When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

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When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  drgonzo on Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:59 pm

Hi Folks,

I was searching around for a thread from earlier this summer where a fellow did a severe trunk reduction on a Crape Myrtle but I could'nt find it. I need to start again with mine back down to one inch branch stubs, and re-grow the canopy...ficus style...you know Very Happy When is the best time, seasonally, to do this? It seems from what I've read its late winter while the tree is dormant. This is a Dazzle Crape and frosty Yankees like myself aren't used to these guys so I'm in search of good advice from my Southern comrades.

My Best and My thanks as always
-Jay

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Russell Coker on Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:38 am

Yes, late winter/early spring would be the best time - for several reasons - to do this. You should see what happens to some landscape trees here at that time. We call it "crape murder".

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  drgonzo on Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:01 am

Yes Russell,

I've already run into the term "Crape murder" in my reading. So this is done well before bud break? and do we seal the cut ends?

If you care to elaborate as to why its done this early I'd really love to know. Most of the time up here I wait till I see buds break or even a first flush of growth before I would do any sort of heavy reduction, i wonder what makes the crape myrtle different.
-Jay

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:24 am

On the Space Coast we perform Crape Murder during the first week of Jan.

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  drgonzo on Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:50 am

OK...

Now its gonna be stuck in my head..Its too late.

wife-"honey what did you do to that tree?"

me-"Crape Murder...."
Laughing

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Russell Coker on Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:06 am

Well, here "early" is a relative term. There is a fine line between fall, winter and spring. Remember that "fall color" for us can the same time as Christmas. January/February is "winter", March is spring.

On bonsai, I'd clean and seal the cuts like I would almost anything else.

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  coh on Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:21 am

"Crepe myrder", I remember that being a popular activity where I used to live in Virginia. Never quite understood it...

Jay, do you have a photo of the tree? I'm curious which one you wound up with.

Chris

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  JimLewis on Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:39 am

Up where you live, I suspect that it would be better to wait until spring has arrived. I'm sure you will have the tree in a cool, dark room all winter.

These things are sometimes quite late to leaf out in colder climates.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  drgonzo on Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:52 am

Jim-
I was hoping you might chime in..
Early spring, yup got it, but do I wait for bud break or cut it hard while its still dormant is what I'm trying to figure out. I've had bad luck cutting hard while trees were still dormant, mainly sap bleeding out everywhere, thats why I'm trying to figure at what point horticulturaly this guy needs to get his HARD prune. My "instinct" is to wait until it just leafs out but everything I'm reading says chop it while its still dormant ....so there ya go?

BTW ..I got that Ortho book from the library friday, I think we're going to go ahead and buy it thats an excellent guide to pests and disease, thanks again for that recommendation.

Chris- I actually was gonna take a pick of it earlier this evening, but my wife had the camera, I'll get one tomorrow and put it up, its a lovely ruby dazzle with a nice flared trunk, she just needs a new canopy (the tree not my wife). i actually thought it was the best one Bill had there that weekend and was the first thing I grabbed. ANd I was surprised not many others went for those trees.
-Jay

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:46 am

Here in Florida Crape Myrtle are grown by Yankees because they resemble Lilacs, or so I am told. For that reason we want to see a cluster of flowers. Since Crape Myrtle bloom on new growth at the end of branches and the thicker the branch the bigger the cluster of flowers, we prune back to fairly thick branches. If you leave a Crape Myrtle unpruned for a number of years you will get a lot of ramification, many small branches, with a few flowers at the end of each. This can also be a great look because the entire tree can be covered with color.

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  JimLewis on Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:27 pm

Crape myrtle are not "bleeders" so you needn't worry about that. Their leaf buds are small and don't really swell until JUST before leaf break. If I were you, I'd try to time it at the exact time the first green shows. Up where you are, that could be June. Or later.

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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  drgonzo on Mon Sep 26, 2011 3:18 pm

There is a stub on my tree now that was cut back in the spring, I'm sure, and it back-budded all around the cut similar to a Ficus, so I assume these guys break bud on old wood easily. I'll follow Jim's suggestion and do it when i see the first signs of life in spring.

Thank's to all you Southerners down there Very Happy
-Jay


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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Sam Ogranaja on Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:23 pm

In Raleigh I see it performed before bud break.

Have a great week!!!!
Sam

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Dave Murphy on Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:30 pm

Crepe murder was committed across the street from my house, in broad daylight, just last week. I thought this was a safe neighborhood Suspect . The perps have disappeared but the carnage remains.


ps Most good tree services maul these trees in late winter down here, before bud break...

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:41 pm

I think pruning now would be a mistake, warm weather might cause a bud break that would later be hurt by cold.

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Dave Murphy on Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:52 pm

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:I think pruning now would be a mistake, warm weather might cause a bud break that would later be hurt by cold.
I am definately not advocating this kind of pruning (ever really), particularly right now. I was shocked, really, when I saw the tree guys going to town in my neighbors' yard. She was having some larger trees removed...I think the crew thought they were doing her a favor by pruning up the myrtles.

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:03 pm

The job looks typical of the some of these "guy with a chain saw" companies. In this case he left a lot of crossing branches, and that Y is not good either. Crape Myrtle are very forgiving however and I am sure the tree will be fine.

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  drgonzo on Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:47 pm

Oh I wasn't going to do it now, I was just inquiring if its best done before, at, or just after bud break. I have read something about the tree simply suckering off its roots in response if its done at the wrong time.
-Jay

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:47 am

drgonzo wrote:Oh I wasn't going to do it now, I was just inquiring if its best done before, at, or just after bud break. I have read something about the tree simply suckering off its roots in response if its done at the wrong time.
-Jay

Crape Myrtle will always try to sucker off its roots and you will continue to have to remove them. Crape Myrtle are by nature big multitrunked shrubs. They have to be forced/trained to have a single trunk. In the nursery trade single trunk Crape Myrtles are called "standards" and get a higher price than the multitunks.

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  jonkatzmail on Sat Oct 01, 2011 5:24 am

affraid **GAWK** Now I know why its called Crepe Murder....
When I went to the National Arboretum they had a demonstration kind of display that showed pictures of a Crepe Myrtle turned into a bonsai, and the actual Crepe Myrtle was outside on display. I liked it so I went to several nurseries to find a Crepe Myrtle I could prune to make something like what I saw in the display. I found out that there are no such good plants for sale anywhere I looked... too bad... But I bought a small one anyway even though it looks nothing like the great pre-bonsai plant that was pruned in the display. I haven't done anything with it yet since its autumn and its about to lose its leaves. I wish I knew where they found a Crepe Myrtle they could prune into something that looks pretty good right away... --- ... ... --- ... ... --- ...

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  JimLewis on Sat Oct 01, 2011 2:02 pm

I suspect you will be hard pressed to ever find a single trunk nursery crape myrtle in Indiana. They're not hard to find in the south, though, so perhaps on your next family vacation you can find some. Use yours to make a nice clump style.

Incidentally, "crepe" (with an "e") is like a pancake -- sweet and yummy. Crape myrtle (with an "a") is spelled like the black band some folks wear after the death of a loved one.

Some, but not most, books list "crepe" as an acceptable synonym in crape myrtle -- another sign of a very permissive society. <g>

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Jesse McMahon on Sat Oct 01, 2011 2:28 pm

growing up in the south, it's so common to see 'crape murder' that i've never really thought about it like that before reading this thread. it's just something you do to make things happen well. funny.

and in light of what jim's speaking to, i've been known to commit 'crepe murder' on occasion as well. usually around the time the fresh thornless blackberries are coming out of the garden.

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

Post  Russell Coker on Sat Oct 01, 2011 3:25 pm

Jesse McMahon wrote:growing up in the south, it's so common to see 'crape murder' that i've never really thought about it like that before reading this thread. it's just something you do to make things happen well. funny.

and in light of what jim's speaking to, i've been known to commit 'crepe murder' on occasion as well. usually around the time the fresh thornless blackberries are coming out of the garden.

Sadly, it's one of those things that people think they're supposed to do - and the next thing you know EVERYBODY"S ruining their crape myrtles. The sad thing is that this is completely unnecessary. And once people start seeing idiot yardmen and maintenance companies doing it, it's almost impossible to stop. There's a correct way to prune everything, and this ain't it. Like I tell people here, hell holds a special place for people who take hedge shears to camellias, and butcher crape myrtles too.

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Re: When to Reduce Crape Myrtle

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