Another crape myrtle journey

I was inspired by the thread created by @hierophantic to create my own thread. Except here you’ll see how not to do it lol. I found this tree in a far off corner of a nursery where it was left to its own devices. It’s hard to tell, but the growth that it had was quite old and not what I would call vigorous. Also, about 3"-4" of roots below the nebari was exposed. The roots were lanky and lignified. There were like three to choose from, but I was in a rush. I decided on this one just because it had the most interesting nebari.

My first move was to fill the pot with potting soil and just get it healthy again. I cut off the seed pods too in an effort to transition strength away from seed generation. That’s pretty much all that will be done with this tree this year. My plan is to chop the trunks to a height of around 2’. I’ll vary the heights just to keep things interesting.

The tree has shown signs of recovery which I’ll show when take more pics.


Took some pics this morning. Here you can see the new growth next to the old growth. New growth hasn’t hardened off yet and has an interesting coloration. I previously mentioned that I cut off the seed pods in an effort to channel energy to new growth. I failed to mention that when you cut the seed pod on a crepe myrtle it will push out new flowers which will eventually turn into more seed pods. Basically, have I really achieved my goal? :man_shrugging:t5:

I’m still observing this to see how to get ramification. Cutting off the seed pods resulted in some ramification, but the new branches were themselves flower/seed branches. It’s been awhile since I’ve observed my landscape CMs, but I believe these will just die off after the seeds have been spent. Guess we’ll see. The base of the leaves do have an adventitious buds, so perhaps I can get those to sprout using a clip and grow model?

Not sure why the nebari looks so white in this pic. Just wanted to illustrate that I’m getting growth all the way back to the base of the tree where previous cuts have been made. This is good news as I plan on cutting this tree way back. I don’t think I’m going to treat this like my other nursery stock. I think I’m going to cut this back first and then repot it when it recovers. I’m just worried about forcing the root mass to sustain the tree at its current size while in a bonsai container. Figured it would be better to reduce the foliar load first and then reduce the root mass for the bonsai container. Thoughts?

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Just some observations/thoughts towards cutting then repotting vs. the other way around:
1 Every single cutting I’ve made off of my CM and stuck in water produced roots in no time. So as long as the growth has hardened and the tree is in an energy positive, personally I wouldn’t worry too much about cutting (some) roots as they produce them easily.
2 I also believe I recall a stream I saw the other day where Ryan said for collected material they first style then repot, for field grown they first repot & recover the roots (with the foliar mass intact helping root growth), then style.
3 Having said that - is it at all practical for you to have to repot it when it’s so tall?

P.S.: I’ve cut my CM back probably 4-5 times this year, always going back to 2 leaves to get some ramification and without letting it flower and it’s just pushed and pushed and pushed. Flowers only come out of the one-year growth, so I guess the question is do you have enough younger growth to direct energy back to so you can cut all the flowering parts?

Thank you for the reply. :slight_smile: Yup, Ryan mentioned the order of operations in last week’s iconic spruce creation part 1. My biggest issue is asking the tree to support that much mass after cutting down the roots. I’d be cutting back to roots that have been exposed for who knows how long. They’ve only been covered in potting soil for less than two months. Idk, it would probably be okay, but I’d have to secure the pot as it recovered.

That’s good to know about pruning CM. When I’m done chopping this there’ll be little to no secondary branches left, but for now I can experiment. There’s not much younger growth as far as I can tell. The tree is really waking up now, so hopefully it’ll bud further back and then I can experiment. Probably won’t get to do too much this year since it’ll go dormant soon and I probably won’t get another flush before then. :frowning:

I’ve been fighting aphids all summer long. Finally getting them under control, but not before they destroyed all of the new growth my tree had. It’s recovering now and is putting out some nice growth again. Apparently I’m great at getting a finger in the shot. :weary:

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This year I did the trunk chops and put it into a box. It didn’t skip a beat despite what I felt was a really hard cutback of the roots.

After the first flush hardened off I did a 70% partial defoliation. It’s already strongly pushing out ramified branching.