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Growing Together, Issue #99
March 27, 2015

Crepe Myrtle Creates Wonderful Summer Blossoms

Welcome to the March issue of gardening with Herbee's Growing Together newsletter. It is such a pleasure to have you all with us again this month. Herbee and I would like to welcome our newest members. We just love the fact that all of you are from four corners of the world. You all have such unique and wonderful plant specimens in your own geographic locations. This month Herbee and I would like to share with you a very popular tree here in the southeastern United States, the Crepe Myrtle.

crepe myrtle dynamite

The Crepe or Crape Myrtle family is one of the most vibrant and refreshing flowering specimens in zones 7-9 in the United States. If you live in zone 6, a dwarf Crepe Myrtle would work. Herbee and I recommend putting in a container, and bringing the plant indoors during the winter months. This tree does well in sunny locations. It thrives in well drained soil. The Crepe Myrtle is deciduous, and the leaves drop off when the cold sets in the fall months.

There are a wide variety of family members to choose from. The above picture is the Dynamite. Notice the beautiful red flowers. The Dynamite will mature 15-20 feet high, and around 9 to 10 feet wide. The Red Rocket is a larger version, and can mature 20 to 30 feet high. Flowers range in color from red, purple, pink, and white. The Natchez is a large white version. The Mushkogee is a large pink variety.

One very important aspect of the Crepe Myrtle family, is when and how to properly prune this specimen. You would be amazed in our area here in the upstate of South Carolina. You can drive down one street, and see Crepe Myrtles pruned different ways. Some folks with cut the branches down, or a severe pruning each year.

Herbee and I like to recommend to keep this tree in its natural form. We recommend you prune your Crepe Myrtle in late winter or early spring. We prune ours in February or early March. We use pruners and loppers to prune or tree specimens that line the edge of our property by the road. We will cut at an angle the dead flowers and also prune back some of the leggy branches.

Our trees are very well established, so we are only pruning every other year now. You can keep the Crepe Myrtle's height in tacked, by topping off each early spring.

The Crape Myrtle is native to Japan. One of the biggest highlights of this tree is its bark-less trunk. Below is a link to some tree trunks on our gardening with Herbee site. There is a picture of a Crepe Myrtle trunk. Some people like to show off the trunk, and prune the branches off the bottom. Others like to show their varieties with full branches extending all the way down to the trunk. Whatever you decide would fit your needs, the Crepe Myrtle is a great choice to give your summertime some beautiful color.

Tip For The Month

As many of us are in the springtime, now is a great time to plan or take action in properly prepping our gardens. Herbee, Tom and I had our vegetable garden soil tested. We didn't spend a lot of money, and got a small testing kit. We found out that we needed to add Nitrogen and Aluminum Sulfate to make the soil more acidic. It kind of surprised us, as we tend to have acidic soil here in the south.

Whether you are planning a spring or fall garden, now is a great time to plan and take action. Take the time to make sure you have the best possible results you are looking for.

Thought For The Month

Herbee and I personally love this time of year. Our Bradford Pears are in full bloom. The white blossoms engulf all the branches, yet the flowers do not smell that great. Oh well, guess we can't have both all the time, but it doesn't seem to bother Herbee. The Maple and other deciduous trees are coming to life again. The Cherry trees are in bloom. Before long the Azaleas buds will be appearing.

Spring is a renewal time in so many ways. Take the time each day to notice a little bud appearing. See if you can see the first flower emerging from the ground. If you live in the southern hemisphere, take the time to enjoy the magnificent colors that surround you. Today, all of us seem to be in such a hurry with deadlines, schedules, and other priorities. Nature gives us so much to enjoy, don't let this gift pass you by. Thanks again for joining Herbee and I. We hope you have a wonderful April, and look forward to being with you again at the end of April. Have a great safe and healthy month! Here is the link to the tree trunk page, and also some insights and photos on the Bradford Pear Page.

Herbee and Kimberly

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