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Crape Myrtle, Thin Trunk

Posted by immobilus Tucson 9a (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 25, 13 at 0:10


Last year around April,I bought two red dynamite crape myrtles. Tucson get VERY warm shortly after April, so they went through some heat stress but I just wanted them, slowly each night switching between the two (expensive - in Tucson.) in one of them, because our Arizona soils are extremely alkaline and saline), I applied gypsum to break up the soil and ammonium sulfate to lower the pH. On one, admittedly, I over did it with the sulfate and it stopped leading out completely around late-August and didn't lead out again until October. They've been dormant since.

In tucson, crape myrtles come out of dormancy in early to mid-march. They are still dormant, one (a pink velour that I cut down severely so it would grow as a bush) is already started to have swelling nodes that are turning red.

My question is, I got the trees at lowes. They were $20, about 7" tall and they've grown heidth-wise since then. The issue is the trunk is so thin, as it has been. It's not on the lowes stake. I bought a green, tall, garden steak and garden tape. I move the tape around often to ensure its not being strangled.

I did notice that the mulch from last year had decomposed and turned to soil, so the crown of the tree was about 4" below the dirt. About a week ago, I uprooted both of them without damaging the roots (the roots are spreading into surrounding soil) and lifted them so the crown can dry, rebark, and contribute to trunk/limb growth.

If the stakes they're on fail (I used a limb as a laundry line during a stiff wind today) they bend all the way to the ground. They don't break, but they bend.

What can I add to encourage stringing trunk/limb growth? I would forego an early bloom this year for green growth and thicker would. Any suggestions? Iron? Nitrogen (only) fertilizer?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Crape Myrtle, Thin Trunk

No fertilizer. You'll likely have to stake them properly [laundry line?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?! ??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?] for several years in that climate to get them to grow out of the abusive treatment they received to be in that shape (likely from the abusive bigbox).

RE: Crape Myrtle, Thin Trunk

you are getting close to LOVING THEM TO DEATH ...

how about you just INSURE PROPER WATERING ...

and leave them alone ...

you stressed them by replanting.. i do NOT fertilize stressed plants ...

hard to give staking ideas w/o a pic... but i would let them blow in the wind.. and THEN.. if they break.. prune them ... and let them grow into a more natural shape ...

you bought a plant with pretty good potential.. at 7 INCHES.. unless that is a typo ... i dont know why a 7 inch plant needs staking.. and i dont understand what your expectations can be ... [i am not typing more because i am thinking 7 inches is wrong ... and that is why a picture is needed] ...


RE: Crape Myrtle, Thin Trunk

  • Posted by dis_ z9 CA (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 1, 13 at 11:58

The Dynamite in my back yard had a trunk that was no thicker than my little finger and it was six feet tall when I planted it three years ago. I lined the planting hole with chicken wire since the gophers around here think Crapes are dessert. I left it on the stake Lowe's supplied. I just watered it. For the first year it didn't do much. Next year it sent up more trunks from the base. I favor a multitrunked look so I left it alone.

This last year it took off. The stake broke in the wind but the tree didn't. It has several trunks over in inch in diameter. It's not old enough yet to make that pretty crape bark but it did a beautiful hot red fireworks show last summer.

Last year I planted another Dynamite near my front gate with a trunk the size of my little finger. Hasn't grown much but I know it will be fine.

Today I am unstaking three Crapes and a Tecate Cypress. Most of 'em, the tape is already gone and the stake is doing nothing.

RE: Crape Myrtle, Thin Trunk

Here, at least, too much water makes them very susceptible to breakage. They are pretty drought tolerant once established.

RE: Crape Myrtle, Thin Trunk

I agree with everyone else, leave them alone. I planted about 7 crepes last summer, including 2 Dynamites, and a Pink Velour, and haven't done anything but water them occasionally. Most are breaking dormancy now. Yours isn't multiple trunk? I think that would be more stable. If you want multiple trunk you could cut the main trunk out to force it to sprout more from the root level. And maybe you could root cuttings from the trunk you cut, so you'd have more to plant.

RE: Crape Myrtle, Thin Trunk

I think it was a good thing I pulled them up and replanted them. Though the trunk hasn't grown and top growth is anemic, the side branches are growing like crazy and they're flowering beautifully.

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