Selecting the Right Location
Crape myrtles can withstand a wide range of soil types, but they do prefer a location that receives full sun. If you happen to choose a shadier location, the plant will tolerate the conditions, but the shadier the area, the fewer blooms it will produce.
If you are planting a row of crape myrtles to create a privacy screen, you’ll want to leave at least three feet from your property line or fence. Five feet is recommended for larger types, as you’ll want to ensure you have control over the growth and pruning of your tree. Spacing in between the plants is dependent upon how tall the tree is expected to grow. Leave anywhere from four to eight feet in between so each plant has space to grow. For additional density, consider planting two rows, off-setting the plants in an alternating fashion.
Water your crape myrtles at the base of the plant. Use a soaker hose or leave the water hose running at a low rate to completely soak the soil. For new plantings especially, make sure you water in not only up against the trunk, but soak the entire area around the tree.
Try to avoid watering the leaves or blooms themselves. The weight of the water can damage the blooms, and too much water on the foliage can promote the spread of disease.
As mentioned previously, crape myrtles are relatively low maintenance, but a little extra care can go a long way. Unless you’ve had an unfortunate pruning moment and topped your tree (we’ll talk about that next), your crape myrtle will naturally produce new growth. Each season flowers are produced on the new growth, but giving your plant a high-nitrogen fertilizer can help promote additional height as well as increase the amount of blooms and color for your crape myrtle.
Fertilizer benefits the tree most if you space it over three applications. Apply fertilizer once as the new growth begins, typically in early April. Apply again as blooms begin to appear, in early June. A third application can be made in early August to promote late summer growth and early fall blooms.
Pruning your crape myrtle is not essential for the plant to produce blooms, but you can help shape your shrub into more of a tree-form with appropriate pruning. Pruning should never be used to control the height or width of the plant.
“Topping” your tree is an unfortunate practice that attempts to limit the height of the plant by cutting off the branches from the top. This only harms the tree and produces the wrong results, as you will severely limit its blooming potential. If a plant is too large for the space in which it is planted, the best course of action is to move it.
Proper pruning of a crape myrtle can be done anytime in winter through late spring, and should focus on the smaller side branches that emerge from the larger trunks near the base. If you are training your shrub to grow into a tree form, additional pruning of smaller trunks can be made by cutting those smaller trunks off at the ground level. You’ll want to prune gradually or get the help of a horticulture expert.
Looking for additional expert advice on your lawn? Trust OneNeighbor to help you with your lawn care including setting up your fertilization and weed control schedule, lawn mowing or mulch installation. Our partners use high-quality products and are experts in the local area. See how OneNeighbor can help with your lawn care in Dallas/ Fort Worth, TX, Tampa Bay, FL and Houston, TX.