• It is completely unnecessary to prune a crepe myrtle back to make it bloom.


• It is completely unnecessary to prune a crepe myrtle back to make it bloom.

 

The flowers are produced on new growth, and crepe myrtles produce new growth all throughout the warm growing season.

 

They also usually die back 7 to 12 inches each winter and this is a natural pruning process that promotes new growth.

 

If you will notice, each spring, the new leaves start about a foot down the branch and will eventually hide the dead ends if they are not trimmed off.

 

n I did some research on the Internet and, apparently, the horrendous habit of “crepe murdering” began in the 1960s by landscapers because it was the easiest way for untrained crews to “prune” a lot of crepe myrtles quickly in order to make more money.

 

It seems hard to believe that the only thing that has changed is that the untrained crews in the 1960s have been replaced by different untrained crews and that “crepe murdering” has just become accepted procedure all over the South.

 

I didn’t check all 50,000 sites that came up when I did a search on crepe myrtle pruning on the internet, but I did look at a lot of them.

 

I couldn’t find even one single site that recommended “crepe murder” as the way to prune.

 

• Research has proven that crepe myrtles that have never been pruned or pruned very little, actually bloom earlier and have more flowers.

 

You know there are crepe myrtles in cemeteries and old home places everywhere that have been blooming all summer for years with absolutely no pruning except by nature.

 

• I know you’ve never committed “crepe murder,” but if you inherited some with your house that have been whacked and butchered, you can renovate them.

 

Cut the whole plant all the way to the ground. As it re-sprouts, select three branches to be permanent and keep all the rest cut down.

 

Then follow the rules for pruning each year. Remove the 4 Ds — dead, diseased, damaged and dinky branches. Remove crossing and rubbing branches and branches growing toward the center.

 

Keep suckers cut at ground level all summer and remove seed heads that develop after the flowers to keep the flowers coming all summer long.

 

• The new cultivars are more disease resistant and bloom longer.

 

They are even bred to be semi-sterile so they put all their energy into making flowers and not seeds.

 

Steve Bender, “The Grumpy Gardener” from Southern Living Magazine who always spells it “crepe myrtle,” recommends Natchez (tall white 30-foot), Miami (tall deep pink), Catawba (medium tall purple), Zuni (10-foot lavender), Watermelon Red (tall red), Dynamite (medium red) and Petite Orchid (dwarf purple).

 

Pink Velour is an Oklahoma Proven Plant and is one of the great Whit Crepe Myrtles developed by Dr. Carl Whitcomb from Stillwater who also developed Dynamite.

 

Check out his Web site at Lacebarkinc.

 

• Crepe myrtles are drought tolerant once established, but will flower even more if watered regularly when rain is lacking during the summer.

 

They need to be watered at root level instead of wetting the foliage with a sprinkler, which will encourage powdery mildew.

 

They are extremely sensitive to glyphosate (Roundup) damage and even a minute amount of drift will affect flowering.

 

Use mulch to control weeds instead.

 

• This is the perfect time to plant one or many of the South’s most beautiful plants, and please help spread the word to stop “crepe murder.”

 

Happy Gardening!