How To Fix A Murdered Crepe Myrtle

source: YouTube/Southern Living

Crepe myrtle trees and bushes produce big, beautiful blooms similar to a lilac all summer long. If you’re lucky enough to have one of these striking trees on your property, you’ll want to ensure you’re caring for it properly. Part of this care involves pruning the branches back in the late winter. But unfortunately, many people go a little crazy when pruning, resulting in crepe murder.

source: Covington’s Nursery

The term crepe murder has become quite catchy because so many people are guilty of it. If you’re one of them, not to panic. There are ways to bring back a murdered crepe myrtle. If the tree in question has been cut back to an alarming state, with only the spiky remnants of thick branches left behind, you know that a myrtle has been murdered.

source: Urban Forest Dweller

When done correctly, pruning a crepe myrtle helps the tree to maintain a great shape and produce strong branches that form a sort of canopy. This canopy-like shape helps air flow throughout the tree, and allows sunlight to hit the majority of branches instead of just the blooms on the outer part of the tree. Pruning is best done in late winter when the tree is lying dormant.

source: Fine Gardening Magazine/Melissa Lucas

If you have cut back a crepe myrtle too far and notice knobs forming on the stubby ends of the branches, you’re going to want to first trim those off. Once those have been trimmed and spring comes along, you will notice small, new shoots start to form on the end of the branch stubs. Choose one or two new shoots that appear strong and healthy on each branch stub and let them be. However, you’ll want to remove any other shoots from each branch.

source: DC Tropics

Bringing back a crepe myrtle requires more maintenance than this, however. You will need to repeat this process throughout the summer and with each new spring so that it’s just the original one or two shoots per branch that are allowed to grow. In time, they will grow big and healthy, and the tree will start to fill out in shape a bit more.

source: South Carolina Living via Andrew Haworth

Bringing back a murdered crepe myrtle is a bit of a waiting game, but if you’ve done the crime, you need to do the time! Hopefully if you’ve gone a little too rogue with pruning your own crepe myrtle, you now know there is hope for bringing it back – so long as you have a little patience.