Master Gardener: Plant crapemyrtles now before cool weather lowers soil temperatures
BY JOE WOLKING Ask a Master Gardener
Saturday, September 01, 2012
9/01/12 at 5:09 AM
Q: I would like to plant several crapemyrtles in my yard. Is this a good time? Any advice on what kind to plant? Marian O., Tulsa
A: Congratulations on your choice of crapemyrtles. They will be an excellent addition to your landscape. Few plants have survived this summer's heat and drought as well as crapemyrtles. These plants produce most of the color in Tulsa's summer landscapes.
The best time to plant crapemyrtles is the warm summer months. They like warm soils to develop their root system. Our current soil temperatures are in the mid 80s. So the best time to plant is right now, before October's cool weather lowers soil temperatures.
Fortunately, today there are many choices of cultivars to choose from. Pick a size and color to fit your landscape. Sizes range from 2-foot dwarfs to 25-foot upright trees. Colors come in bright reds to pale pinks, shades of lavender to purples, and of course, white. A good resource for information is the Texas A&M Horticulture website at tulsaworld.com/crapemyrtles, which lists 60 popular varieties with photos, colors, sizes and descriptions of growth habits.
Some examples of different sized varieties include Pocomoke, which is a red dwarf, rounded shrub about 2 to 3 feet tall that looks good around a patio or walkway. Pink Velour and Red Rocket are cultivars developed and patented by a retired OSU professor. The Pink Velour cultivar is a bright pink upright of medium height that can be used in full sun in front of a privacy fence. Red Rocket fits its name and is a tall bright-red blossomed plant growing to 20-plus feet tall. Red Rocket might fit into any area of your landscape with adequate space. Keep in mind that they all will want full sun.
It is important to pick the size you want so that you can avoid severe pruning. Contrary to popular belief, research has shown that pruning back crapemyrtles does not improve flowering. Today, horticulturists often refer to the practice as crape murder.
Your crapemyrtles will thrive in full sun and almost any soil. Modest watering during the heat of summer will help blooming. Wait to fertilize them with a nitrogen fertilizer in early spring, not this fall.
The only downside is that we are at the northern edge of the growing range and when temperatures drop below zero some die to the ground but will regrow from the roots.
Plant this month and enjoy next summer's color.
If you have a garden-related question you would like the Master Gardeners to answer in a future column, call 918-746-3701.
Original Print Headline: Plant crapemyrtles in the heat
September lawn tips
Most trees and shrubs planted in the fall will outperform those planted in the spring. Be sure to mulch.
Pre-emergent herbicide application to prevent winter weeds should be completed by mid-September. Do not treat areas that will be reseeded in the fall.
Fescue lawns should be fertilized in September after it cools and again in November. Do not fertilize Bermuda or zoysia lawns until next May.
Mid-September through mid-October is the best time to over-seed or to establish cool-season grasses like tall fescue. Use a blend of three or more fescues with or without Kentucky bluegrass. Check the Tulsa Master Gardeners website or stop by their offices for complete instructions on seeding.
Few plants have survived this summer's heat and drought as well as crapemyrtles. BILL SEVIER/Courtesy