The crape myrtle tree is great for Florida’s climate throughout north, central, and southern regions. Often used in landscapes as a beautiful tree with lots of color when blooming. Proper crape myrtle tree care is needed for good health and growth. Flowering begins in June continues through the summer on into early fall.
Clusters of buds on the tips of branches produce hundreds of 1-2 inch blooming flowers. Crape myrtle tree types consist of the colors, red, white, lavender or pink, and purple. Leaves are 1-4 inches long and turn red in spring, dark green in summer. In northern Florida tree leaves will turn yellow, orange, red in the fall.
The time to plant container-grown crape myrtle trees is during early summer when in active growth. Balled or burlapped crape myrtles should be planted while dormant. Place in full sun for they do poorly in shaded areas. Plant in well-drained soil for they don’t like soil that stays wet and soggy. Trees need good air circulation to avoid having problems. Crape myrtle trees have a low salt tolerance level, so do not plant close to sea walls or seaside locations.
Watering Crape Myrtles
A newly planted tree needs to be watered regularly for the first three weeks, for good root establishment. When established watering every two weeks is sufficient for crape myrtle tree care. When fully mature crape myrtle trees are drought tolerant and can go without watering for a month, if there is no rainfall or problems with irrigation.
Fertilizer Crape Myrtle Tree Care
Crape myrtle trees when mature do not need to be fertilized very often. When placed in the middle of lawns they receive nutrients from lawn fertilization. Mature trees in other locations need one application a year in spring. However, newly planted trees require fertilization in the beginning up to three times the first year. Early crape myrtle tree care will help stimulate growth for young trees.
Crape Myrtle Tree Care For Pests and Problems
Primary pests are powdery mildew and the aphid insect which produces “Black Sooty Mold”. A program of spraying a systemic pesticide and fungicide for crape myrtle tree care can help control problems. Regular inspections will detect any problems early, to avoid spreading. Sprays of insecticidal soaps and horticultural oil will stop aphids on contact.
Aphid insects are pale yellow in color found underneath the leaves and are attracted to new growth. Infested leaves will become distorted and the new growth is stunted. Aphids suck the juices out of stems, and eventually can severely injure the tree. Aphids reproduce quickly and will spread to other trees close by, without immediate insecticidal crape myrtle tree care.
Aphids secrete droplets containing a sugary solution called ” Honey Dew “, which produces ” Black Sooty Mold ” on leaves and stems. It interferes with the leaves from getting sunlight hindering photosynthesis.
Powdery mildew is caused by a fungus and is seen first on new shoots. Then it spreads to the leaves, stems, and flowers. They will also become distorted and stunted from this problem. When severe leaves will drop and buds fail to open. Trees planted in shade and in locations with poor air circulation will have problems with powdery mildew. Also continuous wetting of leaves from irrigation staying wet and do not dry from sun can cause it to occur.
The crape myrtle tree is one of the most common parts of a Florida landscape. Trees can be seen along our roads, highways, and parks. During the summer with loads of blooming colorful flowers, they are attractive and eye-catching. With good crape myrtle tree care, they will offer a beautiful setting for years.
Author, Kurt Kmetz