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Fig3825
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Crepe Myrtle Cuttings

I have done some looking around on the web regarding propagating a Crepe Myrtle we have in our yard. The tree has to be 20-25' tall. I've read to take cuttings from the newer growth and haven't been able to definitively find instructions that are detailed enough for me to feel comfortable doing it. I have bought some rooting hormone powder.

Additionally, we are hoping to propagate some cuttings to move to a new home we are building that won't be completed for nearly 9 months. The tree in our current location yard is blooming, presently, on one side but not on the other that is somewhat shaded. My specific questions are thus:

1. If I cannot reach the 'new growth' or cannot identify the 'new growth', can I just take a cutting pretty much anywhere within 8-10" of the end of a branch, below the closest node, dip it in the hormone powder and place in the growing medium? I've read cuttings should be taken in the spring, but we don't have that option - how much does this matter? I've also seen pictures of others who have done cuttings and they are most often green - our tree is quite woody near the ends of the branches as it's well established...

2. Does it matter how thick the branch is that I cut? Since we'll want something relatively substantial in the next 9 months or so, I'm thinking a larger cutting might revive faster assuming we pull it off...

3. Does it matter that the cutting would have blooms on the end of it? Or should I take it from the non blooming side knowing that it will bloom soon (or most likely not since we'll be cutting it...)

4. Would I be better served by doing the air layering method and focusing on a larger portion of the tree, maybe a branch that is 3' long to tip and has more nodes beyond the cutting so that it's a more established tree once it has rooted and can be cut?

Thanks in advance for any specific advice.

:D

thanrose
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Gah! I've used crape myrtle cuttings for stakes and had them strike roots.

I've ripped out crape myrtles mangling the roots unbelieveably and had them transplant with ease, not only that, but sending up new growth on the root bits left behind.

Very easy to root in my experience. Any time at all for me, but maybe you would not be so fortunate in dead of winter.

Trim off the flower or buds before trying to root the stem. You should strip off most of the leaves. Doesn't matter which side you take it from. I would guess that your sparse flowering side is not just a little late, but is just too shaded or sheltered to blossom.

Take several cuttings of various thicknesses if you wish. I'd anticipate that all of them will root, but maybe a two inch thick trunk would have a hard time developing roots fast enough to keep it hydrated enough to sprout new leaves. That's just a guess though.

bullthistle
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Check in your yard if your soil is decent. Loads of crapes seed themselves by me.

twittel
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This year, one of my crape myrtle put out seedlings about 3 feet from the main trunk. If it's this easy, I hope to use seedlings around the inside of my circular drive. They're deep red blooms, so I hope it works for me.

I've not had success using woody stem cuttings. I use root hormone, but no luck. I've even tried using the sucker shoots, but can never get them to root. So, I was very delighted to find seedlings sprout up near my Crape.
Happy Gardening!

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Fig3825
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I think I'm going to try both methods. I don't see any lying around on the ground that have seeded - and even if there were some on the ground, I would simply confuse weeds for crepes and would probably end up growing weeds in my greenhouse for a year thinking they were crepes! :)

I'll take some cuttings on the smaller branch ends and I think I want to try air layering on some of the bigger ones. If I can get a 1/2" - 1" to root using air layering, then I should have some decent shrubs to get started with next year when we move to our new house. Wouldn't ya think?

twittel
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I like your approach as you can have (start) as many as you like. I'm not familiar with air layering. How is it different from girdling which I thought would kill a plant?
Happy Gardening!

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Fig3825
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I'm no expert on air layering, and I had to look up girdling because I had no idea what it was.

Air layering isn't much different. You actually girdle the limb in the process of air layering. According to what I've read and, subsequently, what I am going to try involves the following:

1. Score the branch in two places below the node, completely circling the branch with your score. The two scores should be about 1" apart.

2. Remove the outer layer between your scores to expose the green underflesh of the limb.

3. Wrap wet spagnum moss around the area, and cover a few inches above and below the now exposed flesh.

4. Wrap the spagnum with tin foil or plastic wrap and keep the moss moist for 4-6 weeks.

5. Like Christmas morning, and after 4-6 weeks, unwrap and you should have a rooty surprise!

At least that's what I've read... You can find several videos on Youtube of people doing this step by step on many different types of trees and even shrubs that get woody.

I really want to get some tree peonies and growing them, apparently, takes 4-6 years to get flowers if grown from seeds. Buying the little trees is expensive. I haven't figured out how to do this to date. Perhaps if I set my overwinter greenhouse up again I can speed this process up under my 400w metal halide.

I'm also hoping I can convince my neighbors to let me take a few cuttings off their Japanese Maples and start a couple of those, but I've read that the roots do not develop fast enough to sustain the small trees and grafting is the best way to do this. I've never tried grafting, but there's a first time for everything.

twittel
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Thanks CM...I'll check out YouTube. Sounds like a surgical process, but if successful, you'll be greatly rewarded! Good luck and I'll keep you updated if I decide to try it.
Happy Gardening!

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Fig3825
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Well, I took the dogs for a walk and collected cuttings from deep pink, magenta and our own pale pink crepe. I'm applied the hormone and placed in pots of sand. I'll let you know how it's going in 4-6 weeks!

I also made a couple air layer pockets on the pale pink we have in our yard. Have no idea how this is going to work out, but if it does, the air layers will provide nice starter trees!

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Fig3825
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Because I've been terribly busy, I allowed all of the cuttings to fail. They dried up.

However, the air layers I did in our yard have been left alone for upwards of 2 months. I watered when when I did the layering and again maybe 2-3 weeks later. Since then, they've been totally ignored. As of last night, I has assumed they would be totally dead as well, but I opened them up and had roots galore! I was ecstatic about it! I watered them again and will give them another couple weeks and will then try to plant them.

Does anyone know whether I should pot them and keep them indoors over the wiinter or if I should plant them in the yard? I live in Alexandria, Va. It gets really cold here in the winter - subfreezing isn't uncommon for several weeks.

I am unsure whether or not I am going to erect my indoor greenhouse or not, so they would only be set in a window for the winter if I were to pot them.

bullthistle
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You had success once so why wouldn't you plant out of doors or would you rather it grow for years then get hit. Just plant outside and mulch heavy and make sure you water at least once a week if no rain. and use a handful of bonemeal when you plant in a protected area out of the wind amybe against the house because all homes lose heat no matter what the utility company implies.

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djlen
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'fig' - If you have had flowering on your existing tree and now have seed pods, do yourself a favor and just let the seed pods dry out and extract the
seed from them after they are dry and plant those seeds in the spring as follows.
Take the seeds and put them in the refrigerator or leave them outside or in the garage in a bag to Winter over. Then in the Spring plant them in flats about 1/4" deep in a warm, sunny location and they will germinate in 3 - 6 weeks depending on heat and sun. They must be kept moist during the planting process so they should be kept in a large aquarium(I have several and they work like mini greenhouses), or a cold frame, or a large plastic bag with the end tied shut. Open whatever you use every few days to ventilate and then close them up.
Some of the replies to your post came from folks in very warm climates and that makes a huge difference in results. Crepes like warmth. You should have no trouble germinating them where you live if once planted you keep them warm moist and sunny. And the grow very quickly.
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fulenn
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I've enjoyed this thread and now feel ready to try my own crepe myrtle cuttings. Thanks for the info, everyone.

Fulenn

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Fig3825
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As promised, I unwrapped the first of the three air layers from the crepe myrtle in our front yard.

These were layered on July 17th. As I said previously, I was somewhat negligent in looking after these and only opened the wraps and watered these about 4 times between then and tonight (exactly 3 months and a day).

At any rate, this is what I found:

[img]https://jtnewton.com/Images/Garden/10182011001.jpg[/img]

[img]https://jtnewton.com/Images/Garden/10182011002.jpg[/img]

[img]https://jtnewton.com/Images/Garden/10182011003.jpg[/img]

And this is my overwinter setup for my dwarf meyer lemon (center), my three small japanese maples (right) and the first of the three crepes (left):

[img]https://jtnewton.com/Images/Garden/10182011010.jpg[/img]

[img]https://jtnewton.com/Images/Garden/10182011011.jpg[/img]

I'm excited to see if they survive! If it does (they do) then it beats trying to germinate and raise these from seeds - that's for sure!

The fixture was given to me by one of my electrical subcontractors so the bulb that is in this fixture is a plain white stock metal halide. The color temp is not ideal at 4000K. I ordered a Hortilux Blue (color temp at 6500K) to replace it and should be able to pick it up this weekend.

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Japan maples are temperate zone trees. Your sig-line says you live in VA. Those Japan maples need need to have a dormant period of the whole winter out of doors.

I would suspect as much for the crepe myrtles too.

A garage or a hardware cloth barrier to protect bermed into a garden saplings is a better plan for saplings (or bonsai). Indoors is much too dry and hot.
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Fig3825
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The room is humidity controlled. I don't quite understand why you can't grow them year round when they are young if the 'climate' is correct. I have temperature control in the room from around 60F to 85F. The room, by nature, is cool in the winter and I use oscillating space heat to keep the temp maintained.

Based on what you are saying, I need to store them away in the dark somewhere at a lower temperature and let all of the foliage die back?

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djlen
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fig,
As Tom mentions above most of the plants that you intend to put under lights inside will not do well and very well might die indoors. They need a period of cold in order to rest.
This is the natural cycle of these plants and I would recommend that now is the time to put them out, let the leaves drop and then put them in an unheated garage for the Winter months. If, in March you want to bring them into the house to break dormancy early and get an early start, they would do much better for you. If you keep them inside you will see a decline in vigor and health and once it's well into Winter they cannot be put outside because will not be hardened off. They need the gradual cooling that they will get if you put them out now.
About the lighting K, or kelvin temp. Plants don't really care what the K rating is of the lights. That rating is for humans based on the color of the light and what pleases the individual's eye. If what you have is pleasing to you, stick with it until you need to replace the bulb.
But again, use your lighting for "indoor" plants and put the deciduous trees outside where the belong.
Regards,
Len

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Fig3825
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Okay, thanks all. I was not savvy to any of this.

One last question...is it okay to leave them in the pots when I put them outside? And can I just leave them out all winter or do I NEED to bring them in once they have dropped leaves and have gone dormant? I don't have a garage - only the room I spoke about and the temp in there will be 70+ all winter.

Does this also apply to my Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree? We moved from a condo to a house last fall and moved it inside in the new house. It dropped almost all leaves, I suspect, due to shock. The window it was near was uninsulated and the soil temp dropped below 60 (I later found). So I pruned it down and put it under the light all winter and by spring, it was completely rejuvenated to what you see in the picture.

This summer, it bloomed once and then dropped all the blooms. Just about a month ago, it started blooming again and now I have tiny lemons starting to grow. I think citrus need to be kept warm and overwinter indoors. But that is just what I've read and don't really know any better. I'm hoping that I can keep the lemons growing... They are only about 3/8 inch along the long dimension at the moment and there are probably 50-70 tiny lemons all over it. The picture is not hi-res enough to see them, though. But, trust me, they're there. :)

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Fig3825
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Fig3825 wrote:Okay, thanks all. I was not savvy to any of this.

One last question...is it okay to leave them in the pots when I put them outside? And can I just leave them out all winter or do I NEED to bring them in once they have dropped leaves and have gone dormant? I don't have a garage - only the room I spoke about and the temp in there will be 70+ all winter. I had the idea that I could simply plant the pots into the ground if leaving them in pots above ground is not optimal... That way I can easily remove the pots from the ground in the spring for transplanting at the new house in the summer.

Does this also apply to my Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree? We moved from a condo to a house last fall and moved it inside in the new house. It dropped almost all leaves, I suspect, due to shock. The window it was near was uninsulated and the soil temp dropped below 60 (I later found). So I pruned it down and put it under the light all winter and by spring, it was completely rejuvenated to what you see in the picture.

This summer, it bloomed once and then dropped all the blooms. Just about a month ago, it started blooming again and now I have tiny lemons starting to grow. I think citrus need to be kept warm and overwinter indoors. But that is just what I've read and don't really know any better. I'm hoping that I can keep the lemons growing... They are only about 3/8 inch along the long dimension at the moment and there are probably 50-70 tiny lemons all over it. The picture is not hi-res enough to see them, though. But, trust me, they're there. :)

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Fig3825
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I don't know what I did above...something screwey for sure. Sorry, but I added something in my second post regarding planting the pots into the ground...

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djlen
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It's late an can't reply fully now but don't leave your lemon tree outside when you are expecting a frost. It is a tropical plant and must be brought inside for the Winter months. It can be kept under your light to over-winter.
More tomorrow.
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Len

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Fig3825
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Okay, so the three crepes and the three japanese maples are not planted in my backyard for the winter. I guess I won't really know whether or not they survive until next spring, so now I just need to be patient. Temps in my area area are ranging from 40-50F overnight low to 60-70F for the daytime highs.

On a positive note, when I got the japanese maples from Amazon several months ago, I planted them in a potting soil sand mix and placed them in a window in our kitchen (I didn't have the grow room setup then). The tips of the leaves started to dry and turn brown, but they didn't drop or completely brown. I chalked it up to stress from shipping and planting (they came bare rooted wrapped in plastic and wet sponge). They haven't seemed to change a whole lot in the week I had them under the light. However, when I transplanted them into my backyard yesterday, I did notice the roots had just reached the edge of the soil block that came out of the pot when I flipped them over to break them loose and put them in the ground. I guess that is a good sign...that the roots were growing.

Based on what you guys have written above, I won't see much happen with either of them over the winter.

Also, I did notice the crepe leaves had started to yellow slightly while spending the week under the light. I'd guess that this is either from it doing exactly what you said (dying because it wasn't allowed to go start going dormant for the coming winter) or it's in shock from cutting off the tree and planting or it simply doesn't have enough roots to support growth.

How much should I prune the 'canopy' in order for the small root ball to support what IS there? The remaining two crepes, when cut off the tree and unwrapped, had a similar root ball as the one I initially posted a picture of...?

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djlen
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Well, I would have suggested just leaving them in their pots and putting them, pot and all in the garden (if you have one), on the south side of the house or a sheltered area. Transplanting them at this time of year can be stressful for them, but it's done now and they are tougher than you think so they should be OK out there.
Temperate trees rarely do well in the long term in an indoor environment. I brought a couple of my mini crepes inside this past Summer but kept them on a south facing window sill with the window open so they got all the humidity available outside while I could still enjoy them from inside the house. Crepes love lots of light....in fact they will flower poorly if not given a nice sunny location so keep that in mind next Summer.
Again temperate trees go dormant and do practically nothing will in that state so they only need a very occasional watering if in pots while Wintering over. For both the Maples and Crepes I would wait until you start to see the buds swelling in the Spring before uprooting them again for re-potting.
The yellowing you saw was not them dying so much as complaining that their environment was not optimum.
When you mention the "canopy" I'm not sure what tree(s) you refer to, but I would not prune anything that goes outdoors at this time. Let them over winter and post a picture next growing season for advice on how to proceed.
Regards,
Len

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Fig3825
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I have planted them all outdoors. I scrapped the idea of testing one of each indoors over the winter to 'just see what would happen'. I was actually surprised that the crepes turned and then dropped their leaves. I'm hoping this happened because the transplanting actually worked and they didn't just die. The maples leaves seemed to dry out a bit but they never turned and dropped. I might have killed those three. I guess I won't really know until the spring... Wish me luck!

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djlen
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Ok, they should be good to go for the Winter. They are resting and sleeping and will show bud swelling in April or some time close to that. Then they can be lifted and re-potted. After that they will not need to be re-set into the ground unless you will be looking to force faster trunk growth. Just a yearly re-potting will keep them in the Pink.
Regards,
Len

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