oklahoma city

Crape Myrtle - Summer's Biggest Show!

June Crape Myrtle.jpg

This week marked the longest day of the year, the first day of summer, and the start of Crape Myrtle season. 

Most blooming trees and shrubs last for only a few days or a couple of weeks.  But the crape myrtle holds the distinction of being our longest blooming shrub or tree.  Typically, the crape myrtle starts adding color to the landscape in mid-June and doesn’t stop until the first frost.  This year, due to the cooler than normal start to the summer, the crape myrtle hasn’t started to put on their summer show yet but will in the next couple of weeks.   

This past week, I was fortunate to spend a few days in Charleston, South Carolina, the first place the French planted crape myrtles in the United States.  One of our favorite activities of the week was a morning walk through Charleston’s crape myrtle lined streets. 

There are over 50 varieties of crape myrtles and new ones are introduced every year.  They are found throughout the southern US and perform well anywhere south of USDA zone 6. 

Crape myrtle Sizes    Standard Crape Myrtles  - When allowed to grow as a small tree will reach up to 25’ in our region and require little maintenance. Simply remove any dead wood from the tips of the branches in the spring and let the plant go for the season. They can be grown as a single trunk or a multitrunked tree.   Semi-dwarf Crape Myrtles  - Typically grow 8-12’ tall and make an excellent colorful screen when grown in a row.   Dwarf Crape Myrtles  - Grow only 2-4’ tall, are small and mounding, and ideal for a landscape bed where you want a splash of summer color.  Selecting the right sized plant is important. Crape myrtles are at their best when they can grow to their natural shape and size. Constant pruning on the wrong size plant to keep it in a space it was not meant to fit will reduce the summer blooms.

Crape myrtle Sizes

Standard Crape Myrtles - When allowed to grow as a small tree will reach up to 25’ in our region and require little maintenance. Simply remove any dead wood from the tips of the branches in the spring and let the plant go for the season. They can be grown as a single trunk or a multitrunked tree.

Semi-dwarf Crape Myrtles - Typically grow 8-12’ tall and make an excellent colorful screen when grown in a row.

Dwarf Crape Myrtles - Grow only 2-4’ tall, are small and mounding, and ideal for a landscape bed where you want a splash of summer color.

Selecting the right sized plant is important. Crape myrtles are at their best when they can grow to their natural shape and size. Constant pruning on the wrong size plant to keep it in a space it was not meant to fit will reduce the summer blooms.

Crape Myrtle Colors – The color pallet ranges from white, pink, purple and red.  Bloom color is not the only attribute of a crape myrtle.  Their foliage ranges from dark green, wine colored, velvet and dark purple. The combination of the bloom and foliage colors is one of the things that attracts me to the plant.

I am most fond of the large, full sized, tree formed crapemyrtles.  It is hard to narrow my list of favorite crapemyrtles, and my list often changes, but these are just a few of my current favorites:

Pink Velour  – Large 12-15’ small tree form with dark wine foliage and bright pink flowers. The foliage and flower combination are very striking.

Pink Velour – Large 12-15’ small tree form with dark wine foliage and bright pink flowers. The foliage and flower combination are very striking.

Dynamite  – Also a small tree that grows up to 15’. Dynamite was one of the first red tree form varieties. New foliage is nearly crimson in color and changes to a rich green as it matures. Flowers are brilliant red.

Dynamite – Also a small tree that grows up to 15’. Dynamite was one of the first red tree form varieties. New foliage is nearly crimson in color and changes to a rich green as it matures. Flowers are brilliant red.

Natchez  – One of the largest tree form crape myrtles reaching 25’. Foliage is rich green, and flowers are white. The cinnamon brown bark puts on a show of its own as it exfoliates.

Natchez – One of the largest tree form crape myrtles reaching 25’. Foliage is rich green, and flowers are white. The cinnamon brown bark puts on a show of its own as it exfoliates.

Ebony Flame  – A great accent plant that grows 10-12’ with dark red blooms on intense black foliage.

Ebony Flame – A great accent plant that grows 10-12’ with dark red blooms on intense black foliage.

One of the nation’s leading innovators of crape myrtles is Oklahoma’s own, Dr. Carl Whitcomb. Dr. Whitcomb holds 32 patents and has authored five books including Know It and Grow It, a book every landscape enthusiast should own. You can see all of Dr. Whitcomb’s crape myrtles by following this link: http://drcarlwhitcomb.com/Patented_Plants.html

Crape Myrtle Bark  – One of the most overlooked aspects of the plant is the bark. The bark is smooth and ranges in color from pink to gray. As the plant matures, the thin bark exfoliates to expose a different color underneath. Too often, tree form crape myrtles are severely pruned every spring and we never get to enjoy the beautiful bark of the mature plant.

Crape Myrtle Bark – One of the most overlooked aspects of the plant is the bark. The bark is smooth and ranges in color from pink to gray. As the plant matures, the thin bark exfoliates to expose a different color underneath. Too often, tree form crape myrtles are severely pruned every spring and we never get to enjoy the beautiful bark of the mature plant.

Crape Myrtle Fall Color  – Another overlooked characteristic of the plant is the fall color. Varieties range from yellow to red. Much of our fall color is found in larger trees. Crape myrtles add fall color to the landscape below the color of the large trees.

Crape Myrtle Fall Color – Another overlooked characteristic of the plant is the fall color. Varieties range from yellow to red. Much of our fall color is found in larger trees. Crape myrtles add fall color to the landscape below the color of the large trees.

I would challenge anyone to find another plant that offers so many features to the landscape.  From the long bloom, the variety of colors, the many shapes and sizes, and the addition of exfoliating bark and good fall color, you can’t deny the crape myrtle a place in your landscape.

Lorne Hall

Hall Stewart Lawn + Landscape

June Lawn & Landscape Tips

June Lawn & Landscape TIps.jpg

Late May into early June is typically the turning point for your summer loving landscapes.  By the first of June, warm season turfs are looking great, shrubs and trees are full of foliage, and summer annual color plantings are bursting with brilliant color. With all the excess moisture in May, in Oklahoma this June should be great for our landscapes!

June is the month all your lawn and landscape activities finally settle into a predictable routine. Here are a few things to be thinking about:

Mowing –  For the best summer turf get into a routine of mowing often enough that you only remove a third of the leaf blade with each mowing.  For bermuda and zoyia, both warm season turf grasses, this may require mowing every 4 to 5 days.  If you can mow this often, don’t bag your clippings.  The top third of the grass leaf is 90% moisture and nutrients.  The best summer height for warm season turf is 1.5 – 2.5”.  Fescue, cool season turf grass, will continue to grow rapidly during early June but once we consistently have temperatures in the upper 90’s it will begin to slow down.  The best height for cool season turf in the summer is 2.5 – 3.5”.  Both warm season and cool season turfs, don’t respond well to being cut below their recommended height. Cutting the lawn too short discourages root development and having deep roots going into the summer heat is important for both warm and cool season turf.

Mowing – For the best summer turf get into a routine of mowing often enough that you only remove a third of the leaf blade with each mowing.  For bermuda and zoyia, both warm season turf grasses, this may require mowing every 4 to 5 days.  If you can mow this often, don’t bag your clippings.  The top third of the grass leaf is 90% moisture and nutrients.  The best summer height for warm season turf is 1.5 – 2.5”.  Fescue, cool season turf grass, will continue to grow rapidly during early June but once we consistently have temperatures in the upper 90’s it will begin to slow down.  The best height for cool season turf in the summer is 2.5 – 3.5”.  Both warm season and cool season turfs, don’t respond well to being cut below their recommended height. Cutting the lawn too short discourages root development and having deep roots going into the summer heat is important for both warm and cool season turf.

Fertilizer – Bermuda lawns should be fertilized this month with a higher nitrogen, slow release fertilizer.  The goal in June is to create a healthy bermuda lawn that will thrive in the summer heat.  Fescue lawns should only receive low nitrogen, organic, root stimulating fertilizer during June to prepare them for the summer.

Weed Control –  If you subscribe to  Hall | Stewart’s Lawn Care Programs  and have not skipped any applications this year, you have received two spring pre-emergent applications.  This has given you a good barrier to prevent summer annual grassy weeds.  But, if not, you may have some grassy weeds, most commonly, crabgrass, showing up in your lawn.  June is a good month to control grassy weeds while they are still young plants.  Once they mature, stronger products will need to be used which can cause turf damage.  If nutsedge is making an appearance in your lawn, it is best  not  to pull it.  When you pull nutsedge and do not remove the nut below the surface, the plant becomes stressed and multiplies. 

Weed Control – If you subscribe to Hall | Stewart’s Lawn Care Programs and have not skipped any applications this year, you have received two spring pre-emergent applications.  This has given you a good barrier to prevent summer annual grassy weeds.  But, if not, you may have some grassy weeds, most commonly, crabgrass, showing up in your lawn.  June is a good month to control grassy weeds while they are still young plants.  Once they mature, stronger products will need to be used which can cause turf damage.  If nutsedge is making an appearance in your lawn, it is best not to pull it.  When you pull nutsedge and do not remove the nut below the surface, the plant becomes stressed and multiplies. 

Tree & Shrub Care –  Start watching for spider mites.  If you notice pale and specked foliage, shake the leaves over a white sheet of paper.  If you see tiny specks that start to move, you have spider mites and should schedule a treatment.  Also, be on the watch for bagworms on needle evergreens. With all insect and disease issues, we subscribe to an integrated pest management approach.  With our Tree & Shrub Program, we inspect for these issues with each visit.  Most problems are easier to control the earlier you notice them.  If you notice any issues with your plants, please let us know.

Tree & Shrub Care – Start watching for spider mites.  If you notice pale and specked foliage, shake the leaves over a white sheet of paper.  If you see tiny specks that start to move, you have spider mites and should schedule a treatment.  Also, be on the watch for bagworms on needle evergreens. With all insect and disease issues, we subscribe to an integrated pest management approach.  With our Tree & Shrub Program, we inspect for these issues with each visit.  Most problems are easier to control the earlier you notice them.  If you notice any issues with your plants, please let us know.

Watering –  This may be one of the most misunderstood aspects of landscape management.  May was very wet…too wet.  Currently, soil moisture is enough for mature lawns, shrubs, and trees. If you have new plantings, or annual color, you may need to water.  Develop the practice of watering based only on need.  Anytime we go a week without receiving a 1” of rainfall, start watering.  When you walk on the lawn, if grass doesn’t spring back up, start watering.  Remember, deep soakings are always better than short, frequent watering.  Shallow, frequent watering results in lawns with less roots and more dependent on water.   

Watering – This may be one of the most misunderstood aspects of landscape management.  May was very wet…too wet.  Currently, soil moisture is enough for mature lawns, shrubs, and trees. If you have new plantings, or annual color, you may need to water.  Develop the practice of watering based only on need.  Anytime we go a week without receiving a 1” of rainfall, start watering.  When you walk on the lawn, if grass doesn’t spring back up, start watering.  Remember, deep soakings are always better than short, frequent watering.  Shallow, frequent watering results in lawns with less roots and more dependent on water.   

Mulch  – Add mulch to your landscape plantings this month.  A 2” layer of mulch will retain moisture, cool the soil, and reduce weed germination.  We prefer premium shredded all bark cedar mulch because it doesn’t float as much and aesthetically looks great.  For acid loving plants such as hydrangeas and azaleas, pecan hulls or pine bark mulch is a great choice. 

Mulch – Add mulch to your landscape plantings this month.  A 2” layer of mulch will retain moisture, cool the soil, and reduce weed germination.  We prefer premium shredded all bark cedar mulch because it doesn’t float as much and aesthetically looks great.  For acid loving plants such as hydrangeas and azaleas, pecan hulls or pine bark mulch is a great choice. 

Brown Patch – Be on the look out for brown patch in your fescue lawn.  Anytime nighttime temperatures are 70 plus and the turf remains damp for over 6 hours at a time, brown patch will develop. Areas where there is little air movement and/or heavy shade are more prone because the turf stays wet longer.  Brown patch will make the lawn appear it needs more water, but watering will just make it worse.  So, before you water more, think about the site, the amount of shade, the air movement in the area, and the amount of moisture the area has received.  The best thing you can do if this problem occurs is to stop watering.

Aeration – Mechanical aeration is a “best” practice for any lawn.  Aeration reduces soil compaction, promotes root development, and thickens the turf.  May and June are the best months to aerate bermuda.  This one practice will make a big difference in the quality of your turf.  The stronger the turf, the less weed problems you will experience.

Insects  – Regularly scheduled treatments for fleas & ticks, mosquitos, and perimeter insect control around your house should continue during the summer.  The goal is to make outdoor living for your family, friends, and pets the best possible.

Insects – Regularly scheduled treatments for fleas & ticks, mosquitos, and perimeter insect control around your house should continue during the summer.  The goal is to make outdoor living for your family, friends, and pets the best possible.

Tree Trim – Early summer is a good time to do minor tree trimming.  If you have tree branches that are hanging a little lower now that they are full of foliage, go ahead and remove them this month. 

 Get outside and enjoy your landscape this month! 

We look forward to every opportunity to visit your lawn and landscape! If you have any questions, please send us an email or call (405)367-3873.

Lorne Hall

Hall | Stewart Lawn + Landscape