Crazy For The Crepe Myrtle: Planting And Caring For This Appealing Tree

Landscape design is important for the look of your home, but it can also add value and energy efficiency. Many trees can be planted around your home to create shade, insulating your home's windows, doors, and outdoor air conditioning units to reduce cooling costs in the hot temperatures of summer. Thankfully, opting for the crepe myrtle is a smart option for enhancing your home with color, beauty, and energy efficiency.

The crepe myrtle's colorful blooms in the summer months will provide the shade necessary to reduce cooling costs during this warmer season. Using this guide, you can plant and maintain this appealing, shade-producing tree to ensure it remains a valuable addition to your landscape for years to come. 

Planting 101

Choose a sunny location on the eastern, western, or northwestern side of your home for your crepe myrtle. Planting the tree in one of these locations will produce sufficient shade from the hot summer sun, which can reduce cooling costs by up to 35 percent. Also, planting the tree around patios and decks can reduce your sun exposure while enjoying your outdoor living spaces.

Be sure to dig a hole that is a few times larger than the root ball of the tree. This ensures the roots have sufficient space to grow.

Place the root ball into the hole and fill the space with nutrient-rich soil. Pack the soil in securely and surround the base of the crepe myrtle with mulch or pine straw. Water the base of the tree generously immediately after planting, and continue watering daily to promote growth. 

After the tree is established, you will still need to keep the tree moist. In the warm and dry summer season, water the tree daily. In the cooler months of fall and spring, water every few days.  

Pruning the Crepe Myrtle

The unique, whimsical design of the crepe myrtle makes it a popular choice for homeowners, but periodic trimming of the branches is necessary to keep the tree's appealing design. Excessive pruning of the tree will prevent lush, colorful blooms in the spring and summer, so use the following tips to trim your crepe myrtle properly:

  • Winter is Best – The late part of the winter season is the best time to prune your crepe myrtle, since it is free of leaves, which allows you a better look at the branches.
  • Use the Right Tools – Make sure to sharpen pruning shears to cut off small branches and twigs. Use loppers to cut thicker branches and pole pruners to trim away thick, higher branches.
  • Do Not Cut Excessively – Trim away dead branches, but avoid cutting excessively. To ensure the tree remains in the classic crepe myrtle shape, prune off the bottom limbs first, making angled cuts. This will allow the new growth to develop properly. 

Controlling Pests

Aphids are common pests that can affect your crepe myrtle's health. Thankfully, you can prevent these pests from overly indulging in the sweet, sugary bark of your crepe myrtle tree.

To determine if you have an aphid issue, inspect the leaves and stems for signs of residue. Aphids will digest the sweet substance inside the tree bark before excreting the honeydew onto the leaves and stems. This excretion will appear as a silvery residue. If you believe your tree is infested with aphids, apply a liquid insecticide directly to the soil surrounding the tree. This will kill off an aphid infestation while preventing further pests from affecting your tree. 

The crepe myrtle adds color, texture, value, and energy efficiency to your home. Using this guide, you will understand how to plant and care for this beautiful and functional shade-producing tree.

For more information, talk with professional landscapers or go to websites for more tips and information.