The great crape myrtle controversies

The great crape myrtle controversies

Fall colors on crape myrtles have been excellent this year. Photo by Heather Kirk-Ballard/LSU AgCenter

Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) are one of the most controversial and often-discussed ornamental plants among gardeners, landscapers, conservationists, naturalists, growers, researchers and educators. How did the crape myrtle become such a hot topic for discussion?

First things first — is it crepe or is it crape? Check any number of references and you are likely to find it spelled either way. Crape is the preferred name and what we most commonly use here in Louisiana.

The topic that always gets horticulturists riled up is the pruning practices. You have likely seen a crape myrtle hacked back to just a trunk in landscapes across the South. We have given it the name “crape murder.” Do not be ashamed if you have committed crape murder in the past. Plenty of bad gardening practices are out there, and this is just one of them. It comes from misinformation in most instances and practicing what we see. Fortunately, trees take this abuse and generally come back each spring.



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