Pro Tips and Ideas for Great Crepe Myrtle Tree Care
Because they boast magnificent blooms in summer, colorful foliage in fall and visually appealing bark in winter, the crepe myrtle tree is an attractive option for landscaping, no matter the time of year. They also offer great range, as there are smaller and shorter shrubby dwarf varieties as well as gigantic trees. They come in many colors, from white to shades of deep red and purple and can also be easily grown as single or multi-trunk specimens. Crepe myrtle tree care is relatively simple, which also adds to their appeal.
Types of crepe myrtle trees
There are several types of crepe myrtle trees, so using them in the landscape offers a few options in color and height.
Natchez White Crepe Myrtle
The Natchez white crepe myrtle is a dwarf shrub or small tree often used in landscaping. It is a hybrid variety widely grown both in the southern part of the United States as well as in the northern states. The Natchez white crepe myrtle usually grows to a height of 20 to 30 feet in the southern regions, and its flowers grow in clusters that last longer than those of other flowering plants.
Blooms yield brownish fruits that last through winter. Crepe myrtle tree care for this variety does not require a great deal of fertilizing, which would reduce the tree’s blossoms. The Natchez white crepe myrtle is highly resistant to mildew, making them perfect for damper areas.
Red Rocket Crepe Myrtle
Perfect for areas that need a great deal of color that lasts into the later part of the year, the red rocket crepe myrtle produces enormous blooms all through autumn. In the spring, they bloom with large, cherry red clusters. Some flowers reach 8 inches in size. During autumn, foliage turns bright orange and then changes to crimson before turning green in the spring. This type of crepe myrtle grows to a height of approximately 20 to 30 feet with widths of 8 to 10 feet. Crepe myrtle tree care of the red rocket is extremely simple, as it is a natural plant that requires very little maintenance. Left alone, they grow outward with multiple stems. However, growing them with a single trunk requires only some training.
Purple Crepe Myrtle
The purple crepe myrtle is a semi-dwarf variety that grows to heights of 6 to 10 feet with widths of 5 to 6 feet at full maturity. They boast large clusters of dark purple blossoms and have foliage that is dark reddish-orange before changing to dark, glossy green. Planting them in areas of full sun is advisable, as they bloom best in full sunlight. Unfortunately, crepe myrtle tree care for this variety is a little more hands-on, as they are prone to mildew, black spot and aphids. This is preventable with regular inspections.
Pink Crepe Myrtle
As its name would imply, the pink crepe myrtle blooms with soft pink flowers beginning in summer and have dark purple foliage. When planted in full sunlight, they grow well and produce more blooms. They grow to heights of 10 to 12 feet with widths of 8 to 10 feet, so they are perfect for use as ornamental trees as well as for creating privacy. Because they have a tendency of spreading as they grow, planting them 4 to 5 feet apart is wise.
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The how, when and where to plant
Because crepe myrtles are very resilient and extremely hardy, they are not limited to one specific time of year for planting. However, they should always be well watered. All varieties of crepe myrtle trees love sunlight and are extremely heat tolerant, so they need planting in areas that receive at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Some partial shade during the day is not harmful, but this may result in fewer blooms. Soil-wise, crepe myrtle tree care requires only soil that has good drainage.
When planting, dig a hole twice as wide and just as deep as the tree’s container. Center the tree within the hole and fill the hole in stages, watering with each stage. To ensure that the root system can breathe and take in oxygen, position the top of the root ball slightly above ground level. Stake the tree, if needed, for extra stability and water thoroughly after planting.
Crepe Myrtle Tree Care Tips
Crepe myrtle trees bloom from late spring through summer on new growth, so pruning in winter during dormancy is best. If you prefer a single-trunk tree, prune side branches that could potentially compete with the leader. Also reduce the sprouts that emerge from the base of the plant. For multi-trunk trees, prune them with the intention of shaping the tree and preventing the individual trunks from becoming crowded or touching one another as well as keeping the center open enough for the passage of light and air. The cultivation of a more natural, shrub-like look requires very little pruning other than for the purpose of maintaining healthy branches and to thin out as needed.
Learn more about pruning crepe myrtles and avoiding "crepe murder."
During growing season, trim wilted flowers for the promotion of a second blooming. Additional pruning to clean up the tree in winter is also advisable. Remove any branches that cross or crowd the center as well as any diseased or dead wood. Over-pruning or lopping the top off can often result in the crepe myrtle putting all of its growth energy into producing new branches and leaves rather than producing blooms. This may result in larger blooms the following season, but larger bloom clusters can actually be too heavy, which causes drooping and breakage of new branches. Pruning aggressively year after year also creates knobby growth at the cut point that is more vulnerable to disease and diminishes the beauty of the tree.
Soil for Good Growth
Crepe myrtles grow well in nearly any type of soil. However, soil with high alkaline levels may result in yellow foliage. The most important factor for healthy growth is good drainage.
During the first spring or summer growing season, young crepe myrtle trees need light fertilization once a month. Slow-release fertilizers applied at the first signs of new growth in early spring benefit established crepe myrtle trees or shrubs. Later, crepe myrtles need light fertilization twice a month during spring and summer because they feed heavily during growing season. Water well after every application of fertilizer and apply mulch, which protects roots during winter.
Established crepe myrtle trees and shrubs are tolerant to drought. Still, during their first few growing seasons, weekly watering is necessary. In periods of extreme heat, twice weekly watering is best.
Diseases and Pests that Threaten Crepe Myrtles
The leading disease problems that crepe myrtles experience are fungal leaf spot and powdery mildew. However, they are also somewhat susceptible to scale and aphids.
Crepe Myrtle Tree Care Experts
At Executive Landscaping, Inc., we work with clients all throughout the Gulf Coast and have years of experience with crepe myrtle tree care. Our goal is always creating a unique, colorful masterpiece for our clients, and we consider beautiful trees as paint for our canvas.
Call Executive Landscaping, Inc. to learn more about crepe myrtle tree care and the many other outdoor services we offer today!
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