Summertime sensation: The Crape Myrtle
Crape Myrtles have put on their dazzling display lately. Crape Myrtles also are a flowering tree that needs care.
As Crape Myrtle flowers fade, they turn to small hard green seed pods. Carefully cut these off, re-fertilize and water the trees to extend their season of glory. Crape Myrtles may bloom again. Be careful not to cut off the new flower buds. They are probably forming just behind the old ones. For fertilization, use two cups of 10-10-10 per 100 square feet of bed space. Spread it evenly around the plant and water it in.
Crape Myrtles need pruning of the unwanted branches at the base of the plant.
These “water sprouts” or shoots make the plant look unsightly and are best removed as soon as possible. Also, remove any weeds and renew the mulch around the trees. We prefer to have two to four inch deep mulch around the tree out to the drip line.
Look out for pests. Aphids (aka plant lice) are 1/8 inch long and pearshaped.
They suck plant juice and give off a clear residue which sticks to plant leaves. This is called honey dew. A sooty mold grows on this residue. The mold can be scraped off with your fingernail.
Control aphids with regular sprays of insecticidal soap, malathion, cyfluthrin, bifenthrin or other labeled chemicals. Read and follow all label directions carefully. A new chemical may give season-long control of aphids and other sucking pests.
Bayer Tree and Shrub Insect Control contains imidacloprid and can be used as a drench around many ornamentals. Control can last up to a growing season. Always read and follow all label directions when using any pesticide.