How To Fix Crepe Murder

Learn how to correct crepe myrtle pruning gone wrong.


And now, the Grumpy Gardner. One of my favorite times of the year is when I hold my annual crepe myrtle contest. In which I ask readers and fans to sneak up on their neighbors and take pictures of the worst examples of beautiful crepe myrtles. That have been chopped down into ugly stumps and people send me these pathetic messages they go. Oh, I'm so mad at myself. I'm so stupid. I didn't take your advice. I've already gone out and chopped my great murder. I did it again. Don't say murder. Don't say murder. Don't say murder. Great myrtle. I know what a great myrtle is. Take two. I didn't read your column, I didn't take your advice. I've already cut my tree. Is it gonna die? Can it ever be fixed again? And the answer is, yes. Write this down 'cause I don't wanna have to talk about this again. When people chop their great myrtles they cut them in one of two ways. One they take a chainsaw out they make a nice clean cut through the trunk leaving a level top. Or the second way is they cut it back all the branches to the same point on the trunk. So, you get this real ugly Fisted knob on the end. What the heck is wrong with you people? If you're one of those that's for the big ugly knobs on the end of the trunks, here's what you do. You cut off those knobs. So that you're great myrtle looks exactly like the one that they took the chainsaw to. Now you've got these level stumps, very shortly about a dozen shoots are gonna go straight up from the end of each one of those cut stumps. Wait until they get about a foot or two tall and then you select two of those shoots. That are growing up and out. You leave those, you save them, and you cut off all the others. Now, for the next three years, you basically do the same thing. If any of those shoots you save start sending a side branch out towards the center of the plant, you cut it off too. Cuz what you're trying to do is gonna create myrtle that is a vase shape with a kinda of an open center. If you follow these instructions, in about three, four, five years, those chutes that you save and let grow will become the new main trunks and your plant will look normal again. Take my advice, just say no. Don't murder your crepe myrtles.
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