Pruning up Crepe Myrtles – Crepe Murder, Au Naturale, and Pollarding

Posted by on January 18, 2010

Gardening with Confidence Crepe Murder


Crepe Myrtle pruning is greatly debated in the south.  With the concept of flowering on new wood, many end their growing season murdering their Crepe Myrtles.  While the plant doesn’t actually die, an over zealous pruning job definitely murders the look of one.


Gardening with ConfidenceAu Naturale


Crepe Myrtles left in their natural natural shape are very attractive.  I especially like the look of the trees in the winter. The natural look of the seed pods adding winter interest is enough to keep the clippers in my back pocket.

Gardening with Confidence PollardingPOLLARDING

The Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, NC has one of the most magnificat examples of Crepe Myrtle pollarding.  These Crepe Myrtles are pollard to maintain the size.

Pollarding is to prune a tree to controls its shape.


After more than 60 years of pollarding these Crepe Myrtles has creating a gnarled, interesting art form.  When done, over time, the results are dramatic.

The effect is so striking, it’s becomes an art.

While visitors to The Elizabethan Gardens journey to the gardens in the summer to see these magnificent trees in bloom, this humble gardener suggests you visit in the winter.  On a beautiful sunny day in the middle of January when the air is relatively warm, grab a blanket, and a picnic lunch and sit amongst these trees.  It’s inspiring.




Check out my friend, the Grumpy Gardener, aka, Steve Bender ‘s site over at Southern Living for some Crepe Myrtle pruning techiniques.


8 responses to “Pruning up Crepe Myrtles – Crepe Murder, Au Naturale, and Pollarding”

  1. Les says:

    Yes, it is Myrtle Maiming season isn’t it? My favorite example of deliberate pruning is a living fence of Crapes at the Norfolk Bot. Gardens. There are about 15-20 planted in a row, maybe 6′ apart and they have been trained to grow together in a diamond grid pattern. The wood of each tree is fused to its neighbor.

  2. HelenYoest says:

    Good to know, Les. I’ll have to check them out when I’m in town next week to lecture. H.

  3. keep up the good work…great article! Will look forward to sharing with my landscape design clients!

  4. I was outside working my short sleeves today and looking at my myrtles. There are some overlapping branches in the middle of one that I need to prune out to keep it healthy… I came inside to go find Grumpy’s article and you have it right here for me! 🙂

    I’ve only been to the Elizabethan Gardens in summer. But, on pretty winter days, our NC gardens are beautiful (went to Duke and Airlie last January).


  5. HelenYoest says:

    Thanks Katherine! BTW, I like your site. H.

  6. HelenYoest says:

    Hey C, isn’t this weather something? I enjoy visiting public gardens in the winter. The vocabulary is so important and seems many miss these opportunities. One of my favorite talks is adding winter interest in the garden. Thanks to Les Parker, I’l go check out the Norfolk Botanical gardens CM. They should be fasinating. H.

  7. meghan says:

    i do love the phrase “crepe murder”. does it really get much better than the crepe myrtle?! 🙂 i hope to add a ‘zuni’ this year!!

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