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