I recently acquired a couple of Crape myrtles, Lagerstoemia indica, from a grower, this one and a Pokomoke I’m planning to keep for myself. The only thing I’ve done to this specimen since I got it was to take off a large leader in back of the tree (you’ll see where a few photos from now). Today I decided it was time to do some styling – there were numerous shoots coming from the area of the chop, and if I didn’t wire them now the wood would quickly become too stiff for me to do anything about it.
In this photo I’ve done three things: trim the the crown lightly to remove or shorten shoots as needed; remove some dead knobs where pruning has been done before; and put some wire on the lowest left branch. You can see the style of this tree right off the bat. It’s going to be a classic Crape myrtle shape. Isn’t the trunk lovely? Great movement and taper, and of course the nebari and root base is superb..
Here’s a shot from the back of the tree.
This shows you pretty clearly that large chop point I made. There are several shoots emerging from the perimeter of the chop point. This is what I expected and planned for. I’ll be able to wire a couple of leaders off this point, continuing the design..
Now I’ve selected and wired two of the shoots (I’ve already taken off most of the ones I didn’t need). These shoots will thicken some before fall of this year, and next year they’ll really take off.
And here’s a closeup of the chop point. Crape myrtle shoots are unique in that once they begin to swell their shape is square rather than round, and this persists for a short time.
My task is to select and wire two of these shoots, then shape and position them properly so that during next year’s growing season they’ll fill in their part of the crown.
This is a good place for a tip on wiring Crape myrtles. When you go to remove individual leaves, such as those near the base of a branch, you must carefully pull them off directly away from the base. If you don’t do this right, a slender string of green bark tissue will peel off down the branch. This is not necessarily harmful to the tree, but it’s not good technique and frustrate you. So practice, practice, practice.
And the finished styling. I trimmed the crown to shape for today, meaning the amount that would make the tree’s silhouette look as it will once the detailed work is done in the crown. Next spring, a harder pruning needs to be done, followed by a complete wiring of the new growth once it’s out.
The base of this tree measures 4″ above the root crown, and it’s about 28″ tall. The flowers are white. If you’re looking for a large, stunning Crape myrtle specimen for your collection, this tree is available at our Crape Myrtle Bonsai page.