Many people flock to crape myrtles because they are low maintenance trees that flower for months. While other flowering tree varieties bloom for brief periods in the spring, Crape Myrtles have blooms that last all summer. Their blooms, fall foliage and attractive peeling bark provide year round interest in the landscape.
Plus, Crape Myrtles are tough. By being drought tolerant and heat resistant they continue to bloom through heat waves and droughts. They can even tolerate urban smog and pollution, making them an excellent choice for city landscapes.
However, being tough doesn’t make them bulletproof. In the rare case that your tree develops an issue, there is a quick and simple solution to quickly bring it back to full health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Isn’t My Tree Blooming?
April showers bring May flowers right? This isn’t exactly the case with Crape Myrtles. Crape Myrtles bloom later in the summer around June, so you won’t see crape flowers as early as you see roses or gardenias in your garden.
But wait, now it’s midsummer and my tree still isn’t blooming? Check on your trees location. Crape Myrtles need at least six hours of sunlight a day in order to bloom. Prior to planting your trees, watch your yard to see how much sunlight it gets to determine the best planting location.
Check your fertilizer. Fertilizers that are high in nitrogen will help your trees grow faster, but can neglect the flowers. For the brightest blooms, use a fertilizer that’s high in phosphorous. However, a well-balanced fertilizer like formula 10-10-10 will be best for the overall health of your trees.
My Crape Myrtle Blooms Are The Wrong Color?
Sometimes purple, pink and red blooms will emerge with a dull shade of color and can even be white. This doesn’t mean something is wrong with your tree or that you received the wrong plant because the weather can affect the color of the blooms.
The blooms have a pigment in them called anthocyanin, which is only active in the presence of the sun. If you have a lot of cloudy days in the late spring or early summer then the pigment may not become activated. By the next blooming cycle in a few weeks the flowers should have their natural color.
Other environmental factors that affect the bloom color include the amount of water that your trees receive and the pH balance of your soil.
Crape Myrtles are known for being drought tolerant, but they prefer a moderate amount of consistent moisture. Their soil should be kept moist, but not over saturated. If it doesn’t rain, your trees will need a long, slow deep watering once or twice a month.
These trees prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH ranging from 5.0 to 6.5. To raise the acidity of your soil add organic matter, peat moss or lime to it. To lower the acidity, add sulfur. You can measure the pH balance of your soil with a pH tester that can be found at your local gardening store.
What are these spots or white powder on the leaves?
Like all trees, Crape Myrtles can develop fungus or mildew on their leaves and creepy crawling critters may want to make these trees their home. However, Crape Myrtles have a higher resistance to pests and diseases than other flowering tree varieties, and they’re easy to quickly wipe out.
Our disease resistant varieties include the Arapaho, Catawba, Natchez, Sioux, Tonto, Dynamite, Red Rocket and Pink Velour
Mildews and Molds Include:
Powdery Mildew is a white substance that can grow on the leaves of trees during cooler, wet summers. It causes the leaves to curl up and shrivel, and can keep blooms from opening. While it’s rare for this mold to occur, if you spot any spray your tree with an all natural, organic fungicide. It will wipe the mildew out without the use of harmful chemicals. Neem oil is a great environmentally safe option.
Cercospora Leaf Spot is a fungus that takes the form of small brown spots on older leaves. It spreads to all of the leaves and causes them to turn shades of orange and yellow, and then prematurely drop. Once the leaves drop, they’ll emerge next season without any problems so this fungus is not very concerning. To get rid of the fungus spray your tree with an all-natural, organic fungicide. Cercospora is also caused by cool, wet summers.
**You can prevent both of the molds from occurring by planting your tree in a sunny area of the yard that has good airflow, so the leaves will stay warm and dry. Also, lightly prune the branches in the interior of the canopy to promote air circulation.
Black Sooty Mold is a mold that doesn’t actually harm your tree, but it covers the leaves with an unattractive black color as if they’ve been poorly spray painted black. The mold can be easily washed away with a hose. Although, in order to properly treat the mold, you have to treat the sources which are infesting insects like aphids or scales.
Aphids are tiny green bugs that crawl on leaves and bite into them to suck out the tree’s nectar. They’re rude guests that leave their droppings or ‘Honey Dew’ all over the leaves and branches, which is what causes sooty mold to occur. You can naturally get rid of aphids with neem oil or an organic pesticide. You can also bring good insects like ladybugs or praying mantises to eat the aphids.
Scales are small white or grey bugs that collect on the trunk of trees. They’re noticeable because they’re droppings cause the bark to turn black with sooty mold that can be sprayed away with a hose. Use neem oil or an all-naturally pesticide spray to get rid of scales. Be sure to get the spray inside any cracks or crevices inside the trunk.
Relax and enjoy the blooms
Every summer Crape Myrtles bloom for months, some varieties even recycle their blooms up until the first frost. They provide beauty without the worry, because even their most common problems rarely occur and are very easy to quickly fix.