Help! My crepe (crape) myrtle tree wants to be a bush!

reluctantartist(9, CA)June 14, 2009

Hi all,

newbie gardener here, needing some help. I had my back yard landscaped in early 2006, and they planted 3 crepe (crape) myrtle trees. Two of them were planted as mature trees and already had "tree" (upright) form. But the 3rd tree, a crepe myrtle "Acoma", was not available as a mature tree, so they planted a little tiny seedling and told me it would grow up to be a nice tree. I have left it alone for the last 3 years, and now I find that it is turning into a bush rather than a tree. It is currently 4' tall and 7' wide. I wanted an upright tree, not a bush, so what are my options at this point?

Should I have been pruning it to encourage upright growth all along, ever since it was planted? Is it too late to do so now? If not, how would I go about it now that the lower branches (what should be the trunk, where it goes into the ground) are all angled outwards (none are vertical)?

I have posted photos of the tree (bush?!) and its trunk area to Picasa, and a link to the photo album is here: Crepe (Crape) Myrtle Acoma, about 3 years old, June 2009

Thank you very much for any advice!

Best regards from California,

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reluctantartist(9, CA)

Following up my earlier posting, I just wanted to add that the other two crepe myrtles which were planted as mature trees and are nice and upright are not crepe myrtle 'Acoma'... they are crepe myrtle 'Sioux' and crepe myrtle 'Tuscarora'.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 5:26PM
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ltruett(Zone, 9 Houston)

According to this fact sheet, that is just how Acoma grows.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 8:20PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


The correct spelling of crape myrtle is with an "a".

As ltruett's link indicates, this may not be the best choice for the style of tree you want, and you might be better off replacing it with one that has a more naturally vertical form. You could however do a lot to encourage your 'Acoma' to grow into a tree form. Proper pruning and maybe even staking the plant could result in a form more like what you seek. If you leave the plant alone, like you are doing now, I don't think you can expect it to take on the form you want. You should probably make a decision to either replace it or work with it and manage its form.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 9:13PM
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reluctantartist(9, CA)

Hi ltruett and brandon7,
thank you both for your inputs. I had done some googling of crape myrtle Acoma images, and I did see that most are shrub-like in form, but some others seem to be quite vertical. I guess those vertical forms had been pruned, and pruned, and pruned some more in order to achieve that shape.

We will do some hard thinking about whether we want to live with what we have or possibly pull it and start over.

Thanks again for your inputs.

Best regards,

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 12:20AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

Up here most of the varieties are multi-stemmed. I have one in a spot I think a vase shaped multi-stemmer will fill things out.

Just different, not bad. Maybe you have someplace else to transplant it to?

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 9:15PM
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reluctantartist(9, CA)

Hi toronado,
you're right, it's not bad, just different... but it doesn't really fit the spot it's in. Unfortunately my yard is pretty small, and there's not really any place else for it to go.
Thank you for your thoughts!
Best regards,

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 3:26AM
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