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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - March 05, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Planting, Pruning, Trees
Title: pruning crape myrtle (ugh, non-native)
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

We would like to plant a Dynamite Crape myrtle in front of our front window. They grow 20' to 30'. Can I trim it each year to about 15' to 20'? Should we plant it approximately 5 feet from the house foundation? We are members of the LBJ Wildflower center. Thank you

ANSWER:

I love crape myrtles, but they are out of our normal expertise, being non-native.  However, I know that they can be kept at a height of 15 feet by an annual pruning, since they bloom on branches grown out new each year.  If the tree is only pruned every 2-3 years it begins to look quite knobby at the pruning point and is, in my opinion, ugly.  So pruning every winter will retain a natural look.  I would suggest planting it at least 6-8 feet from the house, as the diameter of a 15 foot tree can be almost 10 feet, as indicated in this Internet site.

 

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