Can you root crape myrtle suckers? I have two shoots coming out of a whip I planted this past winter that may be suckers, and I was wondering if I should try to root them. Also, what is the best way to remove them from the tree? I've read that tearing them from the trunk is the best way, but do not want to damage the tree.
Hardiness Zone: 9a
Abigail from Orlando, FL
Yes. Crepe myrtles are easily propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings or young suckers. There is no need to tear them from the tree, though, that's generally a technique reserved for folks trying to eliminate suckers, as it is thought to limit their chances of re-sprouting.
Summer is a great time for rooting cuttings. Young, semi-hardwood suckers work best. Remove them cleanly from the base of the parent plant, leaving three to four nodes per cutting and several leaves. Dip the cut ends into some rooting hormone and insert the cuttings several inches deep into a pot filled with a 50/50 mix of sand and peat or a similar type of lightweight mix. The cuttings should be kept moist for the next three to four weeks while they develop roots. I would recommend placing the pots in the shade, misting them regularly, and adding a few inches of mulch around the base of the cuttings to help conserve moisture.
If you prefer to root the cuttings directly in the ground, prepare your cutting beds (preferably in the shade) by loosening up the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches, and mixing in a bit of well-rotted compost or peat moss into the soil. Dip the cuttings in rooting hormone and insert them into the soil in the same way you would if you were using pots.
After four to five weeks (maybe even sooner), the cuttings should have developed sufficient roots and can be transplanted to a permanent location in the garden. You can test the cuttings for roots by pulling on them gently. If you feel a bit of resistance, it is probably the result of roots.
About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.
I never tried to actively root crepe myrtles but I've been successful in replanting the 'volunteer' shoots that come up around the shrub. I'm in zone 7 and there always seems to be plenty of extras.
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