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Gardening Q&A

Facts about crape myrtles and more

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Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

August 1, 2016 | 707 views | Post a comment

Q: One of my crape myrtles is not doing as well as the others. It is in a flower bed in front of my house and I hate to lose it because the five bare trunks look so striking.

A: Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac has a large section on crape myrtles. One paragraph stood out: “for planting in flower and shrub beds, amend the soil with organic matter--the more the better. For planting single plants in hedges, in alleys, or as shade trees, no soil preparation is recommended.” I infer from this that whatever else is in your bed is competing with the crape myrtle for nutrients. Therefore you should add organic matter and that should take care of the problem.

Remember: if you want bloom, plant crape myrtles in full sun. When you buy crape myrtles, buy mildew resistant varieties. Also, be sure to check the mature size of the plant you buy. If you only want a small tree or shrub size, do not buy a Red Rocket. Mine is way over 20 feet. There are five different size variations: miniature grows from two to three feet, dwarf grows three to six feet, semi-dwarf grows five to 12 feet, large shrub/small tree grows from 10 to 20 feet, and tree grows over 20 feet. When you buy the wrong size crape myrtle and try to make it fit a certain spot, you end up having to prune and top the tree which ruins its natural structure and symmetry. Around here, we call that “crape murder.” There are things you can do, according to Doug Welsh. Prune off the suckers that come up around the trunk. Deadhead the plants of their old blooms so that you can extend the blooming period. Don’t cut a branch that is over a half inch in diameter unless you cut it all the way back to its beginning. Remove dead, dying, or damaged branches as well as competing branches.

Q: What is the webbing all over the trunk of my olive tree? What do I do about it?

A: Several sites including and aggie-horticulture say that the tree has Webbing Bark Lice or Archipsocus nomas which is not harmful to the tree. The bark lice are feeding on fungi, lichens, molds and other debris on the trunk under the web. The web is just something they use to protect themselves from wind and rain and predators. You don’t need to use insecticides. Instead, think of the bark lice as “trunk cleaners.” If you really don’t want the webbing, remove it with a high pressure spray of water.

Remember that I am not talking about web worms. Web worms are up in the tree around the leaves. When you see them forming, break the web with a fishing pole or long stick so that wasps can get in and feed on the larvae.

Q: When do I start preparing my rose bushes for fall bloom?

A: In mid-August prune back hybrid and old fashioned roses by about 25 percent. Feed the plants with a nitrogen product around the drip line. Water thoroughly after you prune and fertilize. Add mulch.

Clara Mae Marcotte is a Texas Master Gardener with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, at 210 East Live Oak Street in Seguin.
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