Ask a Question forum: Crepe myrtle

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Lucedale, MS
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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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 Universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. It speaks in the language of hope; It speaks in the language of trust; It speaks in the language of strength, and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always, it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us, And the voice of our inheritors, waiting to be born. It is the small, still voice that says: We are one. No matter the blood; No matter the skin; No matter the world; No matter the star; We are one. No matter the pain; No matter the darkness; No matter the loss; No matter the fear; We are one. Here, gathered together in common cause. we agree to recognize this singular truth, and this singular rule: That we must be kind to one another, because each voice enriches us and ennobles us, and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the Universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are one."

[Last edited by Xeramtheum - Mar 27, 2018 1:57 PM (+)]
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Name: Bill
Livonia, Michigan (Zone 6a)
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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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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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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.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Lucedale, MS
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 Judge
Region: United States of America Echinacea Hostas Region: Michigan Butterflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Orchids Cat Lover Birds Dahlias
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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