Joseph De Sciose
Restoring a Butchered Plant
If you've beheaded a big crepe myrtle to within a few feet of the ground (see photo below right), there's only one solution. Punish yourself severely by watching Nancy Grace on TV, and then cut the sorry plant completely to the ground. It will grow back very quickly. The next winter, select three to five well-spaced trunks, and cut off any others at ground level. Follow the instructions from "The Right Way To Prune" above, and you'll have an attractive tree within five years.
But maybe your sin wasn't so acute. You've only rounded off, or "hat-racked," your crepe myrtle, cutting back all of its main branches to about the same height. n this case, follow our four-step process to get beautiful plants.
Finally, a word to you ladies. The minute football season ends next year, treat the man of the house to a tractor pull, a paintball tournament, or a game of X-treme welding. Don't let him near the saws and loppers.
Excuses for Crepe Murder
Excuse: My neighbors all do it.
Rebuttal: So if the neighbors start keeping Nile crocodiles in their pools, you'll be on the next plane to Africa?
Excuse: The landscapers do it every winter.
Rebuttal: They do it only because they need a paycheck.
Excuse: The dang thing gets too big.
Rebuttal: You planted the wrong crepe myrtle. Selections such as 'Victor,' 'Acoma,' 'Hopi,' 'Tonto,' 'Zuni,' and the Petite Series grow to 12 feet tall or less.
"Stop! Don't Chop!" is from the February 2007 issue of Southern Living.