Crepe murder — the odious and ignorant practice of chopping these graceful trees into ugly stumps each spring — doesn’t make them look bad in one season. The horror carries over into summer when they bloom. These photos show what I mean.
Back in March, in “Vote for Your Favorite Crepe Murder,” Grumpy presented a beastly array of formerly attractive crepe myrtles that had een savagely disfigured by incorrect pruning and asked you to choose the finest (actually, worst) example. Here’s the unlucky winner.
Now let’s look at what happened when this unfortunate victim bloomed this summer.
See? As a result of severe pruning, numerous whiplike branches sprouted from the ends of the stumps. Far too weak to hold up the heavy flower clusters, the whips sag to the ground, looking sadder than Lindsay Lohan after her sentence.
If your crepe myrtle looks like this, you need to do two things. First, don woolen underwear for the rest of the summer. Consider it penance. Second, do some remedial pruning this fall after the plant’s leaves have dropped. Prune off all but 1-2 whips that sprouted from the end of each stump. These will become the new main branches. For the next 3 years, keep pruning off any new shoots that sprout from the ends of the stumps except for these that you’ve already spared. At the end of this time, your crepe myrtle will be beautiful once again.