Ask a Question forum: Crepe Myrtle

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Name: Suzashโ˜บ
(Zone 8a)
suzetteashmo
Feb 23, 2017 9:44 AM CST
Hello,
I just moved from AZ. to MS. & we have a bunch of Crape myrtles in front of our home that haven't been cared for in 15 years how do I trim back without killing them?
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Feb 23, 2017 12:23 PM CST
Suze. Welcome!
Ooo !!!! Sticking tongue out
I wish i lived in your towne ๐Ÿ˜
We could have a BLAST !๐Ÿ˜Ž!
Blank canvases just waiting to be sculpted. Just awaiting there. Ohh!!! How it makes me excited.
Opps !!! ๐Ÿ˜‡ !!! Pruning. Okey dokey.
Prune them to any shape you desire, be creative. Look around town for some sculpted trees .
Some nurseries have sculpted trees (think bonsia ) or just prune them regularly. The point is.... YOU CANT KILL THEM !
Chop them to the ground !!! They still grow !๐Ÿ˜ฎ! They be touff.
You can also prune them any ol time of the year.
Have fun !๐Ÿ˜!!!
๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Feb 23, 2017 12:49 PM CST
Phillip's assessment is right - you can't kill a crepe myrtle. It just took him a long time to get there. Smiling
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
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dave
Feb 23, 2017 12:50 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Crepe myrtles are better left unpruned or very very lightly pruned, in my opinion. Heavily pruned crepe myrtles look terribly unsightly and put the landowner in a bad light to the surrounding community.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Feb 23, 2017 12:54 PM CST
I was visualizing CM trees that had suckered.

Maybe a coupe photos to help us all visualize the same thing?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
Feb 23, 2017 5:49 PM CST
I agree We need to see some pictures, so we know why you think you need to prune these.

People really do get carried away pruning Crepe Myrtles when they really don't need much at all. They make absolutely beautiful trees if left alone. But if they have suckers (extra stems growing up from the base) it's probably a good idea to cut those. You may end up with what look like gigantic shrubs.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Feb 23, 2017 6:10 PM CST
I agree with Dave; I leave mine alone - fortunately they don't sucker. One can see evidence of "Crape Murder" all over the place around here!
Porkpal
Name: Cheryl
Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Greenhouse Plant Identifier Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Plumerias Ponds
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ShadyGreenThumb
Feb 23, 2017 11:40 PM CST
Agree, leave the branches alone unless they are hindering a window or part of your house. There is a lot of crepe murder going on around out town right now. Thumbs down Neighbors had their very mature 25 years+ Crepe Myrtles hacked down to about 10 feet tall. Oh MY! It looks horrible! I hope they come back. They were two of the pretties free-growing trees ever!
Life is short, Break the rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love Truly, Laugh
uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you Smile.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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stone
Feb 24, 2017 7:58 AM CST
suzetteashmo said:Hello,
I just moved from AZ. to MS. & we have a bunch of Crape myrtles in front of our home that haven't been cared for in 15 years how do I trim back without killing them?


Ditto on all the posts that suggest leaving them alone, and that they are unkillable.

I know a garden that has large clumps of the stuff... And cutting them back in the shade... Just means that they will never bloom again.

Thinning the clump.... I'm thinking 20 stems +
Thinning is possible, but.... Really doesn't make them look any better...

And... Cutting them back.... Is very unattractive.
People think that they need to cut them back.... Because everybody else in the neighborhood is doing it....

Keeping up with the Jones... Not always the smartest method of gardening.

The way that most of us trim those crape myrtles is very time consuming, and locks us into a pointless task year after year.

If you're lucky enough to have aged trees that don't have all the injuries of repeated cutting back.... Suggest that you live with them a few years.... And don't prune.... Eventually, maybe consider removal, if you don't like them.... They are useless to the pollinators.

But...
Maybe you are talking about next to the house... With the branches scraping the roof?
In wich case... Cut them well away from the house.
Name: Suzashโ˜บ
(Zone 8a)
suzetteashmo
Feb 24, 2017 9:51 AM CST
I hope this works, the CM are over 12' high. Might be hard to see in this pic. I asked neighbors if they have seen them flower oddly know one remembers.


Thumb of 2017-02-24/suzetteashmo/2cf89f

[Last edited by suzetteashmo - Feb 24, 2017 9:53 AM (+)]
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Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
My dogs love me; some people don't.
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greene
Feb 24, 2017 10:26 AM CST
suzetteashmo.
I have an idea that might work. I've done it before and it worked for me.

To to Google Map.
Type in your address (don't post it publicly here)
Then go to 'Street View'.
Click on the little man and put him in front of your house.
You may be able to see the crepe myrtles in bloom.

If the trees were not in bloom at the time the Google Map photo was taken you can "go back in time" to see previous images of the same house.

On the Google Map screen there is a little 'clock thingie' that shows a box in the upper left. That allows you to go back in time to see the same house in previous Google Map images.

Here is an (backwards) example; it's my grandmother's house.
Thumb of 2017-02-24/greene/36dfc4 Click image to enlarge.
See the pink dogwood in the center of the screen? That's the current image on Google Maps.
My dad planted that tree for my gran when I was about 12 years old.
The previous image in the upper left box is from 2008 did not clearly show the color of the dogwood. You can click to enlarge the box to see it full screen.

Another place to look is on real estate sites. They sometimes show previous images of the house and trees.

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
Feb 24, 2017 10:43 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Those don't look like they need any pruning to me. Watch it this year and see how it does.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
Region: New Mexico Critters Allowed Region: Arizona Xeriscape Greenhouse Annuals
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plantmanager
Feb 24, 2017 10:49 AM CST
I agree They look nicely shaped to me.
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Feb 24, 2017 11:37 AM CST
I agree too.
Porkpal
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Feb 24, 2017 12:39 PM CST
Thank you for the photos.

When you first wrote, I was visualizing a Crepe Myrtle tree with one main trunk and a lot of suckers. What you actually have are shrubs - lots of main trunks.

I can understand your thoughts/concerns that these shrubs are HUGE and blocking your view. Unfortunately, that type of shrub (that goes straight up) will never prune down and look decent. It was meant to be tall.

You have two options: keep them the way they are or cut them down to the ground and let them start over. I have to warn you though, they will be back to full size in a year or so.

The good news is that the leaves will only be at the top - the stems will be bare. It could be that the neighbors haven't noticed blooms because they are 20 feet off the ground.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Feb 24, 2017 3:12 PM CST
I'mmmm BACK ###
Not good for pollinators ! WHAT !!!
Honeybees love the flowers ###
They dont bloom till they have been growing for several weeks.
I've never heard of one not blooming. Of course. I dont know where you live. It would be helpfull if you put that and your zone in your profile ๐Ÿ˜

I've seen some pretty fancy trimed, around town. Some people may say they there butchered. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ๐Ÿ˜
One mans trash ! Is another mans treasure #
I still say trim to your desire.
Picture is great !!!
If you want them to look more natural !!! "My preference !!!" Would be to cut all but 5 to 7 trunks off at ground or as low as possible.
At one house i use to live in, thats what i had. A beatuful vase shaped tree. Some 30 feet tall. You have to many trunks. I think maybe ? That's what you dont like about them ?
๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜ŽThe cool gardener !
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Feb 24, 2017 3:21 PM CST
As Philip says, the bees love my Crape Myrtles. As I see it, the trouble with cutting a few trunks off at the ground is that you would then be facesd by perpetual attempts to sprout from the cut ends. I still vote for let them be.
Porkpal
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Feb 24, 2017 4:40 PM CST
Looks to me as if you will have a really beautiful privacy screen there, if you just let them be at least for this year.

Also I'd agree that the blooms may be all at the top. In future if you want more fullness and more bloom down lower, maybe think of shortening just one or two of the smaller trunks on each plant, each spring down maybe to 8ft tall so they would be seen better.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill

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