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THE CREPE MYRTLE

Summer is almost here and that means that crepe myrtles are almost in full bloom!  Crepe myrtles are ubiquitous in yards across the south and are known for their vibrant color and ability to ensure hot, humid weather.  They are often referred to as the “lilac of the south.”

Crepe myrtles, known as the “lilac of the south” come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.

ATTRIBUTES

Crepe myrtles can be grown as either a shrub or small tree and are often used in groupings to create privacy hedges.  Their average height is between 15 and 25 feet and they can grow fast – up to 2 feet in 1 year!  They bloom in early to midsummer and colors include ranges of white, lavender, purple, pink, magenta, and red.  Dark green foliage turns red-orange in the fall and falls off in the winter exposing beautiful cinnamon bark.  A relatively new series, Black Diamonds, provides unique black foliage that lasts until the first frost, though they do tend to be smaller in both height and weight than traditional crepe myrtles.  Crepe myrtles are low-maintenance and once established, are easily able to survive periods of drought.

The Black Diamond, a new series of crepe myrtles, produces black foliage that lasts until the first frost.

BARK SHEDDING

Some people may think that bark shedding is a sign of disease and may attempt to treat it.  However, bark peeling or shedding is normal on crepe myrtles and occurs after the tree has reached full maturity.  If you notice peeling on a crepe myrtle, leave it alone. The resulting coloration is stunning and will reveal a range of colors, from cream, warm beige, cinnamon, and bright red.

Bark peeling is normal on crepe myrtles and reveals an array of colors.

PLANTING

When planting a new crepe myrtle, you should dig a hole approximately twice the size of the root ball.  It should be planted in a location where it will receive full sun, at least 6 hours per day, and at the same depth that it was in the nursery pot.  A few inches of mulch can be applied around the base of the crepe myrtle and watering should be done regularly for at least several months.  Though they can grow in a wide range of soil, it is important to ensure adequate drainage to prevent root rot.

INSECTS AND DISEASES

Like all shrubs and trees, the crepe myrtles are susceptible to certain insects and diseases.  The most common issue with crepe myrtles is powdery mildew caused by hot, humid days followed by cool, dewy nights. Crepe myrtles are also known to suffer from leaf spot, dark brown spots on the leaves that causes them to turn yellow and fall off.  Both powdery mildew and leaf spot can be treated with a fungicide.  Sooty mold, caused by aphid excretions, are also known to be problematic and can be treated with an insecticide.

PRUNING

Contact TREES BY JAKE, a Tulsa tree service with extensive experience in pruning decorative and ornamental shrubs and trees.  As a Certified Arborist, Jake is fully knowledgeable in the proper way to prune a crepe myrtle without affecting blooming. Contact us today at 918-500-9955 and check us out on social media on Facebook, InstagramTwitter!