Q: I just found you on SouthernLiving.com (enjoyed you in the magazine) & was reading the crepe myrtle info. We cut an older mature plant down because it was too close to a new driveway :-( but I now have suckers coming up further in the yard. Last year I placed a tomato cage around it so it wouldn’t get mowed down. I now need to know how to train it into a natural looking plant from the ground up. Thank you very much in advance.
A: Linda, you are in luck, because you have directed your question to the all-seeing, all-knowing, former stunt double for George Clooney — the Grumpy Gardener. What you desire can be accomplished in just a few easy steps.
1. Select 3 to 5 of the most vigorous suckers to be the new main trunks. They should be well-spaced and not rub against one another.
2. Cut the remaining suckers to the ground.
3. As the suckers grow taller, keep removing their lower twigs and branches, until you’ve removed all side shoots up to a height of 4 feet.
4. From that point on, remove only branches that grow inward towards the center of the plant, suckers from around the base, or wayward branches that cause problems. Don’t cut your crepe myrtle down to stumps every winter just because the lunkhead next door does. His looks ugly now. Yours will look beautiful.
Need answers? E-mail your garden questions to GrumpyGardenerSL@gmail.com.