How to care for crepe myrtles and Forsythia
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 email@example.com.