January 21, 2018
Every year at this time, a horticultural crime spree occurs, and the Horticulture CSI Unit is back in action. This time of year, we see countless cases of crape murder, and Crape myrtle is the victim. I’m going to share some pruning tips to keep you from being the perp! We see this crime against horticulture all around us where someone has hard pruned their crape myrtles to control their size. The trouble is crape myrtles are extremely resilient to being butchered. They bloom on the current season’s growth and the bad pruning is glossed over, not to mention the gross, enlarged knots on the branches. And let’s face it, just because you can, doesn’t make it right. Here are some tips on how and where to prune your crape myrtles. First, decide if you even need to prune. Start at the base and remove any suckers. These will always grow whether the tree is pruned or not. Remove branches that are growing back towards the center of the canopy. Also remove branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other, cutting back to a larger branch. Remove seed heads in late winter or early spring only if they are within reach. Once the tree becomes a tall, mature plant, allow nature to take its course. It’ll be OK. If you’d like more information on selecting the proper size, pruning and feeding of crape myrtles see the Mississippi State University Extension publication Crape Myrtle: Flower of the South.If you use these pruning tips it will help to Stop the Crap and Save the Crapes. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.