TX Organic Research Center



Don't whack big pieces off the crape myrtles
February 24, 2006
By Howard Garrett


QUESTION: I have three 20-foot-tall crape myrtle trees in my back yard. Do I have to prune them? I trim the low branches and suckers, but I like my trees tall. However, everyone tells me that I should cut them back because that's what they see other people doing. That doesn't seem like a valid reason to me. Also, can I add more dirt and compost on top of the roots? Some of the crape myrtle roots are on the soil surface. M.M., Dallas

ANSWER: The people who are giving you advice on pruning don't know what they are talking about. Crape myrtles should not be heavily pruned. Even the dry seed pods are decorative and provide food for birds. Having the root flare and some of the roots showing is a good thing. Most crape myrtles are planted too low in the ground. Do not add soil over the root zone.

QUESTION: My husband and I have property in Mena, Ark., where we are planning to build a house. The site is on top of a hill and is very rocky. The trees surrounding the site include oaks, hickories and pines. We will be using a septic tank, but the washing machine and the bathroom sinks won't drain into the septic tank. They will drain into a pipe that expels waste water in the forest. Will this drainage of soapy water kill the trees close to the drain pipe? S.E., Dallas

ANSWER: Yes, there will be damage. Soaps and cleaners, especially when concentrated, damage and even kill beneficial microorganisms in the soil. The constant wetness also will damage tree roots. I hope you have another alternative.

QUESTION: We purchased a house in September. The previous owner planted pennyroyal in the shady side yard, where it has flourished. I don't want pennyroyal because I consider it too dangerous for a yard where children play. I would like to replace the pennyroyal with mint, but how can I make sure I've eliminated the pennyroyal? L.C., Arlington

ANSWER: Pennyroyal has a distinctive fragrance and should be easy to identify. If we ever have a real winter, freezing temperatures should kill it.

I recently acquired an azalea bush from my mother's funeral. I would like to plant it, but I have heard that azaleas are difficult to grow in North Texas. K.K., Sherman

ANSWER: Plant the azalea in a large pot backfilled with an equal mix of compost, coconut fiber and expanded shale. Make sure bound roots are cut or pulled apart and that the root ball is sopping wet before planting. Use my Garrett Juice formula as a natural root stimulator (see Resources to obtain instructions).

QUESTION: Any suggestions on how to rid planting beds of moss without harming other plants or upsetting the soil balance? S.C., Leland, N.C.

ANSWER: Vinegar sprays will kill moss, but don't spray plants you hope to keep. Moss likes moist areas. I like moss unless it is causing a waste of water; there's no need to kill it.


   A burning question on lawns
   A Monster's Growing Under Our Deck!
   About oak sprouts
   After exposing tree’s root flare, leave it alone
   Ailing from harsh summer, crabapple needs treatment
   All we are saying is give trees a chance
   Amount of tilling, not method, is what matters.
   An organic option to control the fleas
   An unwelcome bug is eating ornamental plants
   Antique, container roses are sweeter
   Ants have invaded pots of peppers
   Any way to help heal injured tree?
   Apple and pear trees need little pruning
   Are gnats hanging out on your houseplants? There's hope
   Are mushrooms bad for my yard?
   Are tree galls troublesome?
   Asps won't hurt plants 9-01-2006
   Attracting Birds To The Garden, Composting, Sprayers
   Azalea beds may be incorrectly done
   Baby talc marches against ants
   Bag the worm problem to save tree
   Bald cypress going brown
   Bald cypress roots expose themselves.
Printable Version | Back to Top

Dr Ohirras
Organic Club of America

H A N N A H ' S    M A R K E T P L A C E

Send this website to a friend Make this website your home page