Tag Archives: Lagerstroemia indica

Crape Myrtle

We’re all familiar with the tree commonly known as crape or crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica). It’s not native to Georgia, but given how many crape myrtles we see in Atlanta yards, sidewalk strips, and parking lots, you might have assumed it is. It came to us from China and Korea, first to Charleston in 1790 and then everywhere else.

I’m here today with a reminder: if you are responsible for one or more of these trees, there is no law that says you must “top” a crape myrtle. The reason some people cut back these trees is because they believe it’s a technique to get more blooms and larger blooms in the summer. The reason that others top these trees is because, well, everybody else is doing it.

You can google the phrase “crape murder” to read all the reasons why it’s not a good practice to decapitate trees, putting aside aesthetics.

A few years ago, the Natalie asked Tree Watch to plant some crape myrtles out in front of their lovely building on Waverly Way. Look how elegant they already are.

Earlier, I wrote that “there is no law that says you must ‘top’ a crape myrtle.” In fact, for what it’s worth, the City of Atlanta Tree Protection Ordinance deems “topping” an illegal destruction of a tree, for which a fine may be imposed:

Topping, tipping, or any similar improper pruning practices will automatically be deemed as destruction of a tree.

So please pause a minute and consider whether you really want to chop your crape myrtle in two, especially the ones that are in the public right-of-way between the sidewalk and the street. Most varieties of crape myrtle (Tuscarora, Muskogee, Natchez, Sarah’s Favorite, etc.) do want to be trees, not shrubs. If you want a shrub, plant a shrub!