ALABAMA A&M and AUBURN UNIVERSITIES
For more information,
contact Donna Reynolds, Extension Assistant Editor
AUBURN, FEB. 19---The term "crapemurder" was coined in an article by Southern Living magazine to highlight and decry the wrongful pruning practice of topping or stubbing back a crapemyrtle tree.
Recovering from crapemurder is a drastic process but easy to do. You can expect rapid recovery. When trees are topped or stubbed back to chest high, a profusion of sprouts or a "witches broom" develops below the cut. The attachment of these sprouts is weak, dense, susceptible to breakage and more disease problems. The winter silhouette is crapemurder ugly.
The best recovery method is to cut the tree to within one to two inches of the ground in early March before new growth begins. Then wait for new sprouts to emerge. They will come in bunches. All the stored energy in the roots is forced up into a number of new buds. These buds break and grow very fast.
After two to three weeks, select three to five of the most vigorous new shoots which are arranged around the tree and growing out from the center. Sometimes a single trunk is desired when you have a tree close to a sidewalk. In this case, select one sprout and remove all others. Keep the tree clean of sprouts except the one you selected.Remove and continue to remove other existing shoots and any new ones that break.
Decatur has named itself the Crapemyrtle City and should set an example on how to prune crapemyrtles. The city would benefit from experiencing all the beauty a properly pruned crapemyrtle has to offer. A new product, Tre-Hold, will be demonstrated at at Decatur's Crapemurder Recovery Event. It is a chemical growth regulator which was evaluated by Dr. Gary Keever, a horticulturist at Auburn University. Dr. Keever found that when Tre-Hold was sprayed on the trunk of the tree, it suppressed continuing bud break and reduced the amount of labor required to remove these new sprouts.
This is very important to grounds maintenance professionals and municipalities where it is expensive and labor intensive to revisit the trees on a regular basis to remove new shoots. Without this chemical, you will need to remove new sprouts about every two weeks. If you catch shoots early, you can easily rub them off with a gloved hand. Results will be rapid and within three to five years, you should have some completely recovered, natural crapemyrtles.
Crapemyrtles bloom on current seasons wood, so you will have beautiful flowers during the summer.