How to care for crepe myr­tles and For­sythia

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART -

Hello: We have two crepe myr­tles planted two years ago. Do you have a rec­om­men­da­tion for care, es­pe­cially if they would ben­e­fit from fer­til­iz­ing? Thank you. Hello, Crepe myr­tle hap­pens to be one of my fa­vorite trees.

De­pend­ing on your de­sired out­come and look, car­ing for crepe myr­tles can be min­i­mal. If you want the tree to main­tain its nat­u­ral and na­tive look, very lit­tle care is nec­es­sary. Just sit back and let na­ture take its course.

If you de­sire a more man­i­cured look, prune the tree in late win­ter. Fe­bru­ary is the ideal time to ac­com­plish this task.

You may have heard the term “crepe mur­der,” which refers to the prac­tice that many home­own­ers and pro­fes­sion­als ex­er­cise. You most likely have seen the hand­i­work of many folks, whereby they chop at the tree un­til it al­most re­sem­bles a stump. While it is true that the crepe myr­tle blooms are on new growth, I be­lieve that lop­ping it down to al­most noth­ing is quite ex­treme, not to men­tion ugly.

I no longer have any crepe myr­tles, but when I did, the ex­tent of my prun­ing was to re­move any shoots (suck­ers) that pro­trude at the base of the tree.

You should fer­til­ize ev­ery few weeks dur­ing the spring and sum­mer months, en­sur­ing to wa­ter thor­oughly af­ter each ap­pli­ca­tion. I sug­gest us­ing a slow re­lease fer­til­izer of 10-10-10.

Stop fer­til­iz­ing in late fall, which will en­able the tree to pre­pare for win­ter dor­mancy. Hope this helps, Ken

*** Hi Ken, Can you please give me some ad­vice? The last sev­eral years my For­sythia bushes go from dor­mant to green, and they don’t bloom yel­low flow­ers. I did trim them last year but it didn’t help. Thank you, Pam Stepler *** Hi Ken, I have three big For­sythia bushes. The one in the front is beau­ti­ful and full of blooms. The one near the back of the yard has a few blos­soms. How­ever, the one on the side of the back yard is huge, but only has a dozen or so blooms. It has never been very color­ful, but this year it is pa­thetic look­ing. The hose that drains the wa­ter off the top of the pool cover is about 15 feet from it. Is it pos­si­ble that the wa­ter is mak­ing it too wet? Thanks, Linda Hi Pam and Linda, Forsythias in bloom are one of the most telling signs that spring is upon us. (Not so sure this year, though.) They act as a wake-up call that we sur­vived yet another win­ter. They are some­what mag­i­cal for many peo­ple who suf­fer from win­ter blues. Folks feel re­ju­ve­nated and ready to get out­side to soak up some much needed sun.

You men­tioned that you trimmed the Forsythias, but you did not say what time of year. When it comes to prun­ing, tim­ing is ex­tremely im­por­tant. The ideal time to prune Forsythias is in the spring af­ter they have fin­ished bloom­ing. If you prune in the late sum­mer and early fall, you will be re­duc­ing the quan­tity of blooms the fol­low­ing spring.

If your For­sythia is older and more es­tab­lished, and has not been pruned for years, it is wise to lop it down to al­most ground level. At first, the look will be a bit shocking, but rest as­sured once it reestab­lishes it­self, you will be glad you did.

If you have been reg­u­larly prun­ing it each year, proper tech­nique is key. Cut about a third of the old­est and thick­est branches down to ground level.

As far as ex­cess wa­ter is con­cerned, Forsythias pre­fer well-drained soil. They do not do well in sat­u­ra­tion. In ad­di­tion, the chem­i­cals from the pool wa­ter will change the pH level in the soil, most likely for the worse.

You will also want to en­sure that you fer­til­ize once in the spring, and once in the sum­mer. This is yet another tool in your belt to help re­store your Forsythias to the bril­liancy that so many folks look for each spring.

To re­cap, a com­bi­na­tion of im­proper prun­ing, lack of fer­til­iza­tion and ex­cess sat­u­ra­tion is most likely the cause of your For­sythia woes.

The Ce­cil County Mas­ter Gar­den­ers and I thank you for help­ing cre­ate a healthy en­vi­ron­ment that will last for years to come. Happy gar­den­ing, Ken Fis­cher Please sub­mit all your gar­den­ing ques­tions and avail­able pho­tos to kfis­cher­mas­ter gar­dener@ya­hoo.com.

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