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Crape Myrtle Roots - How do they grow?

Posted by greengardener07 6b/7 - SE PA (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 31, 08 at 12:59

Hi all,

I hope I have the right forum. I want to put either a dwarf crape myrtle or one of the smaller varieties of crape myrtle in my yard. It will be in a sunny location next to a hill and retaining wall.

1.) Will the roots spread really far out where it will damage the retaining wall?

2.)Or do they have a tap root type system?

3.) Is this site unsuitable? Don't Crape Myrtle's require full sun?

Thanks in advance for any help.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Crape Myrtle Roots - How do they grow?

Next to reatining wall means different things. Their roots can wind up in weird places, usually sending up suckers, so no if it's two feet, but 10 feet, no problem, but then dwarfs may act differently then standards. Yes they enjoy the sun.

Here is a link that might be useful: Propagating Perennials


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RE: Crape Myrtle Roots - How do they grow?

Thanks for the quick response.

But how do the roots grow? Do they spread out like a forsythia (I hate this plant, it should be classified as a weed!) would or down like a lilac bush?


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RE: Crape Myrtle Roots - How do they grow?

While some plants can be said to have deep roots and some shallow, most plants - be they trees or shrubs - grow roots in the top 18-24 inches of soil, out to their drip-line and beyond. How far beyond is a matter of the species, the variety, the conditions under which it is growing - soil, water availability, etc. - but generally, you will get feeder roots out as far again. Some trees do have roots that can run from one side of a lawn to the other, but they are exceptions.

I have no specific knowledge of how CM roots grow, but would expect that it was more down than out, within reason - the larger the CM, the more the root spread to be expected.

Since CMs grow more up than out, and since their suckering is usually a matter of new shoots coming up from the base of the plant and not from roots many feet away in the lawn, I think, as long as you are planting at a distance of 3-4' way from the retaining wall, you should be fine planting one of the smaller CMs in the bed. One of the large, older CM varieties might be more problematic, but since you say you want a dwarf or small one, I would go for it.

If you are REALLY worried about the stability of the retaining wall, then I would avoid all trees or shrubs in the planting bed, and stick with perennials - 99% of them don't have roots that are invasive.


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