How to care for a myrtle shrub

Holly shrub. image by LiteWave from

The crape myrtle tree comes in dwarf, mid-size and large varieties, offering gardeners a wide selection of colours and sizes for their landscaping needs. These evergreen shrubs offer long-bloom periods beginning in midsummer and lasting well into the autumn. Myrtle shrubs bloom best in sunny terrains. They are hardy, easy to care for and can be planted singly or as a foundational planting surrounding your home.

Plant a myrtle shrub where it will receive full to nearly-full sunlight upon well drained soil. Leave plenty of space around the plant to encourage fresh air movement. Sunlight and air space will help reduce the risk of powdery mildew disease in myrtle shrubs.

Apply organic mulch materials as needed throughout the year in depths of one to two inches from the trunk of the shrub to the length of its outside branches to help retain moisture in the soil.

Fertilise myrtle shrubs lightly with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) fertiliser in late February or early March. Use a fertiliser with a 3-1-2 ratio of NPK beginning at the feeder roots and spreading from the drip line to halfway toward the trunk of the shrub. Do not use inorganic fertilisers near the trunk of the myrtle shrub, and avoid any fertilisers that contain herbicides.

Water your myrtle shrubs well during dry spells, watering more frequently the first two years of the plant's growth. Allow the shrub to dry out for several days in between light waterings, soaking roots well every two to three weeks during hot spells.

Prune sparingly, only removing cross branches and twigs or dead growth to add airflow around the shrub and to strengthen larger branches. Avoid pruning late in the autumn, as this can promote new growth that will die during cooler temperatures.

Combat sooty mould fungus, a common occurrence with myrtle shrubs, by spraying the plant leaves regularly with water to deter aphids and adding or encouraging natural predators of the aphid such as lace wings and ladybirds. Wash branches where sooty mould appears with water mixed in a quart sprayer with two drops of dish soap; rinse thoroughly with plain water.

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