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Crepe Murder

Crepe myrtles are the premier summer flowering tree of the south. Their showy summer flowers, attractive bark and brilliant fall color make them year-round garden performers.

All crepe myrtles bloom on new wood. This means that the flowers form on stems produced during this season. The best time to prune crepe myrtles is late winter or early spring. This will increase next summer's flowers. If we want to create a small shrubby habit, or if that is the natural shape of the variety we have chosen, let's prune off the spent flower clusters and thin out small twiggy growth. To maintain compactness and eliminate a leggy look, cut branches nearly to the ground this time of year.

On our larger tree forms remove suckers at the base of the plant and gradually remove side branches to about 4-5 feet. This will expose the trunk's handsome bark. If you do want to remove a larger branch, we want to take it all the way back to the next largest limb. Never cut into a larger branch! We call this CREPE MURDER. It causes fingering or numerous small branches immediately above the cut and destroys the striking vertical form of the tree. If someone has already committed crepe murder and you have numerous branches coming out at one point. Select one of the straightest branches that lines up with the lower part of the branch (show) and prune off all the other smaller branches at that point. This will encourage the remaining branch to grow quickly and within a year or two it will fill out and the knot will disappear.

In the South, powdery mildew is a terrible problem on crepe myrtles. Look for mildew resistant varieties. Some of the best are those introduced by the National Arboretum in Washington DC. Many of these bear the names of Indian tribes such as Acoma, Biloxi, Comanche, Hopi Muskogee, Natchez, Sioux, Tuskegee, Yuma and Zuni


Parker Andes/Callaway Gardens - Spring Plants
Soul food
Sharpen Tools
Pansies/Callaway Gardens
Timely tips

Check out Callaway Gardens website for more information.

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