Ask a Question forum: Crepe myrtle

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Lucedale, MS
rmoffat5071
Mar 27, 2018 1:04 PM CST
We recently bought our house and need to do some clean up in the yard. There are 2 crepe-myrtle trees tucked away that I would like to move out into an open spot so they can actually grow. My main question is, how should these be pruned to encourage them to grow like "normal"? They seem to be just a straight trunk with limbs growing out and when I think of crepe-myrtle, they look nothing like this. I'm new to this whole gardening thing so please be detailed and specific with any advice. Thanks!


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Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Mar 27, 2018 1:56 PM CST
Hi and welcome to NGA!

Your Crepe myrtle is definitely desperate for light but thankfully Crepe myrtle is tough and hard to kill.

Here is what I'd do (but others may have a different method on the best way to do this) ...

First of all realize that this year will be only a growing season. The next thing you want to do is take a shovel and make a ring around the trunk of the trees about a foot away from the trunk all around - don't dig under, just around. Now leave it alone for a few weeks and see how they react to having their roots chopped up. If after a week they don't look stressed, (If they do looked stressed, just leave them alone until they recover then dig them up and move.) cut the main trunk to about 3 feet high, dig it up the rest of the way and plant it in its new location making the new hole a half size bigger than the root ball. Put some good potting mix in the bottom of the hole and place the plant on top making the top of the root ball almost even with the top of the hole and add the potting mix around it and on top then tamp down to secure the plant.

In a few weeks you should see new growth coming up from the roots and hopefully some new growth on the main trunk. If it looks like good growth on the main trunk, then cut all the new shoots coming from the roots. If the main trunk is not sprouting then cut it back to about a foot and choose the biggest and healthiest shoot you see and cut all the rest. If you're ok with a bush then let the sprouts grow.

Since it's a new house and garden, the described method above is the safest and best way to move established plants.

I also wanted to say that being a new garden, don't make any major changes for at least a year until you see what the light does and what's in there. There may be some dormant hidden gems you'll want to keep and or move.
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. "

Abraham Lincoln
[Last edited by Xeramtheum - Mar 27, 2018 1:57 PM (+)]
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Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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BigBill
Mar 27, 2018 2:30 PM CST
Good advice. They can really take a severe pruning and be better for it!
If it was me I would root prune and trim at the same time. Transplant to its new location in 1-2 weeks. They will need extra water until they re-establish. But don't drown them either.
Gardeners at parks, roadsides, around commercial buildings prune them quite severely and swear that they flower better that way.
If they are slender stemmed and apt to be bent by the breezes you could stake them until the fall after they have established themselves in the new spot.
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DaisyI
Mar 27, 2018 3:18 PM CST
What is the large tree just to the left of these little trees? If its a Crepe Myrtle also, these little ones could be root suckers. Crepe Myrtles are good at sucking off any damaged root.
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Lucedale, MS
rmoffat5071
Mar 27, 2018 3:35 PM CST
There's a large tree/ bush in front. I'm not sure what it's called but I know it's not crepe myrtle. Behind it there are the 2 trees in question. One is as tall as the house but it's just a straight trunk with very small limbs coming off of it all the way up to the top. About 3 feet away is a smaller one that's maybe 6 feet tall. Again, it's a single, skinny looking trunk that goes straight up with little limbs coming off here and there. There's no structure or fullness to them at all. I imagine it's possible the smaller one is a root sucker. Can it be moved or should it just be cut down all together.
Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
Orchid Nut!
Region: United States of America Echinacea Hostas Clematis Region: Michigan Adeniums
Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Orchids Cat Lover Birds Dahlias
BigBill
Mar 27, 2018 3:59 PM CST
I think that one of those skinny saplings might be a beech tree. Leaves have saw tooth edges.
"Our children are the messages we send to a time that we will never see."

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