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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Crape Myrtle Propagation by Cuttings

One of the great flowering summer trees of the south is the crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica). They typically grow well in zones 6-9 (Tennessee generally falls in the zone 6 area with a few areas in the 7). One of the growing traits of a crape myrtle that makes them good for propagating by cuttings is their ability to sucker. On a crape myrtle the phrase "there's a sucker born every minute" really applies! They are extremely fast growers which also is another good characteristic for easy propagation. This is my first attempt at propagating the crapes but I can conclude that they are easy enough for anyone with a little knowledge at propagating by cuttings to succeed.

In the picture above there are three crape myrtle cuttings that rooted successfully. I have several more cuttings in the garage that I accidentally pulled the roots off of when I tried to remove them from their container but I came close to 100% success. Those cuttings may re-root if left alone for a little while.

Here's How I Propagate Crape Myrtles:

  1. I took several suckers from an established crape myrtle that is around 15-20 feet tall. It's a tree form crape myrtle, which I prefer over the shrub-like form that is a result of improper pruning (i.e. crape murder). I tried to cut each stem cutting just below a node. The node contains the auxins that are necessary for root production.
  2. I used rooting hormone on the cut ends then stuck them in sand and watered.
  3. Then I waited and watched. I watched for new growth to form from the buds above the sand.
  4. Once the stems had some budding on them I pulled gently on the cutting . If there was resistance it probably had roots. To remove the cuttings from the sand use a spoon, fork, or other small utensil to pry it up from underneath.
  5. I potted them up and put the cuttings back that needed more time.

That's all there is to it. Crape myrtles are great flowering trees for your landscape and have awesome fall colors. Now you can make a few for yourself for next to nothing!


On a side note, sometimes crape myrtles will root in water!


Here are some other posts on propagating plants:





14 comments :

  1. I did these last summer. Thought it was really not worth it as the trouble it put me thru was more than I wanted. Especially when a friend came and saw them and said, "Much easier to start from seed." Okay. I haven't tried that method yet but may. Good luck!

    I taught my plant propagation class on Tuesday. Not many people there but I did show your link and folks were busily writing it down. This is definitely the place to get good cutting info.

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  2. Dave,
    You are certainly a dedicated propagator...and you get plants on the cheap, too.

    Gail

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  3. You are so good at this procedure Dave!

    I noticed today while in town that some myrtles are starting to bloom! Mine are yet to open up but they are usually slower to open then most that I see around town... The Crepe Myrtle is one of my favorite blooming trees...

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  4. Tina,

    I think I'd rather do them from cuttings. It really seems easy and fast. I did get one to sprout from seed over the winter. I think the cuttings rooted faster.

    Thanks Gail! The cheaper the plants the better in my world.

    Skeeter,

    It sure is a good favorite to have. There are small ones and large one's available. I like the larger tree form best.

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  5. I bought 2 small trees year before last and my dog ate them. There was nothing left but the root. One came up last year but did not get leaves this spring so my husband mowed it down. Now it is growing way better than last year. I think they are so pretty.

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  6. The best reason to root cuttings rather than grow crepe myrtles from seed is that a rooted cutting is genetically identical to the parent plant, so you know what you're getting. A seedling could be a different color and shape.

    And now for your next project, Dave. Show everybody how to root mimosas!

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  7. Grumpy,

    That's true they are, but is it really better? The different color and shape could be pretty neat! I like rooting because (for me) it's more reliable than the seedlings.

    As for propagating mimosas I'll leave that to someone else!

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  8. I like your blog. It's nice and full of good information. Very inspiring! I've been a Nursery man for many years, but started to blog just recently. So, I have a lot to learn. And yes, the Crape Myrtle is a very nice plant and easy to grow. I used to root the Crape Myrtle using cel-packs like jumbo packs, and I was pretty succesful with them. Sand is good for rooting especialy in metal trays. Insteed of sand I'm using ground pine bark, when I'm rooting just e few. When it is rooted, the roots come out through the holes on the bottom. They are very nice in both, tree form or multi-trunk.

    This is my first visit to your blog, and I enjoy reading your posts. I'll be back soon.

    Thanks,
    Mike

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  9. Thanks Mike! I'll have to try the ground pine bark. Welcome to blogging!

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  10. I have 3 dwarf crape myrtles across the front of my yard near a flower bed and since last summer I have gotten 6 starter crape myrtles from the flower bed. How is this possible?

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  11. Hi Anonymous,

    Two things may have happened. The most likely is that they went to seed and you have some new seedlings growing. The second is that the root system sent up a sucker away from the plant. If you moved the plants and they were not attached to your first plant then are probably from seed. Extra plants are always a nice find!

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  12. i've gotten permission to take some cuttings from a neighbor's crape myrtles i've been drooling over for years (tree form, gorgeous colors). when is the best time of year to take cuttings? it's the beginning of winter here in central texas and the crape myrtles have lost their leaves. can i do it now, or should i wait? love your blog! thank you!

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  13. Hi Anon!

    You could try a few right now from hardwood cuttings. Just be sure not to let them leaf out until they have rooted well (don't bring them indoors just yet). Try a pot outside and cover them with a milk jug or put them in a sheltered location and they might root for you fine. If that doesn't work you can take many, many cuttings in the late spring through summer! You probably get a few frosts here and there so you may not even need the milk jugs, just keep something handy to cover them when needed or try them in a garage. Good luck!

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  14. I'm interested in crepe cuttings. Just a few questions, how big of a cutting can you root (diameter and length), and what will be the growth rate ?

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Dave

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