Crape Myrtles and Improving their Blooms
This entry was posted on July 24, 2016.
Why Crape Myrtles
If the image of Crape Myrtle blooms does not make you want to plant some of your own, then the following reasons definitely will:
There are hundreds of Lagerstroemia spp (Crape Myrtle) sizes and colors that are available to you. Based on your garden theme, your gardening needs, and the time that you set aside to garden, there are endless possibilities!
Crape Myrtles are so terrifically low-maintenance that those of us who spend minimal time in their garden can grow them easily.
As you can see, the plant produces profuse blooms. If you want a splash of color in your summer garden, then a crape myrtle is the plant for you. You can choose from white to lavender, pink to purple, and magenta to red producing varieties that will all bloom midsummer.
Another good thing about crape myrtles is that they are available in all possible shapes and sizes. If you have a small garden, then you could go for the knee-high shrubby dwarfs. We recommend the Magic Series. If you have more space, then why not choose a variety that towers above the other plants!
Selecting Crape Myrtles
- Habit (shrub vs. tree)
- Color of bloom
- Degree of bark exfoliation
- Disease resistance
Planting Crape Myrtles
Crape myrtles are dormant in cool weather, which is the ideal time to plant them. Use the acronym DAMP to remember what you need to do.
|is for digging a hole that is twice as big as the myrtle’s root ball|
|is for the soil amendments that you need not make while planting this absurdly easy to maintain plant. However, if you will be filling an entire plant bed with the crape myrtles, then consider to prevent the soil-forming high-nutrient pockets that do not allow proper root branching out.|
|is for the 3″- 5″ of mulch that goes around the myrtle’s base.|
|is for the planting depth that should be what it was in the nursery pot. Use loosened soil for backfill.|
Once you are done with the planting, water your crape myrtle and do so regularly at least once a week in cool weather. If the weather is hot or the soil sandy, increase the frequency to five times a week. Keep watering this way for about two months or until established. If you see your crape myrtle wilting where the leaves are starting to droop, this is a sign that it needs water asap.
While north’s colder climates will inhibit crape myrtle growth, the plants can be grown all over the country. A few pointers to help crape myrtle growers are as follows:
- Hardiness zones 6-10 but keep in mind that die back will occur in zone 6 during winter.
- Humid climate but considerably drought tolerant after establishment
- Six hours or more of direct sunlight
- Well drained soils of any kind
- Neutral to slightly acidic soil pH
- Annual Slow Release fertilizer feeding in early spring
Pruning Crape Myrtles
Why Prune Crape Myrtle Trees
- Blooms will appear on crape myrtles only on their new growth, therefore, removal of older branches will allow new growth
- Light late winter or early spring pruning can keep the crape myrtles in a neat shape
- Too large trees can grow up and interfere if planted under power lines
Don’ts of Pruning
- No pruning in summer or fall or you could end up stressing the trees out. During summers, it is too hot for the crape myrtles to afford new growth while new growth could be damaged by the low temperatures in the fall.
- If timed right, most crape myrtle varieties can bloom a second time. While deadheading crape myrtles, follow the steps given below for a subsequent blooming season.
- Do not deadhead too late in the cold weather or new growth could be damaged.
- Deadhead your crape myrtles at the end of July, so they will rebloom in the next summer.
- If your variety is a late bloomer that keeps on going straight through until fall, then do not deadhead it.
- Use a clean and sterile tool to deadhead and make good clean cuts. Jagged cuts can get infected.
- It is not essential to deadhead crape myrtles.
The Do’s of Pruning
- Damaged or broken branches
- Dead branches
- Branches with dark color under the bark
- Rubbing or crossing branches
- Few branches from the center to allow light and air to circulate
- Branches that take away from your desired shape
- Branches way taller than the rest
No Blooms ? - Following are a few reasons why your crape myrtle might not be blooming:
You Pruned Too Late
Pruning late in the season may have resulted in removal of the new wood, which would mean that the buds never really developed to bloom into flowers. Do not prune a crepe myrtle before it has bloomed.
You Did Not Prune Enough
As mentioned before, if the dead branches inside the tree have not been pruned, there would be no air or light circulation within. Allowing the air to pass through keeps the branches dry, so that a fungal infection is less likely. The passage of light ensures the health of the plants as well.
Crape Myrtle Does Not Get Enough Sun
If your plant is not getting 6 hours or more in the sun, then it will not bloom. Make sure that the place where you plant a crape myrtle is not one that blocks the sun from reaching the tree.
If all the other things mentioned above check out, then the culprit for no blooms could be the soil! Check if the soil has enough phosphorus and not an excess of nitrogen. Nitrogen promotes leaf growth, instead of flowering.
We hope that this article helps you grow crape myrtles with abundant blossoms. Get your gardener on!