The Crape Myrtle is wildly popular all across the South thanks to its voluminous blossoms and distinctive peeling bark, but there is some misinformation swirling around about proper care for these trees. Particularly when it comes to pruning, some gardeners go a little overboard and end up doing more harm than good.
If you’d like to grow these lovely Southern belles at home, take a look at this guide to caring for Crape Myrtles in Fort Lauderdale so you can maximize the number of blooms and avoid overdoing it with the pruning shears.
The Benefits Of Planting Crape Myrtle At Home
Planting trees in our yards is a simple way to increase property value and add some beauty to the landscape. The Crape Myrtle is especially beautiful, as it’s dramatic flowers, which come in shades of red, pink, purple or white, always seem to draw admirers.
This tree is perfectly suited to our warm, coastal climate. If you’ve struggled in the past with trees and shrubs developing mildew from our humid air, this tree is a fantastic option, because there are many varieties that are resistant to mildew. It’s also quite tolerant of a range of soils—even sandy, rocky soils. So long as it isn’t soggy or clay-heavy, it should grow just fine.
If you’re wanting to start planting some new trees right away, you’re in luck! Crape Myrtles can be planted now during the warmer summer months, which many other trees can’t quite handle. Find a spot that gets plenty of sunshine, and give your tree lots of water for the first few months after planting to help the roots develop.
Crape Myrtle Pruning
At some point over the years, someone out there started encouraging gardeners to cut their Crape Myrtle trees down to near-stumps when pruning. Trust us, this will not help your tree! Many trees have needlessly suffered from being overpruned, and the results aren’t what you might be hoping for. Over-pruning tends to result in fewer blossoms, and an awkward shape with unsightly suckers that shoot out from the base.
While you may be used to pruning many of your trees and shrubs in autumn, this variety will benefit from having the extra bit of insulation during cooler, windy months.
Spring is the best time to prune your Crape Myrtles, and you really shouldn’t do much more than remove old and damaged branches and thin out the parts that are dense and lacking in air circulation. This helps to prevent mold from forming. You should also trim off any suckers or smaller stems jutting out from the lower base of the trunk.
Since this tree has many different sizes of branches, you may need to have more than one size of saw on hand. If you aren’t sure if you’ve got the correct tools to do the job, feel free to call us at our garden center and we can help get you on the right track.
What Is The Best Fertilizer For Crape Myrtles?
These trees are pretty greedy feeders, so if you want lots of flowers, you’re going to have to provide a steady supply of plant food. As far as formula goes, it’s pretty simple: a 10-10-10 formula in granules, slow-release, or water soluble formula should work just fine. For newly planted trees, fertilize once per month from early spring until late fall. The following year, once its first few leaves start to appear, apply a small amount every two weeks until late fall.
Our Favorite Crape Myrtle Varieties
There are so many breathtaking varieties of Crape Myrtle, in all different colors and sizes. Here are some of our favorites at Living Color:
- Tonto: A dwarf shrub with vivid magenta flowers, reaching 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide.
- Tuscarora: Coral-pink flowers adorn this moderately sized tree, reaching 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
- Sioux: This larger variety has candy pink blossoms and reaches up to 20 feet tall with a 13 foot span.
- Muskogee: Soft lilac purple petals bring a lovely pastel color palette to the landscape, reaching up to 20 feet tall and 15 feet across.
- Choctaw: Delicate pink clusters of flowers look like cotton candy on this larger variety reaching 18 feet tall and 20 feet across.
Want to add some Crape Myrtles into your yard? Now is the perfect time! Give us a call at Living Color, and we can arrange for curbside pickup or home delivery. If you’re new to planting trees, we’ve got plenty of insights to share, so don’t hesitate to ask us any questions!