crape myrtle - 4 years in training

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crape myrtle - 4 years in training

Post  MrFancyPlants on Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:54 pm

This guy is due for a repot this spring. Growth was not as vigorous this year as last. When I repotted spring of '09 I scored around the trunk and put rooting hormone on it, but I am not sure if it took. If not, I will apply a tourniquet and more hormone this coming spring. I am really tempted to bring this in for the winter based on Peter Chan's general bonsai book. I know that crape's are evergreen in warmer climates. Although, then I would miss the fall colors.

Last fall's photo:


Current photo:


Deadwood?... I think I'll let it rot unless someone has any better ideas:


Thank you,
Dave


Last edited by MrFancyPlants on Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:18 pm; edited 3 times in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Re: crape myrtle - 4 years in training

Post  Russell Coker on Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:07 pm

Dave,

I have no idea what Peter Chan's book says about crape myrtles, but I can tell you that they are some of the best fall color we have on the Gulf Coast - and are 100% deciduous. I can't speak for south Florida and what that climate does to them, but winter dormancy is part of their cycle.

Personally, I don't see that little deadwood spur adding much to the design of a crape myrtle.

R

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Re: crape myrtle - 4 years in training

Post  MrFancyPlants on Sun Aug 21, 2011 10:03 pm

I agree that the deadwood is not adding much. Do you think I should try to hollow out the dead wood or crush it to induce rot?

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Re: crape myrtle - 4 years in training

Post  Russell Coker on Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:58 pm

I don't think I'd do either. I'd cut it back smooth and encourage the live bark to cover over that spot and seal it completely. In my area that would take a couple of months worth of summer growth.

Are crape myrtles not common garden and street trees in your area? When you mentioned you are "really tempted to bring this in for the winter based on Peter Chan's general bonsai book", what did you mean by that? What do you hope to accomplish?

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Re: crape myrtle - 4 years in training

Post  MrFancyPlants on Mon Aug 22, 2011 1:12 am

I've had good success with Mediterranean and tropical plants indoors for the winter. I was thinking that bringing it in for the winter may give it a head start on spring since in Peter Chan's book he says in regards to Lagerstroemia indica - "This is really a tropical tree and should be kept indoors for winter" I know that most plants hate being indoors, and right now I have 0 plants indoors because they are much happier outside. And I also know that this crape could be a different species or a hybrid that would have a greater dormancy requirement.
Oh well, I am probably running out of room for my indoor plants in the winter since I picked up a willow leaf ficus, some coffee plants, 2 benjimina airlayers, an olive tree, a Jasmin and a bay leaf tree that I've had for a few years. Oh yeah and a Casuarina that is a new recruit from the potomac bonsai festival. I am skeptical how the Casurina will enjoy indoor life for the winter, but I have a feeling the crape would be fine.

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Re: crape myrtle - 4 years in training

Post  Russell Coker on Mon Aug 22, 2011 2:24 am

Well, Peter Chan needs to get his facts straight. Lagerstroemia indica is NOT a tropical tree. Sub-tropical? Maybe, but not tropical in the real sense of the word. But I suppose that changes with regards to where you're coming from. It's hardy to zone 7, and yes, is probably happiest closer to the coast the farther north you go. Like I said before, they appreciate a cold dormancy. I guess you could grow it indoors as a tropical like a ficus, but why would you if you don't have to? A little cold frame protection is all they should need.

You'd be better off looking at what's going on around you and spending less time reading books about how to take care of plants on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, especially when it comes to something as common as Crape myrtles in the South. I'll bet your tree is an L. indica x fauriei hybrid judging by the leaf shape and the fall color. That may change the hardiness some, but probably not enough to matter.

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Re: crape myrtle - 4 years in training

Post  Oliver Muscio on Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:57 am

Russell,
I am in zone 6 (6b at last report...) and I agree with you. Although crape myrtles need some protection against freezing temperature, I keep mine in an unheated shed and their soil freezes pretty much solid in our coldest weather. They come back just fine in the spring as I bring them out and they breack dormancy. I can't imagine the advantage of keeping them indoors and preventing dormancy.
Oliver

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Re: crape myrtle - 4 years in training

Post  Russell Coker on Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:23 pm

There was a huge, old crape myrtle at the Bonsai Park where I lived in Kanuma. It was the old, red, common indica. In the winters the ground froze solid, we sometimes had knee-deep snow and I could walk across the koi pond.

The Japanese have 2 really cool names for cm's - one is "monkey slide" and the other is "100 days red".

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Re: crape myrtle - 4 years in training

Post  MrFancyPlants on Tue Aug 23, 2011 3:20 pm

Thank you for the input. I will keep it outdoors and bury the pot for the winter(no cold frame available). Now that I think back on the possible subliminal stimuli that put the bug in my head to keep it indoors over winter, the probable cause was two winters ago when it leafed out nearly a month later than the big brothers in the courtyard. However, I believe that problem was solved when I slowly upgraded to a modern substrate. This one does need to be re potted again this spring though.


Last edited by MrFancyPlants on Tue Aug 23, 2011 4:16 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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