Crepe myrtles are iconic, vibrant, flowering trees that line the streets of some of the country’s most beautiful neighborhoods. However, these classic Southern trees can become plagues with problems and left with untreated pests or diseases can surely lead to decline and possible death. No witchcraft or voodoo here! Proper care of your crape myrtles can not only enhance the natural beauty this species provides, but also a tree with longevity to be enjoyed for years to come. Our professional MTS arborists have put together a list of common issues so you can catch warning signs early and we can help address issues before it’s too late.
The Top 5 Crepe Myrtle Issues and Some Treatment Methods
The most common problems we see with crape myrtle can be “crape MURDER”, some leaf diseases, like powdery mildew, crape myrtle bark scale, aphids, and beetles.
1. Crape Murder
A common practice is to prune crape myrtles back very far because many feel this increases the magnificent flowers. While pruning can encourage more blooms, care must be taken for proper pruning at the right time of the season.
Pruning crape myrtles right after bloom is the most recommended pruning time and proper pruning methods are encouraged to alleviate any stress the tree then experiences.
Trees can experience stress?
Yes, they do and whether related to weather conditions, lack of or too much rain, poor pruning or poor soils and more, these issues all cause stress to the tree. Stressors encourage pests and disease to become more prevalent when this occurs in many cases.
2. Cercospora Leaf Spots
Cercospora leaf spots are yellow spots on the top of crepe myrtle leaves caused by fungus spores that grow underneath. This disease occurs during warm, humid months and can cause crepe myrtles to lose their leaves prematurely.
3. Aphid Infestations
Crepe myrtle aphids only feed on crepe myrtles, making this a common but significant problem for many crepe myrtle owners. These aphids are yellow-green with black spots. They extract the sap from the crepe myrtle leaves, leaving yellow spots and a sticky liquid that attracts mold, fungi, and other insects.
MTS professional PHC specialists will apply appropriate products at best times to minimize the damage aphid infestations can begin to cause within your tree.
4. Japanese Beetle Infestations
Japanese beetles can damage crepe myrtle trees from above and below ground. These brown beetles with metallic green heads feed on crepe myrtle leaves while their larvae typically feed on turfgrass roots. They’re typically active from May to August and leave signs of damage on the leaves.
MTS professional PHC specialists have organic and synthetic options to minimize adult leaf feeding beetles that skeletonize your tree’s leaves making it unsightly.
5. Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale
Crepe myrtle bark scale is a relatively new problem for crepe myrtles in the United States. This pest was recently introduced by way of Asia and looks like gray scales coating the tree branches. Bark scale damages the tree and can cause stress to the tree which can cause decline and possibly death.
MTS Professional PHC specialists have many options for minimizing this pest population and can help provide the best option.
Break the Crepe Myrtle Curse
As you can see, many diseases can affect a crepe myrtle’s health. However, don’t let that stop you from enjoying all the beauty this majestic tree offers! The secret to breaking the crepe myrtle curse is prevention and early detection. For example, many crepe myrtle issues are caused by planting locations. Start your crepe myrtle off on the right foot by selecting sunny spots with good airflow and low moisture rates. Also, make sure to maintain your crepe myrtles with regular tree trimming and pruning. Cutting away infected branches early can save the entire tree from a growth stunting disease.
Schedule a free tree assessment with our expert arborist today to see how your crepe myrtles are doing. Breaking the crepe myrtle curse is just a free estimate away!
However, these classic Southern trees can become plagues with problems and left with untreated pests or diseases can surely lead to decline and possible death. No witchcraft or voodoo here! Proper care of your crape myrtles can not only enhance the natural beauty this species provides, but also a tree with longevity to be enjoyed for years to come. Our professional MTS arborists have put together a list of common issues so you can catch warning signs early and we can help address issues before it’s too late.