Crape Murder
What is Crape Murder?

Classic Gardens has spoken for years about Crape Murder.  We’ve talked about it on our radio show. We’ve shown it on NBC 13 with Ken Lass. Interviewed experts from across the nation on radio. We have written articles about Crape Murder in the Birmingham News.

Maybe we should start at the beginning by explaining what is Crape Murder? Crape Murder is quite simply improper pruning by cutting the tops out of your crapes. This is a copy cat crime. One person sees a neighbor or maybe even a “professional” company doing it so that person thinks they need to do it to their own crape.

Crape Myrtles, for the most part are trees. You do not cut the tops out of your pine trees, your oak trees, your maple trees, your dogwood trees, so why do people think they should cut the top out of their Crape? By pruning the top out of your crape you destroy the natural shape of the crape. Of all trees in their winter silhouette form, a crape has to be one of the prettiest shaped trees there is, unless of course it has been butchered.

There is a nation wide movement to stop the brutality to crapes. There is NO disagreement among horticulturists nation wide that cutting the tops out of your crape is more serious than a misdemeanor, it is a felony. Why do we see a few “professional” companies doing it. It could only be ignorance or profiteering. I can forgive a homeowner for ignorance, but not a professional. I have less tolerance for someone that does it knowingly wrong for profit.

How should you prune a crape?

A picture is worth a thousand words, so we will bring you pictures labeled “Crape Murder” and pictures labeled “Correct Pruning.”

If you want a Crape Myrtle that is only six feet tall, you do not achieve this by cutting out the tops. You visit your local garden center and put in your request at purchasing time. At our garden center we carry Crape Myrtles that only grow 18 inches tall. Dwarf Crapes that only get 3 feet tall. Semi Dwarf Crapes that get 6 feet tall. Medium Crapes that grow to about 10 feet and then of course the Crape Myrtle trees that reach 15 to 25 feet tall. So when you purchase your crape is when you determine the ultimate size of your crape, not by cutting out the tops.

If you find that you have committed Crape Murder, then please see the Recovery page.

As I drive around town I will be taking pictures for both categories. I hope you don’t show up under “Crape Murder.”

How do you spell “crape myrtle”? “Crape myrtle”, that’s how. Some people still spell it “Crepe” but that is something you eat. It has been decided by most, not all, experts across the nation that “crape myrtle” is the correct spelling. Even though throughout the above article I spelled it as two words “crape myrtle.” I’m not sure why I did that. I just feel that the word should be two words, not one. But I’m not the one making the decisions; I just pass the information along. So once again, the correct spelling is “crape myrtle.”

We are fortunate to have in our backyard the leading authority on crape myrtles, David Byers. David is a third-generation nurseryman and has devoted much of his time and resources to the study and promotion of the crape myrtle. David can be reached at P.O. Box 434, Huntsville, Al. 35804 or by email by clicking here . His book “Crape myrtle, A Grower’s Thoughts” is very informative for those of you wanting to learn more about crape myrtle.