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Back Issue Archives
Have you trimmed your crape myrtles yet? If you said NO, good for you! If you said yes, then consider yourself chastised by the Garden Guru. Back in December I tried to warn all of my faithful GardenLine Email Subscribers and listeners. Sadly, what you will see in February is people over-pruning their crapes. Yes, you can trim them now, but how you trim them and how much you trim them is what I need you to focus on today. If youıve already trimmed them, youıve probably participated in what I call the annual CRAPE MYRTLE MASSACRES or as a colleague of mind calls it CRAPE MURDER. This is when many folks are guilty of topping too-tall plants during the pruning season, thereby ruining their natural shape. The massacre also takes place when zealot pruners cut back all the growth to the same location year after year, forming what I call the knuckles and what some people call the fists. Check out these websites to see the proper versus improper pruning of Crapes.
I suppose many people who are over-pruning think
that the more new wood they produce the more new flowers
they will get. That is errant thinking because very heavy
pruning can lead to a multitude of problems and the treeıs
diminished health. The vigorous new growth off the knuckles
is weakly attached and prone to snap in bad weather. This in
turn makes the trees more susceptible to insects and diseases.
Professional crape growers will tell you that lighter prunings
bring satisfactory results. They will also tell you that there
are really only three basics things need to be remember during
the pruning season:
1. Remove any weak or dead looking limbs.
2. Remove water sprouts and crisscrossing wood.
3. Finally, the only absolute pruning you must do
to encourage better blooms this year, is to remove any of the
old seed pods from the tops of the crapes.
A lot of people have asked me over the years, how
these plants got their names. The name is derived from
the crinkled and ruffled petals (which resemble crape paper)
on the end of the long, slender claw and the resemblance of
the leaves to the true myrtle. The plant is native to
China where the people have cultivated it since time
immemorial, and during the Tıang Dynasty (A.D. 618-906)
it was a favorite ornamental tree extensively planted
in the palace gardens of the emperor and around official
buildings. Its botanical name is the Lagerstroemia. But
I donıt know too many people that have actually ever
called it by its botanical name.
Caring for Crapes is actually quite easy. Yes
they do get some fungal diseases and pest problems,
but Iıve rarely ever seen where one of those problems
actually killed a crape myrtle. And to that end, even
though I donıt want you to participate in the Annual
Crape Myrtle Massacre, Iıve never seen over-pruning
kill a crape either. They are absolutely the most
resilient landscape shrub/tree we can include in our
landscapes. Feeding the Crape Myrtle is quite easy
as well. Everything from Rose Food to Bloom Boosters
works on these hardy specimens. Personally, I like the
idea of feeding crapes Systemic Rose Food, once a month
beginning in April, to help fight off any insect problems.
The one serious fungal problem that crapes suffer from is
White Powdery Mildew, usually early in the spring. This
can normally be prevented with systemic fungicides such
as Kocide or Mancozeb. And it can be washed away quite
easily and semi-cured with the fungicide known as Consan.
Plus, there are number of varieties (listed later) that
are resistant to White Powdery Mildew. However, even
those varieties that report resistance to White Powdery
Mildew, often get the disease if the plant does not have
good air circulation around it.
The summer is actually the best time to buy
crapes, so you can see the blooms, and know what youıre
getting. But buying the right crape myrtle for the right
spot is even more important. Crapes come in a variety of
varieties. What I mean is, that they come in wide range
of mature heights. Pruning to reduce size will lead you
to the CRAPE MYRTLE MASSACRE discussed earlier. So, to
help you towards that end, here is a list of recommended
varieties based on their mature height. Finally, before
the list, there is a new Crape Myrtle Society that has
formed. If you canıt get enough of these versatile
landscape plants, you might want to think about
joining this brand new group which just formed this past
summer, and is based right here in Texas. Here is their
Web site for more information:http://www.thecrapemyrtlesocietyofamerica.org
Tree Form -
Mature at 20 feet & taller
Bashum Party Pink (Pink? well duh?)
Miami (Dark Pink)
Muskogee (Light Purple/Lavender)
Tuscarora (Dark Red)
Large Shrubs/Patio Trees -
Mature at 10 to 20 feet
Apalachee (Light Purple/Lavender)
Tuskegee ( Dark Pink)
Regal Red (Dark Red well, duh?)
Pink Lace (Light Pink)
Medium Shrubs -
Mature height 5 to 10 feet
Pecus (Medium Pink)
Tonto (Bright red)
Near East (Peach/Pink)
Miniaturized/ Container Plants -
Mature height under 5 feet
Delta Blush (Pink)
New Orleans (Dark Purple)
Until next week, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
exclusively weekend mornings from 8 to noon
on Talkradio 950 KPRC.
| In The Next
Next week, more gardening advice from Randy!
Here's to great gardening!