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 Post subject: Crepe Myrtle problem
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 1:14 pm 
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My I have 3 Crepe Myrtles across the back of my back yard that are approximately 15 years old. Two of them are shedding leaves, have some sort of web covering many leaves and have white spots on the branches and down the trunk. The third is now showing signs of the same problem.

Any thoughts on what this is? What can I do about it?


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 Post subject: Re: Crepe Myrtle problem
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 4:17 pm 
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Thanks for including the photos!

The standard approach to solving a problem like that is to look at the health of the plant. Chances are that the bugs and spots came after poor health in the plant. They take advantage of weak plants, move in and take over.

How long ago was this planted, and did you do the planting? Crepe Myrtle are like trees in that they should have a beautiful root flare showing (I think you'll find good photos of roof flares if you search this site). If it was planted too deep, it won't be healthy. It needs to breathe by having the flare exposed. If it was planted straight out of the pot, the roots may have been a tangle and have no way of straightening, they may still be a ball under the plant. And the side of the pot can cause an almost ceramic dry layer that makes it difficult for the plant to ever get enough water.

Take a look around this site for information about planting, and see if this is a problem.

You can do something to remedy it later in the year, after the first frost. You can carefully dig out the extra dirt around it now, and after the frost try digging down on one side (unless it is so small you can pull it out and start over) and untangling the roots is a possibility in a shrub this small. Do the other side later, after it stabilizes in the ground on the first side.

For the problems you're seeing on the leaves and stem, there are various remedies. Foliar feeding helps give the plant nutrients quickly, and is best done early in the morning when the stoma on the underside of each leaf is most open to soaking in nutrients. Using something for mildew, as simple as straight hydrogen peroxide or one of the newer sprays Howard talks about (I haven't used them, so I can't say how they work, but you'll find information about several new products on the market that he is quite pleased with). The aphids on the underside of the leaves will die if you knock them off with a good spray from your nozzle. For some reason this screen is bouncing around so I'll stop here. Good luck, and report back! Do a lot of browsing and use the library for recommendations (see the home page for a link to the Dirt Doctor library).

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 Post subject: Re: Crepe Myrtle problem
PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2009 6:23 pm 
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For now I would spray all surfaces of the plant with milk.

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 Post subject: Re: Crepe Myrtle problem
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:16 am 
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Milk? Can you expand on the benefits of milk in something like this? Is it to remove the bugs or to strengthen the plant? Or simply attract small animals to lick the milk (with bugs) off of the plant? :D

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 Post subject: Re: Crepe Myrtle problem
PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:19 am 
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Good photos but next time include shots of the root flare. Northwesterner is probably right because the tree is in severe stress. What to do is a little bit of a delemma because the tree has scale and that one shot shows a twice stabbed lady beetle eating the scale. The spray solution for the scale is Garrett Juice, Plant Wash and orange oil mix but it will run off the little beetles. Tiz a puzzlement. By the way, milk could be substituted for the Plant Wash. It would be could for us to get a side by side test to see for sure.


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 Post subject: Re: Crepe Myrtle problem
PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2009 8:25 am 
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I'll take some shots of the roots tonight or tomorrow although I don't see how the root flare could be a problem. These trees are 15+ years old and just started doing this last year. What is the black blob with the red dot on it? Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Crepe Myrtle problem
PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:05 pm 
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Side by side testing is always great!!

The value of milk is in feeding the microbes that live on the outside of the plant. Milk is full of food...I should not have to go deep into that. But what people don't think about is the layers of microbes living on the outside of everything, including plants. The microbes on plants work with the plants to make them healthy. I'm 3/4 convinced that healthy plants show up as "invisible" on insect pests' radar. Either that or they are extremely bitter to the insect taste buds. But if the plant is not healthy, then the insects seem to be able to find it and suck the juices out of it.

Malcolm Beck helped solidify this concept in my mind. He showed me three plants in his greenhouse. They were all about 8 inches high in 4-inch pots. They were shoved together so the canopies of the three were all touching. One of the plants had aphids and the other two did not. These plants were in a soil test. One was the control soil (Walmart potting soil) and the other two were the same soil with additives. Since Malcolm is in the composting business, we can assume the other two had compost in them, but there was something else in there that he was testing. Regardless, it seems like a healthy plant comes from healthy soil. Those aphids could have walked to the other plants but they were only on the one plant. I'm not sure what it's telling me but it's telling me something.

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 Post subject: Re: Crepe Myrtle problem
PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:31 am 
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I'm not questioning the possibility of milk having a role here, its just interesting that in all of the years I've been listening to the radio program I've missed any discussion of using milk in any way, shape, or form. We do learn something new everyday!

So tell us, would you get whole milk and put it in a spray bottle or could one use powdered milk? Are any of the canned forms (like evaporated milk or the ultra-sweet condensed variety) going to have a more concentrated in their ability to work? I don't drink milk myself (I've realized through trial and error on myself that I don't tolerate milk well, but I'm okay with cultured dairy products and butter). If there is a preserved form I could use, I could keep a box or cans on the shelf until I need some.

As to the root flare, it can become an issue later, not just immediately after planting. I have a couple of baldcypress planted in 2002 that seemed fine, but then they hit a wall in 2008--evidently something about how big they were or were they were planted or there were other problems (probably bundled up roots) that put them in stress, and then going in and digging out the flare kind of helped them "get their breath," so to speak. They came back much stronger this year and kept their leaves much longer (baldcypress can start to fade before time to lose their leaves, but these have held their own).

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