Well if you couldn’t tell it was summer already based off the weather, maybe all of the blooming crape myrtles tipped you off!
Crape myrtles are a perfect addition to any southern landscape due to their ability to handle our hot summers and their beautiful color show put on in late fall. Crapes come in a wide variety of colors and sizes and are easily trained to either take on the appearance of a shrub or tree. Even the bark of crape myrtles is pretty and comes in varying colors!
Training a crape myrtle to look like a tree is actually extremely easy. First, you cut back all of the limbs growing from the ground except for three to five of the strongest. Then just continue to cut off any branches growing out of these limbs so that half of the crape has no branches growing. As the plant continues to get taller, simply cut the lowest branches off to maintain the shape. One quick note: Don’t cut the crape myrtle’s new growth back to its point of origin each winter. This is actually extremely bad for the plant and can lead to a decay of the interior wood.
Crape myrtles do best in well-drained soil with around six hours of direct sunlight. They also prefer applications of fertilizers with low phosphorous in late February or early March. Although crapes are extremely hearty, they do have two natural enemies: powdery mildew and aphids. Generally, most crape myrtle varieties with a Native American title are resistant to powdery mildew. If your plant is infected with powdery mildew, there is a wide range of organic or otherwise fungicides that can be applied. As for aphids, you can either knock them off with a strong blast of water or employ some of the helpers we discussed in an earlier blog.
If you would like to add some crape myrtles to your landscape, or just need a little help getting them to look the way you want, let one of Complete Landsculpture’s talented teams come give you a hand!
By: Wylee Wooldridge
There’s a hidden fungus growing on the roots of 90 percent of the plants on this planet. What does this mean for your plants? That they’re going to be extra healthy!
Mycorrhiza is a fungus which forms a mutualistic relationship with plants by attaching itself to their roots and aiding in all things plants do. The name of this fungus literally means “root fungus” as it is derived from Myco (fungus) and rhiza (roots). So how exactly does this fungus benefit plant systems?
Mycorrhiza attaches itself to the roots of plants forming a fuzzy outer lining. Thanks to the added surface area provided by the fungus, plants become much better at absorbing water and nutrients from the soil meaning less water and fertilizer is required. In return for these great benefits, the plants supply a steady source of carbohydrates in the form of glucose and sucrose to the fungus.
This fungus has also been shown to help plants in breaking down certain demineralized nutrients, such as phosphate ions, which a plant would have otherwise not had access to. In a similar process, this fungus has also been found to give plants an enhanced pathogen resistance by way of acting as a barrier between the plants roots and potential harmful agents. Mycorrhiza can even help plants break down petroleum and heavy metals at contaminated sites!
So what does this all mean for a gardener? Mycorrhiza can help you make transplanting a breeze. You can actually buy mycorrhiza inoculates which can then be either mixed in with your soil before planting or watered in like a standard fertilizer. It’s like giving your plants a new best friend!
By: Wylee Wooldridge
Saving water, not worrying about water restrictions and having a healthier lawn; you could have all of this with just a simple drip irrigation system!
Drip irrigation has long been a fixture in the commercial agriculture community due to its extreme efficiency with water. Slowly delivering water directly to the ground, and therefore to the plants’ roots, drastically cuts the amount of water lost due to evaporation and gives the soil a better chance to absorb the water. Some studies even show drip irrigation can cut outdoor water needs by up to 70 percent!
But what exactly is drip irrigation? In a nutshell, it’s the application of water directly to the soil where your plants’ roots need it most. Drip irrigation really isn’t that complex, although it does require a decent amount of equipment to get the pressure correct and keep sediment out of the fine holes in the tubing. Let’s look over exactly what goes into a drip irrigation system.
First, you’ll want to buy a timer if you’re using your outdoor spigot. This will help ensure that your garden and trees are getting the correct amount of water even when you aren’t home. You’ll then want to attach some sort of diverter, such as a T or Y hose so that you can continue using your hose.
Next you’ll need to get a pressure regulator. Drip irrigation systems are centered around the fact that they don’t need to use high pressure water as they literally drip water onto the soil. Most households’ water pressure is far too high, therefore the need for a pressure regulator. To the pressure regulator you should then add a filter. Water is delivered to the soil through tiny holes in the tubing which could get clogged due to the sediment in the water. A filter with a mesh of 120 to 150 should be perfect.
As for the water emitter, you’ll have your choice from drip tape, drip circles or emitter tubing. Drip tape is great for raised garden beds or if your garden is planted in rows. Drip circles are ideal for trees. You’ll want to place your drip circles at your tree’s drip line. To figure out where your drip line is, imagine your tree’s foliage as a giant umbrella. A circle around your tree where the foliage/umbrella ends is your tree’s drip line. Your last option is the emitter tubing which is the best bet for landscaped beds as it can bend to the shape of the bed and even curl around plants.
If you would like help designing the perfect drip irrigation system or would like some help installing a drip irrigation system, give the Certified Irrigation Specialists at Complete Landsculpture a call.
By: Wylee Wooldridge