Training Crepe Myrtles

April 14, 2008 | By | Comments (4)

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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.
-Linda

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.

COMMENTS

  1. Elva Creel

    I have June 2008 magazine I enjoy reading all the info. I have a small crepe myrtle it will grow very large, some day. now I have a Oleander, it’s short, but it will grow large also. should I plant the Oleander near our small crepe myrtle in our back yard? We have an acre of yard with a pool in the middle in front of our house in the back yard. I also have two pecan trees on each side of the back yard they are small also. We’re trying to block the winds. coming from south and north side. we face east our back faces west.
    will these two trees be good neighbors? How far apart should they be?
    Thank You, Steve Bender
    Elva

    May 23, 2008 at 4:26 pm
  2. Grumpy

    You have a nice big yard, so why crowd your plants? If you don’t already know, ask at the place you bought them how tall and wide they’re projected to grow. Then space them so they can develop naturally, won’t need much pruning, and won’t impede the growth of any other big plant.
    As for the pecans, I don’t know how effective they’ll be at blocking the wind, especially in winter when they’re leafless. Tall evergreens would do a better year-round job. If I were you, I’d think of the pecans as shade trees first. Their vase-shape makes them excellent for this. Planting them on the south and west sides of your home makes the most sense, because this will block the sun’s hottest rays in summer.
    Grumpy

    May 24, 2008 at 10:00 am
  3. Connie R.

    Hi,I just recently bought & planted 3 crepe myrtles in my front yard . One is looking a little bad ,not sure if it will make it ,don’t know what I did wrong,my question is what steps to take that will save it,it’s has dark red flowers when in bloom. I live in Louisiana . Please Help !

    May 25, 2012 at 11:47 am
  4. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Connie,
    It’s really hot now and that’s stressful for new plants. My best advice is to keep your new plant watered.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm