Crepe Myrtles

Written By Danny Lipford

Crape myrtle in bloom
Variety of Colors

About Crape Myrtles

With literally hundreds of sizes and colors available, crape (or crepe) myrtles are a terrific, low-maintenance choice for prolific blooms during hot, humid summers. Nowadays, many varieties are hybrids that maximize the colorful blooms of the common crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and/or the distinctive bark, cold hardiness, and disease-resistance of the Japanese crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia faurei).

Crape myrtles bloom in midsummer, with colors including white, lavender, purple, pink, magenta, and red. After blooming, they develop distinctive seed heads, then the leaves tend to fall toward the end of autumn, leaving the colorful, exfoliating bark for the winter.

Peeling bark on crape myrtle trunk
Exfoliating bark on crape myrtle.

Selecting Crape Myrtles

Crape Myrtles truly come in every possible size and shape, from knee-high shrubby dwarf plants to towering tree forms, so it is possible to choose a variety that exactly fits your purpose. When choosing crape myrtles for your yard, there are several factors to consider including:

  • Height
  • Natural shape (shrub vs. tree)
  • Flower color
  • Amount of bark exfoliation
  • Disease resistance

Planting Crape Myrtles

Ideally, crape myrtles should be planted in cool weather when they’re dormant, here’s how to go about it:

  • Dig Hole: Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball on the crape myrtle.
  • Soil amendments: It’s usually not necessary to amend the soil when planting crape myrtles, unless you’re amending the entire planting bed, since pockets of high-nutrient soil can prevent the roots from branching out properly.
  • Planting Depth: Plant your crape myrtle at the same depth it was in the nursery pot, and backfill with loosened soil.
  • Mulch: Apply 3″- 5″ of mulcharound the base of your crape myrtle.
  • Watering: Water your newly planted crape myrtle thoroughly after planting. Water newly planted crape myrtles at least once a week if dormant and in cool weather, and up to five times a week if planted during hot weather or in very sandy soil. Water new plants regularly for about two months, and water during drought for better blooms and healthier plants.
Blooming crape myrtle

Growing Crape Myrtles

Crape myrtles can be grown in much of the U.S., except colder climates in the north. Here’s what you need to know to grow crape myrtles in your yard:

  • Climate: Crape myrtles can be grown in hardiness zones 6-10, although in zone 6 they’re likely to die back to the ground in winter.
  • Water: Crape myrtles like humid climates. Once established, they can tolerate quite a bit of drought.
  • Light: Crape myrtles flower best in full sun (at least six hours per day).
  • Soil: Crape myrtles do well in most any kind of soil, as long as it’s well-drained. The ideal soil pH is neutral to slightly acidic.
  • Fertilizer: Crape myrtles benefit from annual feeding with a general-purpose or high-nitrogen fertilizer, in early spring as soon as you see leaves. If you want to fertilize twice, do the second application about two months later. Slow-release fertilizer can help prevent rapid sucker growth that is vulnerable to diseases and insects. Take advantage of the toughness of these plants – too much fertilization can actually result in excessive leaf growth and fewer blooms!
Crape myrtle in bloom
Crape myrtle in bloom!

Pruning Crape Myrtles

Depending on the variety, crape myrtles can have different shapes and sizes. The miniature, or dwarf, varieties are generally bred to have lots of branches, and they tend to look shrublike and shouldn’t need pruning unless they are growing unevenly.

Medium and large varieties tend to develop sucker growth, or small shoots at the base of the trunk. These may be pruned off if desired, and the entire plant may be pruned according to your tastes. For varieties that bloom before mid-July, deadheading can often result in a second blooming.

  • When to Prune: Crape myrtles bloom on this year’s new growth (sometimes called “new wood”), so prune during late winter before growth starts. Fall pruning, especially in warm climates, can result in a quick growth response that prevents dormancy and makes winter freezes potentially deadly.
  • How to Prune: There are two schools of thought, and quite a bit of debate, about larger pruning jobs. Some gardeners like to lop off all stems at a uniform height each year, leaving branch stubs in the winter that flush out into a ball of growth in the spring. This is useful if you want a uniform border and height control, but it can result in bunchy growth and knobby stems that may be more susceptible to aphids and disease. Other gardeners decry this method as “crape murder” and adopt a less aggressive approach that conforms more to the natural size and shape of the plant. Most growers and researchers agree that only light pruning is necessary for plenty of blooms, so the choice is really yours.

To achieve a graceful tree shape that shows off the lovely bark, first remove all but 3-5 strong trunks. Then remove lateral branches on the bottom half of the tree. Make “heading back” cuts on long, leggy limbs to encourage branching. Don’t over prune in the beginning – make the basic cuts and then allow the plant to grow, and continue shaping over time.

The best decision about the size of your crape myrtle is made when you buy it. Buy the right variety to fit the space! If you buy a 15′ variety and try to keep it 7′ tall, you will prune yourself silly. Instead, buy a 7′ variety, and you will find yourself with an incredibly low-maintenance plant.

Pests and Diseases for Crape Myrtles

Crepe myrtles are susceptible to several diseases and pests, including:

  • Powdery Mildew: The most common scourge of crape myrtles is powdery mildew – particularly during hot, humid days followed by cool, dewy nights. Treat with a general fungicide.
  • Sooty Mold: This is caused by the excretions of pests such as aphids. Treat with the appropriate insecticide.
  • Leaf Spot: Another common problem is leaf spot (Cercospora lythracearum), which resembles dark brown spots on the leaves that then turn yellow and fall off. Treat with a general fungicide.
  • Root Rot: Crape myrtles can also be affected by root rot, caused by poorly-draining soil.

For more information and instructions please contact Deltona Garden Club

Dukat Dill

Inga’s Creations

Dukat dill is both gorgeous, and huge! It stands about 3 to 4 feet tall, and it is growing a fireworks of flower heads.

Dill pairs absolutely excellent with salmon or other seafood dishes. You can use the seeds, flowers, or fern like leafs in vinaigrette, pickles, and you can add it to tzaziki sauce, egg salad and salad dressings as well.

If you pick the flower heads that form, you can continue to harvest the leafs for savory dishes! You can even dry bundles of dill leafs so you can stick the dill in spice jars.

This herb is native to the Mediterranean and also can be found as a native in Asia.

Dill does not transplant well. Sow seeds directly into the ground where the plants are going to grow or sow them in a large pot. Begin sowing seeds after the danger of…

View original post 199 more words

When you Leave your Squash One More Day…

Inga’s Creations

Well… if you do, you get a one pound whopper! Wow!

Look at the smaller ones I picked before compared to that ginormous whopper! Mary from Mary’s Heirloom Seeds has some amazing varieties of squashes and as you can see her seeds produce miracles!

Compare this with the smaller ones I picked

View original post

How to Pollinate Your Tomato Plants With a Tuning Fork

How to Pollinate Your Tomato Plants With a Tuning Fork
— Read on

Tassel Flower

Emilia, also known as Tassel Flower, is a genus of more than 100 species in the family Asteraceae, distributed mainly in tropical regions of the Old World.

Tassel Flower

Emilia has bright, tassel-like flowers appearing on its slender stems in summer and early fall. The flowers come in shades of purple, red and orange and are great for container gardens and fresh cut flower arrangements.

Interesting facts about Emilia

Lilac Tassel Flower (Emilia sonchifolia)

Emilia sonchifolia, also known as Lilac Tassel Flower, is one of the “Ten Sacred Flowers” of Kerala State in India, commonly known as Dasapushpam.

These herbs are culturally and medicinally significant to the people of Kerala in India. Dasapushpam constitute a group of ten auspicious herbs used as an ayurvedic medicine for curing chronic diseases.

Women of Kerala wear these flowers in their hair on the day of Thiruvathira and perform Thiruvathirakkali, a dance form native to Kerala. It is said that wearing these flowers

benefit their health. According to Ayurveda, Emilia sonchifolia is used for the treatment of Kapha and Vata imbalances and is effective in treating fever, tonsillitis, conjunctivitis, worm infections and allergy.

Is Emilia Invasive?

Some species may be invasive where soil and climate are suitable. They produce large amounts of wind-dispersed seeds that may be carried long distances.
Emilia fosbergii has been listed as a weed in Columbia, Costa Rica, Mexico and many Pacific islands.

Benefits and Uses

The plant has been used for food and medicinal purposes by various communities.
It has been used as a cure for various ailments, such as wound healing, sore throat, high blood pressure and conjunctivitis.

It has also been used for upset stomach and as an antidiarrheal medicine.
The scientific research shows that this plant could be useful in the management of eye diseases.
The plant is also edible, but it’s not everyone’s favorite. The leaves are eaten in salads and soups.

Coral Bean

Driving around Deltona the Coral Bean wildflower is blooming and can be seen growing wild in and around the undisturbed areas.

Coral Bean – Spring Wildflower- Deltona Florida
Photo Anna Sarich

Coral bean is a native plant that can add interest to the landscape from spring until fall.

Red tubular flowers grow on tall stalks in the spring, drawing hummingbirds and butterflies. In the fall, as the rest of the summer garden starts to fade, coral bean’s seed pods begin to mature and the show begins. What once looked a bit like English pea pods turn dark, almost black, and split open to reveal shiny, scarlet red seeds nestled inside. They’re very pretty—and very poisonous, so be sure to keep them away from kids and pets.

In North and Central Florida coral bean grows as a large perennial, reaching 6 feet tall before it freezes to the ground in winter. In South Florida it grows as a large deciduous shrub or small tree.

This Florida-Friendly plant is a great choice for the back of a mixed borders. While coral bean is a very attractive plant when in flower, it can appear somewhat sparse and ragged the rest of the year. 

Coral bean plant in flower

Excellent for a natural landscape, it grows in a wide range of soil, but does best in fertile, well-drained, sandy soil. It flowers best in full sun or light shade.

Scientific Name(s): Erythrina herbacea
Abundance: uncommon
What: flowers & young leaves
How: cooked flowers and leaves; tea from young leaves
Where: open fields and woodland clearings with sandy soil
When: spring
Nutritional Value: antioxidants
Dangers: plant must be cooked to remove toxins, do NOT eat the seeds or older, mature leaves.

A young Coral Bean flowering in the spring woods.

Coral Bean

Look around I disturbed Sandy areas in Deltona and most of the southern states. although edible and rich in antioxidants, do not eat without proper preparation.

Safe Roundup Alternatives | Killing Weeds Without Glyphosate

Interest in alternatives to Roundup has grown after it was found to potentially cause cancer. Learn more about safe weed-killing alternatives to glyphosate.
— Read on

%d bloggers like this: