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Madison City Logo

Thursday, April 5, 2018

MBTB hosts 2018 Arbor Week

Madison Beautification and Tree Board hosts Arbor Week with 
Madison City School Poster Contest, Workshop and Tree Planting

Vice President of Tree Board, Marsha Harris, kicked off Arbor week with Poster Contest with Madison City Schools. Each school submits posters from 5th graders to be judged across the State. Winners were selected from each school were awarded by Major Finley and the Madison Beatification and Tree Board


Madison City Hall Council Chamber
Wednesday, February 28th, 5:30pm

"Crepe Myrtle Proper Care and Trimming"
Lecturer: Reginald L. Randolph, Certified Arborist, 
Owner/Operator of Professional Vegetation Management

Opening Remarks from Vice President of Beautification, Amber Braman, welcomed Madison City residents, fellow Master Gardeners, and Certified Arborists to 2018 Arbor Day Workshop. She solicited attendees who may be interested in joining the Beautification Board to apply.

Beautification Board Volunteer and Certified Arborist, Liz Smith, organized the event and introduced Mr Randolph.

Crape Myrtles are an iconic plant in the Southeastern United States that can serve as hedging plants, as framing for front door entries, and as the primary focal points of gardens.  The tree like shrub has undergone 200 years of cultivation to become what it is today. The hundreds of varieties span from 3 foot tall dwarf plants to 20 foot tall canopy tree like structures, and their colors range from Spring to Fall with their clusters of flowers and changing foliage. The many benefits of the Crape Myrtle cultivars include disease resistance and cold tolerance that make it an ideal plant to grow in the North Alabama area. Size is important to consider when selecting Crape Myrtles. If you find a variety that can grow to 15-20 feet, trying to prune to 6 feet tall isn’t going to work. Find the right size for the right place in your landscape, it will save you money and time.

Crape Myrtles are a hardy plant that need pruning. By properly trimming these plants, you are providing more air flow, more sun light, less chance of disease, and better bloom development. Ideal pruning of Crape Myrtles should enhance the beauty, improve the health, and preserve the natural shape of the plant. By adhering to the following steps, you can have a better Crape Myrtle in your landscape:

  1. Pruning should take place during winter when all the leaves have dropped
  2. Starting from the base of the plant, remove any suckers (these compete with leader branches)
  3. Cut side branches and any branches that are rubbing against other branches
  4. Cut branches from the middle of the canopy to allow more airflow and sunlight to move through the plant
  5. Finally, finish by shaping the plant in a pleasing manner
There are many issues with over pruning Crape Myrtles. ‘Crape Murder’, a phrase coined in recent years, refers to over pruning these plants and ruining the ideal shape and health of the plant. In many cases, over pruning can destroy years of hard work of shaping and can cause disease. Crape Myrtles ideally benefit from avoiding hard cuts which create knobs which look like a club. Those knobs do have new growth, but the new branches tend to be loaded down with flowers which cause the plant to droop. It is better to cut back to the collar of the plant than to make a knob.

Members of the audience solicited advice on how to come back from 'crape murder'. Randolph continued his lecture with suggestions to possibly improve and save the integrity of the shrub. 

If you inherited a ‘Crape Murder’, you have two options to correct the issue and possibly save the plant. The first and best option is to cut the plant down to 1-2 inches above the ground and allow suckers to develop. You will then choose a few of those suckers to continue as new leaders. Afterwards, you will need to continue cutting back any new suckers. Recovery can take up to 3 to 5 years. Keeping no more than 4-6 leaders is best. Another option is to cut out all knobs that have formed at the end of the leaders and thin out to a few leaders. Removing the knobs can help establish healthier growth.

Randolph finished the presentation with recommendations of some of his favorite Crepe Myrtles. If you’re considering purchasing a Crape Myrtle for your landscape, here are a few cultivars worth mentioning:
  • Muscagee – disease resistant, light lavender blooms, 25 feet
  • Tonto – mildew resistant, dark fuchsia-red blooms, 8-15 feet
  • Plum Magic – semi dwarf, hot pink
  • Crimson Red Black Diamond – new striking black foliage, red blooms, 10-12 feet
  • Natchez – powdery mildew resistant, stark white blooms, 3-5 foot growth per year
  • Tonto Hardy – disease resistant, red-pink blooms, 8-10 feet (ideal size for small gardens or containers)


Madison Beautification and Tree Board, Public Works, and Major Finley finished up Arbor week by planting new trees at Madison City Municipal Building.  Two flowering Cherries and one replacement Japanese Maple were installed at three different locations on the property. The Board looks forward to continuing working to be a Tree City USA community.

Madison City recognized as a Tree City USA since 2001
{pictured: Liz Smith, Paul Finley, Reggie Randolph,
Levoneia Ayers, Gerald Clark, Amber Braman, and Public Works}

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