MURDER WE WROTE. First off; is it spelled Crape or Crepe?! Well people use both when talking about these beautiful ornamental trees that grace our landscapes. The scientific name is Lagerstroemia crape myrtle. The traditional Southern spelling is Crepe Myrtle (due to the delicate flowers which resemble crepe paper). However, across the US, it is more commonly “Crape Myrtle”.

Lagerstroemia ‘Arapaho’ has deep watermelon pink blooms to welcome guests and family

CARE OR LACK THERE OF Now let’s talk how these wonderful flowering trees are cared for in regards to pruning. I would say more than 60 % of the people out there are cutting the tops down and back, WAY back. Even stumping and butchering the trunks in half or worse! This brutal attack is what’s known as Crape Murder.

WHY THIS TREE? When we are called or take on new clients that have previous damage done to their crape trees, the majority of our clients tell us they thought it was a normal practice to cut them back. They think you need to severely cut them back in order for them to bloom next year. We let them know that this was an old practice back in the days of our ancestors when certain tree types needed to be cut down and rejuvenated. This practice never completely died, even with the developments of new and improved cultivar varieties which do not have to be cut back and require less care than the one before. Gorgeous varieties today such as “Tonto”, “Natchez” or “Muskogee” bloom every year without topping of any kind. Most crape myrtle cultivars sold today are repeat bloomers which naturally bloom year after year and do not require any cutting back.

Care and Where to Plant Crape Myrtles
Crapes do require maintenance, both pruning and insect/disease controls. Pruning consists of cleaning out any broken or dead branches. Removing any sucker growth from the base or along stems, and removing cross branches which can rub and bruise. Some people feel the need to remove the old spent blooms end of season, this is optional and for aesthetics only and is not a requirement.

All crape varieties require a good amount of direct sunlight. Crape myrtles are versatile and have several uses in the landscape. They come in shrub form as well as the most popular tree forms. Planted alone the upright tree forms are simply stunning and will bloom all Summer long. For a unique look, buy the single stem versions. Planted together, they make a large deciduous hedge or screen. Planting a pair will frame an entry or a front door nicely to greet visitors with a warm colorful welcome!

Be sure to choose the right size variety for your space and needs. The larger tree types such as “Muskogee” and “Miami” grow to 25′ tall and need room to grow without encroaching on rooftops.  Medium-size selections like “Tonto” and “Catawba” will grow from 12 to 15 feet tall and are perfect for a small courtyard or garden home. The dwarf selections like “Victor” look great in large containers, foundation plantings, and even incorporated into perennial beds.

HELP US PREVENT CRAPE MURDER So we hope you have learned a thing or two; hope you can help us educate others as you walk around your neighborhoods. Our Crape trees will be glad you did!  Watch and subscribe to our Youtube channel- as we help prevent Crape Murder & release other helpful landscape tips!