Stake crape myrtle branches?

markjg(7)July 15, 2014

I have a crape myrtle that I planted back in May. It has really taken off, I think it's happen with the location even though the sun doesn't hit the ground till about 10 or 11am because of the fence line.
We've had some rain here in Maryland the past few days, on and off. I came out this morning and the new blooms plus the rain from last night were really weight down the branches. One was almost horizontal. Should I stake these branches?
This is a pic from 2 days ago. I don't have any from the morning because I was running late :)

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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

ah, to stake or not to stake.

What variety is it?

Yes, the rain can weigh down the limbs, especially when in bloom.

You might try putting a large post in behind it, then loosely putting a few loops of green plastic tape around the limbs.

After it's done bloomin you can trim back the old flower heads.

It will soon get sturdier, although that is somewhat dependent upon variety. I had a Siren Red that always got weighed down with rains during the bloom cycle. It helped to trim it back each late Fall or early Spring.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:20AM
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Hey Dave I'm not sure. I bought it from Home Depot back in May. It was only 29 bucks and it didn't have a name or anything on it.
I took the risk and in happy with the blooms. It's shot up about a foot and a half since planting it at the end of May.
Someone on the forum suggested it's a Pink Velour because they thought that is one that HD stocks.
I still really new at planting and taking care of trees. I'm hoping this one will get above the fence line.
Should I use one stake behind the tree and tie house hold yarn loosely around the branches that need to be pulled up?


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 1:40PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

with a recent transplant.. i dont know if i would let it go batcarp crazy blooming.. i would prefer some root growth ...

so as soon as the first individual flower bud on a stalk opened.. i might cut it off for indoors ... and see if you can enjoy it indoors..

and who knows.. it might root.. i dont know.. i dont do CMs in MI ...

that way.. you can enjoy the flowers.. but shorten the branches.. so they hold themselves up.. w/o a bunch of ugly stakes ...

you have it in a very tight corner ... for what i understand CM potential.. may as well learn now.. how to prune it into submission ...

even if it is some dwarf variety ... its already outgrown the space ...

pruning is for the future.. and pruning does not harm a plant.. properly done...

if i am way off base.. because of some secret masonic CM rules.. i am sure i will be blasphemed ... [where is this coming from.. lol] ...

growth seems excessive for a new transplant .... did you fert it in the planting hole ....?? .. i always suspect such.. when a plant outgrows its ability to hold itself up ... and if you didnt.. the grower did.. in the pot sold ... so be it.. nothing to worry about ... just theorizing ...


    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 4:22PM
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Thanks Ken, I'm still learning And I don't know if that's what should be done with a myrtle. That's something I would like to hear more about. But I don't think it's anywhere near being too big for the space. I used some yarn just now to tie two branches to the fence. I just looped it around the branch and not tied around it
I sort of know what I'm doing lol but need some advice.
Here's what it looks like after this rain storm today

Ever branch has begun to produce buds. Not sure if I should cut them so it can use it's energy to grow taller and grow stronger roots.

I really don't want to prune it at all unless I must. I really want it to get as tall as possible. Id give it steroids if I could ;) the back of my townhouse backs to our parking lot... I do have an end unit thought :))

This post was edited by markjg on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 17:34

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 5:22PM
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My tie job ðÂÂÂ
I secure one branch at two different angles and the other in just one direction.
Am I asking for trouble by doing it like this. It's def not a permanent solution so will that cause trouble?

This post was edited by markjg on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 17:39

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 5:24PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

With crapes, part of it depends on what you want it to look like ultimately.

Do you want to limb it up to form a tree with one trunk? Or train with multiple (like three) trunks to grow upright.

In either of those cases they'll take some training. Doesn't look like you have room for a wide gangly shrub-like thing. You'll want to train it tall and remove lower limbs as it grows.

Look up 'training as a standard'.

I think you'll need one large post close behind it though and loosely tie the whole thing to it...not to strangle it, but to keep it more restrained.

It may actually be a good idea to remove the flowering ends which are weighing down and have it put energy into stem growth, but for me that would be hard to do. I want to enjoy them blooming!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:32PM
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That's great info! It would be hard to do Dave! I didn't know much about crapes myrtles at the time I bought this one. Ive learned a lot since.

I had been hoping that this single trunk myrtle would grow to a height a couple feet above my fence and branch and bloom out from there.

If its more likely this thing will grow taller if I cut the blooms off now then I most def will! I also dont mind if it gets bushy and fills up that space as long as it tops the fence by a couple of feet.

Here is a better pic of the area.
I'm going to share another of the my red rocket myrtle and my neighbor has some sort of white myrtle on the other side of the fence that he had planted just last year

This post was edited by markjg on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 20:54

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:52PM
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You might have seen this one already

This post was edited by markjg on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 19:17

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:01PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I think you are most likely going to have to do some serious pruning in about a year or so to keep your "baby" in check. It's hard to predict, for sure, without knowing what cultivar you have, but it appears to be pretty vigorous with lots of potential to become very large. My personal preference for a crape in that location would be one with about three, and no more than five, trunks. Maybe if you keep it limbed-up when it gets larger, it will be OK for the location. But, it is likely to require some pruning maintenance, at least.

If it does become unmanageable and you have to remove it in a few years, be sure to use a systemic herbicide on the freshly cut stumps to keep it from coming back up everywhere. If that does happen, and you still want a crape myrtle in the same location, buy one of a cultivar that is known to be a slower grower.

I'm guessing that you don't have 'Whit III' (Pink Velour), unless the tag fell off some way. I would expect that cultivar to be well marked as required by the licenser. Especially if there were multiple untagged crapes (as opposed to just one oddball), I think it is more likely to be a less regulated cultivar.

One good way I've found to tie up crapes is with pantyhose. I don't know much about pantyhose, but I have noticed that some seem to work better (last longer) than others (maybe it's cheap v expensive?). Anyway, pantyhose are readily available for many and allow for some natural movement when used as plant ties.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:26PM
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It was on a table with a bunch of others. All unmarked. I tried to ask the guy at HD wearing the purple shirt, they work for the nursery company. He didn't knew he just knew they were CMs... He barely spoke English... I wonder if I could go back and ask if anyone knows.

I'll most likely cut the blooms off tomorrow with the hope of it growing tall and upright this season. That seems like it will makes sense. I've see chopped off CMs in the fall and never stopped to think these things do grow back like a weed.

I had a couple "goals" in mind when I bought this CM.
1 I bought it as a single trunk tree thinking it would stay that way. It was a crap shoot for the corner location between this CM and that one that's still in the pot, that one has 2 trunks and is growing totally different.
2 I was hoping it would grow up over the fence and then create a sort of canopy to add privacy while at ground level and a little for the deck I took the pic from. Like a 10-15 tall living fence for that corner...
3 I wanted something fast growing.

Soooo did I Eff up with my choice of trees and location. I had a blank slate when I moved in except for the brick work that was there.
I don't mind having to trim or maintain the tree /s if I'll get the results I want.

This post was edited by markjg on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 22:16

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:07PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I think that if you work with it, you probably can make it do what you want. Most crape myrtles will stop suckering as much, after a while, if you keep the suckers removed. Ripping them (the root suckers) off early, BTW, works better than pruning them off. Ripping them away before the root suckers get very large, reduces the number of resprouts.

If you are persistent and attentive, you can do a lot of wonderful things with pruning (take bonsai, for example).

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:58PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

At this point, since you prefer a single-trunk crape, I would buy a 6 foot metal fence post, stick it right behind the plant, remove all but the tallest, most upright branches, leaving only one.

Tie that branch (with panty hose -- good idea Brandon!) loosely to the post in several spots. Maybe at three or four locations.

Once that shoot gets to the height where you want it to branch, prune it and it should begin to branch out at that height. Remove all other shoots lower down (where you want the trunk to be).

Now, this may or may not work -- again depending on the variety it is. Some crapes want to grow more shrubby and can't develop a strong enough trunk to support a lot of growth. Others, like Biloxi for example, grow tall and vigorously and are ideal for 'standardizing'.

In about two or three years you should have a great looking single-trunked crape.

If you research the many named varieties of crapes, you will see that there is quite a variety in forms, heights, etc. Once you decide what form and height fits your space -- THEN you buy the correct variety.

Since you have an unknown entity, it may or may not work.

This post was edited by dave_in_nova on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 8:06

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:03AM
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I know I goofed when picking an unknown.
You all have posted some really great info.

I couldn't find what I needed about standardizing, could you post a link please?

Will the existing trunk continue to grow taller or the branches with blooms on them are what will add the height?

I would like it to look like this pic. Is that possible?
Sorry for all the questions, thanks for the help

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:48AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Usually 'standards' are created from plants that are typically shrubby. In this case crapes can be shrubby as well, so I think you can still use the term 'standard'. 'Limbing up' is another terms that might be applicable (and searchable).

Yes, you should be able to make your crape into that form (your last pic) with some work.

Train your most vigorous and upright limb to the post. It will eventually form your single trunk. As the plant grows clip off lower limbs and root sprouts.

Here is a link that might be useful: Creating standards

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 10:55AM
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Excellent Dave!
Should I wait till the fall to trim off the lower branches? What do you call the area of the tree where the single trunk stops and it branches out?
I'll trim off all of shrubby material below that point.

I didn't wait ð¹
Working on getting some pantyhose

This post was edited by markjg on Fri, Jul 18, 14 at 19:18

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 3:44PM
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Cleaned out all the tiny branches growing in the center. Found some of those spiderweb type things. I hosed it down and up this afternoon it was fairly cool., I tried to wash off any bugs and webs. I've been seeing beetles lately here and there and noticed a couple leafs on the 3 different CMs I have have large holes chewed in a leaf or two per plant.

I'm not sure what to do with the branch closet to the stake. How to control it

This post was edited by markjg on Wed, Jul 23, 14 at 11:04

    Bookmark   July 18, 2014 at 8:02PM
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I'd stay away from No Nonsense pantyhose, they lose their elasticity quickly. Leggs or Hanes will likely do, Victoria's Secret if you don't mind really lavishing your little Crape doll. lol

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 12:43AM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Hey, it's coming along real well! I'd leave it for now.

Let that highest branch keep growing up. Lop it off where you want it to branch.

Eventually most all the lower limbs in your last pic will be removed (like next season), but for now they are helping the plant to grow.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:23AM
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