dripping crepe myrtles

louannieDecember 6, 2005

I have a small "courtyard" in the back of my house, where the house makes an "L". Someday I am going to brick it in and make a patio. There is a corner where I would like to plant a tree of some kind to someday make some shade for the patio. I've gone to the ends of the earth and back researching, but have yet to make up my mind. I want it to have a spreading habit, be relatively fast-growing, and it must be tall enough at maturity that I can limb it up about 6-8 ft. so that it won't block the view of the pond in the pasture beyond from inside the house. I wanted it to be, if possible, both flowering and have good fall foliage.

Anyway, I have a nice 'Natchez' crepe myrtle in a large pot that I got on clearance last year ($4, and in a 3 gallon pot! woo hoo!), and I was going to put it there, as I believe it will meet the criteria stated (I also want to have a "white" garden in my courtyard). But while I was out under some other crepe myrtles in my yard this summer, I would feel drops falling on me. Then suddenly one day I remembered that I had read that it was "honeydew" from aphids. So I gave up the idea of putting the 'Natchez' by the courtyard. But then I saw a magazine article about a woman who had a beautiful 'Natchez' in the middle of her deck, and I've started to wonder if the dripping honeydew would actually be that much of a problem, you know, for sitting under or getting on lawn furniture.

Have any of you had any experiences with this?

(I'm sorry this is so "wordy", but I just don't get to talk much about gardening, as I don't know anyone else who is as serious about it as I am!) :-)

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I never had that many aphids to make any tree drip..and I would be careful not to plant the tree any closer than 20 ft of the house slab or supports if the house is elevated

    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 9:46PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Crapemyrtles will certainly be affected by aphids. As a matter of fact, there is a special crapemyrtle aphid! Some are more susceptible to aphids than others and will have problems on an annual basis. If so, you would probably have observed the black sooty mold that is a typical side effect of an aphid outbreak. Other insects that cause 'honeydew rain' are leafhoppers. I have stood in the shade of a crape myrtle and practically showered me, and leafhoppers were the culprit.

Generally speaking, Natchez is one of the hybrids that is considered pretty darn resistant. Be sure that you have plenty of room for it, as you know how tall and wide it can get. Trimming the top out of a Natchez ruins it forever in one fell swoop. (Aesthetically speaking)

Here is a link that might be useful: Crape Myrtle information

    Bookmark   December 7, 2005 at 4:26PM
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I love Crepe Myrtles, but you're going to have to deal with honeydew no matter where they're planted. Not a good idea to place them near a patio or parking area unless you love to clean.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2005 at 9:29PM
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Thanks to you all. As for the roots disturbing the foundation of the house, I didn't think that would be a problem, as I've never seen crepe myrtle roots growing above ground like some trees do. The tree would actually be planted in the corner of an "L" of a sidewalk, about 3' wide, and of course, I would eventually brick over the patio right next to it also. I've seen them growing right beside driveways and, of course, sidewalks and parking lots in towns, and they don't seem to cause any problem. Will they?

Well, I still don't know whether to plant it there or not. I know it will get tall and I don't mind that, because, like I said, I need something fairly tall so that I can limb it for the view and it will still be balanced. I would never top it (crepe murder!). :-)

One thing that really bugs me is that when I've searched for information on how tall it will eventually grow, I get conflicting numbers! But I have been thinking that if I need to limb up to about 8 feet, then I would need at least a 24 ft. tree to keep it looking balanced. What do y'all think?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2005 at 12:45PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Natchez will easily reach that size and more over time. However, you need to think of those years you are waiting it to reach the height you need in order to limb it up! Any tree will provide a growing canopy that will block your view to the pond. This tree grows quite rapidly when young, but will slow down as it matures, devoting energy resources on building bulk rather than length. (This is true with most woody plants.)

All trees have their fair share of characteristics that make them imperfect. They ALL shed something at some time!! lol! You need to consider the behavior of this tree all year round and make your decision on the facts. When flowering, crapes are visited heavily by a wide variety of insects, a fact which may bother some people. The flowers also begin to fall like snow when they are done. This can be messy if the trees are planted in a site where that matters.

So, 'splain to my puny brain cells why your tree selection can block your view to the pond for several years, as long as it will attain a certain height at maturity?

You are proposing to install a tree in what we commonly call a 'tree coffin' in business. A 3' square planting space is not sufficient for the long term health of any tree. You could use a non-mortar method of brick placement, which would help create a pervious surface so that the roots would have a chance of growing in a large enough soil volume to support that tree body for many years. Remember, the root system must not only be able to provide all of the water and elements required for growth and development, but physically support the tree as well. Tree roots don't grow deep, but widespread and shallow. Think in terms of pervious soil surface.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2005 at 2:05PM
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Thanks, rhizo, for the extra info. I realize that it will block the view for a few years, although not very much (it will be slightly off to the side), but I don't see any way around that for any tree, do you? And I don't think it would be for long with a fast-growing tree. That's my thinking.

As for the bricks, there would be no mortar...I would just lay them in a bed of sand. And that is also probably a pretty-far-in-the-future proposition, as I would have to do it myself. :-) On the other side of the sidewalk there is plenty of open space for the roots to grow in, also. I just wonder if the Natchez would raise the sidewalk at all with its roots. I've just never seen it happen anywhere else. I don't think anyone addressed this question in any of the answers.

I don't mind the flowers falling, it would be easy to just sweep or blow them off into the open yard, not do insects bother me. I'm thinking I may not even mind the dripping, because it would just drip onto the bricks or sidewalk, no cars. Possibly some patio furniture in the future, but it wouldn't have to sit right under the tree all the time, as there is plenty of room in the courtyard.

If you think the Natchez is a bad idea, could you possibly think of something else to suggest, using the things I said in the first post? I would appreciate it. :-) (Bloodgood Japanese Maple was a thought, but I wasn't sure it would get tall enough or take the afternoon sun it would get.)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 1:08PM
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How about a silverbell?

two-winged silverbell

Here is a link that might be useful: Two-Winged Silverbell (Halesia diptera )

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 9:01PM
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