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!
Crape myrtles 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. (Look here for more Plant Propagation Information and for Resources for Plant Propagation)
Here’s How I Propagate Crape Myrtles:
- 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.
- I used rooting hormone on the cut ends then stuck them in sand and watered.
- Then I waited and watched. I watched for new growth to form from the buds above the sand.
- 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.
- 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!