Crepe Myrtle Care
The Crepe Myrtle has practically become a staple in the landscape of the South. Not only does it provide a good show year round, but it requires very little care and leaves new gardeners begging for more! One of the most debated issues with this beauty is deciding whether or not to prune it. Ultimately, this decision boils down to preference. Allowing natural growth will obviously provide an amazing show. However depending on the variety, if left unattended, the Crepe Myrtle can grow up to 30 ft tall!
A good rule of thumb for pruning is to only shorten the highest branches by 2-3 feet with pruners or loppers. Branches that are 2” or greater and in need of a trim should only be cut back to a larger branch of the trunk. Avoid cutting all branches to the knot of the tree as this encourages thin branches that cannot support next season’s bloom.
As you are pruning your tree, keep in mind that it is essential to maintain good air circulation. If you see branches that cross, rub against each other, or grow toward the center of the tree, remove just enough to prevent the limbs from overcrowding. It is also a good idea to remove side branches that grow from the main trunk up to a height of at least 4 feet. Be cautious to not over prune your Crepe Myrtle. Too much pruning will cause shoots to grow out from the base of the tree, causing you more work in the end.
After your Crepe Myrtles first bloom, the flowers will grow seed pods. Once the seed pods turn brown and crack open, prune back to the bud. Doing so will increase the chances of future blooms and prevent branches from sagging due to excess weight.
Last but not least, be sure to fertilize the soil annually in the springtime with a high nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer. Crepe Myrtles prefer a somewhat acidic soil pH that is generally between 5.0 and 6.5.
Late fall to early spring is the best time to plant your Crepe Myrtle. This allows it to establish a strong root system before the heat of the summer approaches. However, before purchasing your Crepe Myrtle, be sure to research the different varieties and their growing habits.
Decide where you wish to plant your tree first, evaluate how much room/height you actually have, and choose the size that works best for the location. Also, keep in mind that Crepe Myrtles love sunshine! In fact, if placed in a shady area, your crepe myrtle may refuse to flower the way you expect it to.
Watering and Moisture Control
Obviously, watering is a necessity for your tree to survive. However, there are two bad habits to refrain from when watering. Overhead watering and Stagnant Water.
- Overhead watering is when you spray water directly on the blooming portion of the tree. This encourages fungus to grow and spread throughout the blooms and foliage.
- Stagnant water is when you allow water to puddle up around the base of the tree for long periods of time. If the soil is soggy, we recommend establishing a plan to encourage proper drainage around the tree. If left unattended, fungus can severely damage your Crepe Myrtle.
Landscaping can be very therapeutic for some, but stressful for others. If you find yourself frustrated or just do not have the time, give our Waynes Landscape team a call. We will be happy to send one of our professionals out to create and maintain the perfect look for your home! 1-866-WAYNES-1.