Don’t commit Myrtle Murder

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 19, 2019

By Sandra Hoke

Certified Texas Master Gardener


I know you see it done all over town, but DON’T DO IT!!!!!


I am talking about trimming Crepe Myrtles all at the same level, leaving years of “nubs” that distract from the beauty of the tree.  The tree sprouts at this level of pruning year after year leaving multiple “nubs” from repeated trimming.

This type of pruning is called “Myrtle Murder” or “Crepe Rape” which indicates that it is bad.


Myrtle Murder is bad for several reasons:

  1.  Beautiful trees become ugly with unattractive “fists” where branches sprout.
  2.  It prevents the pretty mottled bark on maturing trunks.
  3.  Skinny branches sprout from the cut ends that are too weak to hold up flowers.
  4. Crepe Myrtles are trees, not shrubs!


When and how to trim correctly

  1.  Late winter is the ideal time to prune.
  2.  Trim suckers coming up from the base.
  3.  Trim all higher branches growing toward the center of the tree.
  4.  Trim all crossing, rubbing and dead branches.
  5.  Trim branches growing at awkward angles that detract from the tree’s beauty.
  6.  Always cut back to a larger branch of the trunk.  Don’t leave stubs.


Do this and you will have a beautiful Crepe Myrtle for years to come.