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How to Grow Crape Myrtles

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About Crape Myrtles

With literally hundreds of sizes and colors available, crape (or crepe) myrtles are a terrific, low-maintenance choice for prolific blooms during hot, humid summers. Nowadays, many varieties are hybrids that maximize the colorful blooms of the common crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and/or the distinctive bark, cold hardiness, and disease-resistance of the Japanese crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia faurei).

Crape myrtles bloom in midsummer, with colors including white, lavender, purple, pink, magenta, and red. After blooming, they develop distinctive seed heads, then the leaves tend to fall toward the end of autumn, leaving the colorful, exfoliating bark for the winter.

Exfoliating bark on crape myrtle.

Selecting Crape Myrtles

Crape Myrtles truly come in every possible size and shape, from knee-high shrubby dwarf plants to towering tree forms, so it is possible to choose a variety that exactly fits your purpose. When choosing crape myrtles for your yard, there are several factors to consider including:

  • Height
  • Natural shape (shrub vs. tree)
  • Flower color
  • Amount of bark exfoliation
  • Disease resistance

Planting Crape Myrtles

Ideally, crape myrtles should be planted in cool weather when they’re dormant, here’s how to go about it:

  • Dig Hole: Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball on the crape myrtle.
  • Soil amendments: It’s usually not necessary to amend the soil when planting crape myrtles, unless you’re amending the entire planting bed, since pockets of high-nutrient soil can prevent the roots from branching out properly.
  • Planting Depth: Plant your crape myrtle at the same depth it was in the nursery pot, and backfill with loosened soil.
  • Mulch: Apply 3″- 5″ of mulch around the base of your crape myrtle.
  • Watering: Water your newly planted crape myrtle thoroughly after planting. Water newly planted crape myrtles at least once a week if dormant and in cool weather, and up to five times a week if planted during hot weather or in very sandy soil. Water new plants regularly for about two months, and water during drought for better blooms and healthier plants.

Growing Crape Myrtles

Crape myrtles can be grown in much of the U.S., except colder climates in the north. Here’s what you need to know to grow crape myrtles in your yard:

  • Climate: Crape myrtles can be grown in hardiness zones 6-10, although in zone 6 they’re likely to die back to the ground in winter.
  • Water: Crape myrtles like humid climates. Once established, they can tolerate quite a bit of drought.
  • Light: Crape myrtles flower best in full sun (at least six hours per day).
  • Soil: Crape myrtles do well in most any kind of soil, as long as it’s well-drained. The ideal soil pH is neutral to slightly acidic.
  • Fertilizer: Crape myrtles benefit from annual feeding with a general-purpose or high-nitrogen fertilizer, in early spring as soon as you see leaves. If you want to fertilize twice, do the second application about two months later. Slow-release fertilizer can help prevent rapid sucker growth that is vulnerable to diseases and insects. Take advantage of the toughness of these plants – too much fertilization can actually result in excessive leaf growth and fewer blooms!

Pruning Crape Myrtles

Seed heads on crape myrtle.

Depending on the variety, crape myrtles can have different shapes and sizes. The miniature, or dwarf, varieties are generally bred to have lots of branches, and they tend to look shrublike and shouldn’t need pruning unless they are growing unevenly.

Medium and large varieties tend to develop sucker growth, or small shoots at the base of the trunk. These may be pruned off if desired, and the entire plant may be pruned according to your tastes. For varieties that bloom before mid-July, deadheading can often result in a second blooming.

  • When to Prune: Crape myrtles bloom on this year’s new growth (sometimes called “new wood”), so prune during late winter before growth starts. Fall pruning, especially in warm climates, can result in a quick growth response that prevents dormancy and makes winter freezes potentially deadly.
  • How to Prune: There are two schools of thought, and quite a bit of debate, about larger pruning jobs. Some gardeners like to lop off all stems at a uniform height each year, leaving branch stubs in the winter that flush out into a ball of growth in the spring. This is useful if you want a uniform border and height control, but it can result in bunchy growth and knobby stems that may be more susceptible to aphids and disease. Other gardeners decry this method as “crape murder” and adopt a less aggressive approach that conforms more to the natural size and shape of the plant. Most growers and researchers agree that only light pruning is necessary for plenty of blooms, so the choice is really yours.
Crape myrtle in bloom!

To achieve a graceful tree shape that shows off the lovely bark, first remove all but 3-5 strong trunks. Then remove lateral branches on the bottom half of the tree. Make “heading back” cuts on long, leggy limbs to encourage branching. Don’t over prune in the beginning – make the basic cuts and then allow the plant to grow, and continue shaping over time.

The best decision about the size of your crape myrtle is made when you buy it. Buy the right variety to fit the space! If you buy a 15′ variety and try to keep it 7′ tall, you will prune yourself silly. Instead, buy a 7′ variety, and you will find yourself with an incredibly low-maintenance plant.

Pests and Diseases for Crape Myrtles

Crepe myrtles are susceptible to several diseases and pests, including:

  • Powdery Mildew: The most common scourge of crape myrtles is powdery mildew – particularly during hot, humid days followed by cool, dewy nights. Treat with a general fungicide.
  • Sooty Mold: This is caused by the excretions of pests such as aphids. Treat with the appropriate insecticide.
  • Leaf Spot: Another common problem is leaf spot (Cercospora lythracearum), which resembles dark brown spots on the leaves that then turn yellow and fall off. Treat with a general fungicide.
  • Root Rot: Crape myrtles can also be affected by root rot, caused by poorly-draining soil.

Further Information

  • Why Aren’t My Crape Myrtles Blooming? (article)
  • How to Deadhead Crape Myrtles for Second Blooming (article)
  • How to Grow Crape Myrtle from Seed (article)
  • Crapemyrtle Varieties (Clemson University)
  • Crapemyrtle Q&A (U.S. National Arboretum)

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Crape Myrtle Watering 101: How Much to Water Your New or Older Plant

Crape Myrtles are known for being easy-going plants that can tolerate various conditions. Still, knowing how best to care for these beauties will ensure the best results come blooming season. Crape Myrtles do have some preferences that you should know about when it comes to water. 

Crape Myrtles need at least one inch of water per week, with more during especially hot and dry weather. Still, these plants are fairly drought resistant once they’ve matured. Though Crape Myrtles like a good and deep soaking, issues like poor drainage and overwatering can lead to problems.

Thankfully, once Crape Myrtles are established, you most likely won’t need to give them much water, assuming you’re getting regular amounts of rainfall. But when a Crape Myrtle has just been planted, it will take a bit more attention on your part. Read on to find out how much water your Crape Myrtle will need and the differences between watering new and established plants. 


How Much Water Does a Crape Myrtle Need?

The amount of water that your Crape Myrtle needs ultimately depends on the plant’s size and your soil composition. The time of year and weather also matter when it comes to watering a Crape Myrtle. In general, Crape Myrtles like moist soil, especially when they are young and newly planted. Once they’re established, though, they’re much more tolerant of dry periods.  

Crape Myrtles just need enough water to keep moist and hydrated, which means they don’t need a deep soaking every day. If you’re getting rain regularly, you shouldn’t have to water your established, mature Crape. Still, there may be times when hot and dry weather leads to dry soil. 

During those periods, you’ll need to supplement with a deep, thorough soaking about once per week. An easy way to check the moisture is to stick your finger into the soil. If it feels very dry, then it’s time to water your plant. If it feels moist, then you know there’s still some water content in the soil.

Keep in mind that the amount of water your Crape Myrtle will need depends a lot on your soil. For example, if you live in an area with clay soil, it will retain water and drain slower than if you have sandy soil.


Do Crape Myrtles Like Wet or Dry Soil? 

Crape Myrtles like moist soil – not too wet, not too dry. However, if you’re going to lean one way or the other, these plants can tolerate dry soil much better than wet soil. Crape Myrtles do not do well with soggy roots. Well-draining soil is essential to your plant’s health.  

Crape Myrtles are versatile and generally easy to please.  You can plant them in less-than-ideal soil conditions and still have a beautiful, blooming shrub or tree each summer. But certain conditions do make it much harder for your Crape Myrtle to thrive. Soggy soil is one of them. Poorly drained, sopping wet soil can lead to root rot and other diseases.   

If you’re uncertain of how much water your soil is retaining, there are some easy ways to test the drainage. 

Follow these steps to check if your soil is well-draining: 
  1. Dig a hole about 12 inches wide and 12-18 inches deep.
  2. Place a ruler or stick into the hole, so it’s standing straight up. 
  3. Fill the hole with water and let it drain completely. 
  4. Re-fill the hole, marking or taking note of the water level on your stick.
  5. Measure the water level every hour for several hours.  
  6. If the soil is well-draining, the water will drain at least one inch per hour.

How to Water a Newly Planted Crape Myrtle

When your Crape Myrtle is newly planted, it will need a little more TLC. The most important factor is the plant’s location, so it’s always a good idea to ensure that the area is well-draining and gets enough sunlight before you plant your new Crape Myrtle. 

Once it’s in the ground, water your newly planted Crape Myrtle thoroughly. Give it a good, deep soaking to completely saturated the soil. Check the soil daily to ensure that it stays moist while the plant gets established in its new home. 

During the dormant months, you should water your new Crape Myrtle about once per week (maybe more, depending on the weather). During the warmer months, you’ll need to water your Crape Myrtle much more frequently. If you live in a very hot area and don’t get any rain, you may need to water your Crape Myrtle every other day for a while.

Continue to water your new Crape Myrtle regularly, several times per week, for at least the first two to four months. This is especially important during the active growing season and during the summer. Keeping the soil moist (but not soaked) will be essential for getting the best blooms on your Crape Myrtle.


How and When to Water an Established Crape Myrtle

Once your Crape Myrtle is established in its new home, it will be much more self-sufficient, and you won’t have to water it so often. Your plant will typically be considered “established” after the first year. Still, there may be times when you need to give it a drink if you’re not getting enough rain in your area. 

An established Crape Myrtle can tolerate quite a bit of drought, and they can live in dry, sandy soils as long as they get water periodically. A good rule of thumb is to give your Crape Myrtle a thorough, deep watering at least once or twice per month. You may need to increase the frequency of waterings if you live in a very hot and dry area, if your soil is very sandy, or if your Crape Myrtle is very large.  

A deep soaking would be watering it to a depth of about six inches. An easy way to give your Crape Myrtle a deep watering is by using a soaker hose. Doing so will allow the water to soak down into the soil without creating a boggy mess around the plant’s root ball.

It’s always best to water the soil at the base of the plant and not spray the plant with water directly. Spraying water on the leaves and branches can increase the chances for various molds and pests to take hold of the foliage. 

Take special care not to overwater your Crape Myrtle, especially during the spring and summer months when the plant is actively growing. Overwatering your Crape can cause its flower production to be stunted or lead to root rot and other problems.

You can water anytime that the ground isn’t frozen during the winter months. If you live in a warm area where the ground doesn’t freeze, you should water your Crape Myrtle once or twice per month during the dormant season.


Putting It All Together

Crape Myrtles are great options for any lawn or garden because they are versatile and easy to grow. Their brightly colored, delicate flowers make these trees perfect for standalone showpieces or complementary shrubs. A big part of their popularity is because Crape Myrtles can grow in less-than-ideal conditions. You can grow them in sandy or clay soil, and they can tolerate high temperatures and drought conditions.

Still, to have the best results with your Crape Myrtle, you’ll need to know and understand its needs when it comes to watering. Ideally, your Crape Myrtle would like to have moist soil all the time. If you live in an area where that’s unlikely to happen naturally, you can give it a drink a couple of times per month by applying a deep soaking to a depth of about six inches. 

When your Crape Myrtle is new, you’ll need to give it much more water and keep it thoroughly hydrated until it becomes established. In either case, take care not to overwater your Crape Myrtle. These plants don’t do well in overly saturated soil conditions, and if the soil doesn’t drain well enough, it may lead to bigger problems down the road.  

You can help your Crape Myrtle conserve moisture by putting a 1-2 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant. Doing so will help insulate the roots, keep them cooler during the summer, warmer during the winter, and help retain moisture under the soil during dry periods. 

Rules for watering fruit trees in summer: instructions and recommendations for summer residents

Summer is a special time for summer residents. This is the period of both flowering fruit and berry trees and dry days. To achieve tree growth and a rich harvest, it is necessary to follow the rules for watering them. We will tell you how to water fruit trees in summer, and also give a detailed guide on the norms and rules of irrigation.

Dmitry Mayorov

Pixabay

Water for trees, as well as for us, is a necessary condition for life. Thanks to it, plants receive minerals from the soil and spread from roots to leaves. Due to lack of moisture, they lose in the development and quantity of the crop.

Contents of the article

Many gardeners pay attention to watering vegetable and flower crops, and fruit trees are bypassed: they say it will rain. But in order to get a good harvest and save the garden during a drought, it is imperative to follow the rules and norms for irrigating fruit trees.

Should fruit trees be watered in summer?

Watering trees in summer is just as important as in other periods.

Reasons for watering are as follows:

  1. Maintain the growth of young trees that were planted in late spring.
  2. Hot days and lack of water can affect the formation of the root system of a young seedling.
  3. For the improvement of the root system of crops of any age. Often, during a drought, larvae of parasitic insects lay in the root area, which develop only in dry soil.
  4. To maintain soil moisture. For example, sandy soils dry up to a depth of 50 cm, which negatively affects the root system.

Even drought is not a reason for "flooding" of the soil on which trees grow. When watering in the summer, you must follow the established norms.

How often should fruit trees be watered in the garden?

Irrigation of trees depends on their variety. For example, stone fruits are more moisture-loving than pome ones. It is also worth assessing the general level of soil moisture, the condition of the trees, their monthly need for water.

Watering rules depending on the type of soil are as follows:

  • chernozem and clay soils require watering 1-2 times a month;
  • the norm for sandy soils is 2-4 times per month;
  • sandy soils are watered 1-3 times a month.

It is also worth considering the stable air temperature in the summer. If the temperature exceeds +25-+30 degrees, then young seedlings planted in late spring should be watered 1-2 times a week.

How to determine the need of trees for water?

The lack of water in the summer affects the condition of the tree and the soil near it.

You can determine the need for watering by the following signs:

  • Leaves lose their stable and bright color. If watering has not been carried out for a long time, yellow spots form on the surface of the foliage.
  • The tree is starting to shed some of its leaves.
  • In fruit crops, the state of the fruit changes greatly. They stop gaining juiciness, grow smaller, rot faster, fall off.

Also, the need is determined by the condition of the soil. This is done as follows:

  1. At a distance of 30-50 cm from the tree, it is necessary to dig a small hole, 25-30 cm deep.
  2. Take the soil from the hole in your palm and squeeze it strongly.
  • If a stable ball has formed after compaction, then the soil is saturated with water.
  • If the lump is partially or completely crumbled, this indicates a high need for water.
  • You can also check the humidity by getting the skin of your palm wet. The lack of moisture indicates a need for water.

Watering rates for fruit trees

Compliance with watering rates for individual trees and shrubs is very important. This contributes to their proper and efficient growth.

The rates for some garden trees are described in the table below:

The rate of watering is highly dependent on the age of the trees. Consider the following:

  • For young seedlings, the norm is 30-50 liters, depending on the air temperature.
  • Trees 3-5 years old consume up to 80 liters.
  • A tree between 8 and 10 years old needs about 150 hp.
  • Crops that are over 15 years old require a watering rate based on 1 m2 of their trunk circumference.

When watering in accordance with the norm, it is important to take into account the condition of the soil itself and its type.

Methods for watering fruit trees in the garden

Gardeners use several methods to irrigate their plots in the summer, taking into account the number of trees and their need for moisture.

Surface

The most common type of irrigation among gardeners.

It is performed as follows:

  1. First, you need to create earthen mounds around the tree trunk.
  2. The diameter of such a circle should be approximately equal to the width of the crown of the plant. Depth varies within 30 cm.
  3. A watering hose must be lowered into each circle.
  4. Apply water and keep the circle full. At the same time, the norm of water consumption should be observed. It is calculated in advance.
  5. Calculating the rate is very simple. It is enough to draw 1 liter of water from the hose into the container and note the filling time. Make a calculation from this time. For example, 1 liter is filled in 30 seconds, so the filling rate is 2 liters per minute.

Surface watering of several trees can be facilitated by using furrows. A furrow is connected to each tree, forming a single irrigation system. A watering hose is lowered to the beginning of the furrow and water is supplied.

Sprinkler

The sprinkler method is suitable for large gardens. For such irrigation, you will need special irrigation sprinklers.

Watering is carried out as follows:

  • Sprinklers are installed at several points on the site, taking into account their irrigation radius;
  • all devices are connected into a single system using pipes or hoses;
  • Complete system with pump;
  • for irrigation, the water supply must be turned on.

Sprinkler irrigation also includes a timer. The system will automatically turn on irrigation and turn it off at a predetermined time, which is calculated from the rate of consumption by trees.

Subsurface irrigation

This irrigation method involves laying pipes or hoses under the ground, directly to the root system of each tree:

  • Water is supplied through special emitters, with a moisture rate already calculated.
  • After laying all communications, it is enough to supply water to the system.

Subsoil irrigation is most effective in summer. Its advantage is that water is supplied only to the roots, which significantly affects its consumption.

How should fruit trees be watered depending on the weather?

The frequency of watering in the summer is influenced by several factors that should also be taken into account:

  1. During periods of drought at temperatures up to + 30, the frequency of irrigation is 1-2 times a week.
  2. If the temperature is above 30 degrees, it is worth watering 2-4 times a week.
  3. On cloudy days, water only when the soil is completely dry.
  4. On rainy days, with high humidity, watering is carried out once a month.

Strong hot winds are also taken into account. At such moments, it is not recommended to water young seedlings, crowns and tree trunks.

How to water spring planting trees?

Spring is the period when the soil is saturated with moisture. Seedlings planted in spring are already getting resistance, their root system is more developed.

In summer, only maintenance of this condition is required to continue the growth of a young tree:

  • In summer, seedlings need to be watered 1-2 times a week.
  • In dry months, at temperatures above +30, the frequency is reduced to 3-4 times a week.
  • Watering is best in the early morning and late evening.

Proper watering of trees in summer is the key to effective and healthy growth. Fruit-bearing trees are especially dependent on the frequency and quality of irrigation. Compliance with the described norms will help to properly irrigate and maintain the vital activity of trees.

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Myrtle. Basic rules of care, watering. Belezni.

Is common myrtle so ordinary?

Under the simple name - common myrtle or Myrtus communis, lies an amazing plant that can safely be called the most unusual.

Let's delve into history...

Common myrtle was imported from North Africa and the countries of the Mediterranean basin. This plant belongs to the myrtle family and has a lot of advantages for which it is loved by beginners and floriculture professionals.

Hardwood evergreen deciduous tree grows up to 2 meters tall in its homeland and more like a shrub. The ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians used low myrtle trees as green spaces, and used its leaves in medicine and cooking.

Travelers and warriors took sprigs of myrtle with them, believing that they would give strength in a distant journey. A noble wine was prepared from the berries and was considered an "elixir of health and longevity." Already in ancient times, women knew the healing power of water infused with myrtle leaves. Such a decoction gave the skin freshness and prolonged youth. The Greeks met their winners with evergreen branches of myrtle, glorifying their courage and bravery on the battlefield.

What now?

Since ancient times, myrtle groves have been considered a source of health. Even after hundreds of years, modern doctors are not afraid to advise their patients to take long walks along the myrtle alleys.

People prone to allergies will be curious to know that myrtle does not cause any painful reactions even during the flowering period.

Modern cosmetology and medicine uses the tree as a source of essential oil. And the dried leaves of the plant give a piquant taste to any culinary dishes.

In many countries, it is customary to give myrtle for weddings. A small flowering tree or a wreath with beautiful white flowers is given to the newlyweds as a symbol of family well-being and the purity of the bride.

As a house plant, common myrtle purifies the air in the whole apartment and brings aesthetic pleasure to family members.

Common myrtle. Characteristics and description

Leathery hard myrtle leaves are oval in shape and tightly adjoin short petioles. There are varieties with large (up to 4 cm) and small (up to 1 cm) leaves. At the moment, varieties with variegated leaf color are artificially bred - white, creamy yellow and with multi-colored stains. On the leaves of the myrtle, you can see small bright dots. These are numerous glands that are rich in essential oils. If you rub the leaf in your hand, you can feel the fragrant aroma.

For the first time, myrtle begins to bloom 2-3 years after planting, with small (about 1 cm) white or cream flowers. After flowering, the plant produces dark blue edible berries.

Mirt kommunis. Myrtle care

  • Pruning

Myrtle branches begin to grow actively from a very early age, so they begin to form its appearance in advance. This malleable plant is easy enough to shape, even without special skills. By pruning young shoots and branches, you can achieve a variety of crown shapes: from a small tree with dense foliage to an elegant pyramid. Patient gardeners are able to create real sculptures from the branches and leaves of myrtle.

Common myrtle is perfect for fans of oriental bonsai art. Modeling the crown of a tree, you can achieve the classic form of hokidachi (panicle).

Prune myrtle best after flowering or during transplanting. The optimal time is the end of March - the beginning of April. Thanks to caring care, the tree can be given any intricate shape.

  • Transplant

Young myrtle is transplanted once a year, each time changing the pot to a larger one. A mixture of peat, sand, humus and grain soil is suitable for transplanting. Older plants do not require such constant care. Transplantation is carried out once every 4 years. In this case, only the upper and lower layers of the earth are replaced, and new drainage is filled up. Pebbles, expanded clay, small fragments of pottery and charcoal are used as drainage.

By the way, experienced florists do not recommend using Styrofoam instead of a drainage substrate. Under the influence of earth and water, the foam begins to expand rapidly and occupies all the free space. But it is these voids in the drainage substrate that help the soil breathe.

  • Moisturizing. Feeding Sunlight

All types of myrtle like constant uniform watering. The plant is watered with infused tap water and waited for about half an hour. Then the excess water is drained from the pan.

If your task is to grow a tall planter tree, then watering should be alternated with feeding. Every fourth watering, fertilize the plant with an all-purpose food or mullein extract diluted 1:20. Feeding is not carried out from autumn to spring.

In the warm season, myrtle is best placed in fresh air. But remember that open sunlight will dry out the soil and leaves of the plant. Without constant watering in hot weather, myrtle can die.

Keeping myrtle in winter

In winter, myrtle requires more care. Constant twilight and dry air in the apartment deplete the plant. The leaves fall off, and the shoots stretch out. Myrtle tolerates winter well on insulated loggias, where the temperature ranges from +3 to +10. In winter, the main thing is not to overdo it with watering, but do not forget to spray the plant about once a week.

Reproduction of myrtle at home

Common myrtle can be propagated in two ways: by seeds, which, by the way, germinate for quite a long time, and by cuttings. Small (5-6 cm), non-lignified cuttings, quickly take root in spring under glass or a bag. Semi-lignified shoots, up to 12 cm high, are planted at the end of summer in coarse sand mixed with peat (proportions: 1: 1). After the cutting is planted, it is watered with a weak solution of potassium permanganate. The soil around must be compacted. The plant is hidden in a greenhouse or under a transparent bag. Periodically, the container with sprouts must be ventilated. Every 2-3 days, remove the bag and leave the plant to "breathe" for 5 minutes. The soil in which the cutting grows should not be too dry, but excessive watering can lead to acidification.

Cuttings can also be given a second life in water. Half a tablet of black coal is added to boiled water and the branches are kept in it until the first roots appear. Then the plant is transplanted into light soil and left for a couple of weeks under a plastic bag.

By the way, experienced flower growers say that the cuttings give roots faster if you keep the branches in a bright, cool place. The best time to propagate the plant in this way is mid-spring and late summer.

A few words about care:

  • When planting or transplanting common myrtle, the roots are not buried deep in the ground. If the root neck is tightly covered with earth, it can simply rot.
  • In order for myrtle to bloom with numerous lush flowers, do not forget to give it the brightest place in the house.
  • Myrtle will flower faster if grown in a deep, small pot.
  • Spray weekly myrtle in winter and summer.
  • Calcium-free fertilizers are used to feed the plants.

A reminder for those who want to grow a large myrtle tree: