Beginner's Guide to Crepe Myrtles

Hannah Mitchell

February 1, 2017

If you were born and raised in the South, chances are you are familiar with Crepe Myrtles. Even

if you don't know it by name, you can spot one a mile away. These colorful plants can add beauty to any yard and are most often found in homes throughout the South East. Some may even claim they are the unofficial plant of the South.Just like any plant, Crepe Myrtles often require a little extra care. Whether you have a home with Crepe Myrtles, or you are interested in planting some—we have some helpful tips for you!

Picking Your Crepe Myrtle

When buying a Crepe Myrtle, do not buy on an impulse. As beautiful as they are, the Crepe Myrtle needs a good fit for it to flourish. Always make sure to research what size you are looking for and the right color.Their sizes differ and can range anywhere from 3-30 feet tall. By doing your research, you can know how tall they get and which height is right for you.  Remember, the taller the tree, the more time and energy you will spend taking care of it. You also have to make sure you buy a hearty variety of the Crepe Myrtle so it can withstand the cold nights we tend to see in North Central Florida every winter.

Planting Crepe Myrtles

The Crepe Myrtle can be planted solo or in a bunch. If you decide to plant a single tree, it can be your major focal point for your whole yard; however, planting a few together can add privacy to your home. Many people decide to line their driveways or sidewalks  for curb appeal.There are a few tips to remember when planting the Crepe Myrtle. First, make sure there is enough room for your Crepe Myrtle to grow. Buying a tree too large for your yard can cause it to crowd your home, walkways, and even power lines. A medium-sized Crepe Myrtle is ideal for small courtyards or in a home garden. The smaller trees also are known as dwarf selections look great in containers, or even can be planted in perennial beds. Second, ensure your Crepe Myrtle is planted in an area exposed to sunlight. The amount of flower production depends on how much light they receive each day.

When to Plant

The Crepe Myrtle should be planted in late fall to early spring. Many people make the mistake of buying them in the summer when they are in full bloom. If you do purchase these plants in the summer, be sure to water them more frequently than normal for  a smooth transition.No matter what time of year you buy a Crepe Myrtle, make sure the ground is well saturated before you plant. After your hole is dug and the plant is in, you'll want to lay down a solid layer of mulch to conserve a much moisture as possible and to keep the weeds out. Lastly, apply fertilizer and let the tree do the rest!

How to Maintain Crepe Myrtles

The first thing to remember with Crepe Myrtles is that they will grow; a lot! Throughout the year, you'll want to prune your tree to control overgrowth and to increase blooms. When your Crepe Myrtle has fully bloomed, they will shed their first flowers.Each flower contain small seedpods which add extra weight onto the limbs of the tree. This is why sometimes you will notice your tree sagging. In this scenario, it is recommended to use clippers to cut off the seedpods. After seedpods are cut, you could expect your Crepe Myrtle to bloom again with a second bloom.As long as the temperatures stay mild—like in Florida—you may get the chance to see a third or fourth bloom. This is why this tree is perfect for North Central Florida. If temperatures drop for an extended period of time, be sure your tree is cut, watered, and mulched to maintain its moisture.

Common Crepe Myrtle Problems

If you ever see some of the leaves of your Crepe Myrtle begin to roll-up or fold, check them for aphids. These small insects,   also known as plant lice, are some of the most destructive pests in warmer regions. These tiny insects leave a sugary excretion on the leaves that cause mold to develop which causes leaves to  look black. If the infestation spreads, it can cause the tree to avoid blooming.

If you do notice that aphids are taking over your leaves, you can spray insecticides that are specifically for aphids. You'll want to make sure to coat both sides of the leaf and do this as often as it is needed.Another thing to look at for is something called Powdery Mildew. This fungal disease can can affect many different plants in your yard, especially older Crepe Myrtles. Just like aphids, this disease can keep the tree from blooming. Luckily, Powder Mildew often doesn't cause permanent damage.

Learn More About Crepe Myrtles from LawnMore of Gainesville

The team at LawnMore in Gainesville, Florida are experts in Crepe Myrtles. For more than 20 years, our team has been planting and maintaining trees, yards, shrubs and more throughout the North Central Florida area. If you're looking to add curb appeal to your yard, consider a Crepe Myrtle. These trees are perfect for the Gainesville climate and are beautiful all year long. To learn more about these popular southern trees  contact LawnMore of Gainesville today!

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