pruning to ready your plants and trees for Spring. February and March are ideal times to prune Crepe Myrtles. Before you start chopping away with the clippers, spend some time learning about the best way to prune these trees, and above all, don’t murder your Myrtles!
Crepe Murder is a somewhat popular gardening term that refers to cutting the tree back too far and/or topping the tree. You end up with something like this:
It’s well-known that a Crepe Myrtle’s potentially biggest pest is the gardener or landscaper who prunes it back this way every year. Maybe it’s out of habit or self-perpetuated (you see the neighbor did it, so you think you should too), but don’t do it. The practice is destructive and could result in shorter bloom time, delayed flowering, weaker branching, and problems with insects or disease.
Pruning a Crepe Myrtle involves enhancing its natural form rather than trying to make it fit in size or shape to an area too small for the tree. If you haven’t pruned your Myrtles in a few years, you might also notice that the branches get weighed down and droop during heavy rains. Seems like a great idea to cut it back and give it a fresh start, right? Wrong- stop right there. Don’t be tempted to give it a buzz cut thinking it will help the tree because, in fact, it could harm it.
How do you know if your Crepe Myrtle needs pruning? Look at the direction the trunks and branches grow. Follow the trunks up to where they start to branch, focusing on the inner branches first. If multiple branches are growing into the center of the tree, crossing over other branches or trunks, go ahead and remove them. Using a pruning saw, remove the branches by cutting just above the branch collar, rather than flush with the trunk. A well pruned Crepe Myrtle should look something like this:
For additional information or to get started on your spring landscaping, give us a call at 919-844-3441 or visit our website and see for yourself some of the work we’ve done for satisfied customers. We’d love to talk with you about your landscape architecture needs.