Growing Crape Myrtles From Cuttings
Propagation of crape myrtles can be accomplished in several ways, but hardwood cuttings and softwood cuttings are the preferred methods. Growing crape myrtles from cuttings is very easy to do. Simply follow the methods below.
- Sometime in November, when crape myrtles have gone dormant and lost all their leaves, start by cutting off a 2 to 6 foot long branch. Then cut these branches into 6 to 8 inch cuttings that are about 1/2 inch in diameter, give or take a little. Make your cuts just below a leaf node/bud along the branch.
- Plant the cuttings in 1-gallon pots filled with a good potting mix or directly into well-prepared beds, with leaf buds pointing up. I prefer planting in pots rather than in beds. Beds or pots should be in a sunny outdoor location. Plant cuttings to a depth where only 1 to 2 inches of the cutting will be above the soil. Depending upon whether you want a single or multi trunk crape myrtle, stick one to three cuttings in the soil. These cuttings can be left outside but should be protected during severe freezes by wrapping or by moving them into an outdoor enclosed structure such as a garage.
- When foliage begins to emerge in spring place the containers in a sunny location and water enough to keep the soil damp.
- When the new roots have spread throughout the container you can plant them into garden beds.
Alternative Method for Dormant Season Hardwood Cuttings
- Cut several 2 to 6 foot dormant branches of the same variety. Bundle these together with the bottom end facing the same direction and label as to variety. Also mark the bottom of the branches as cuttings that are inserted upside-down will not root.
- Pack the bundles in sawdust or dry peat moss in a cool, dry location.
- Remove the bundles in early spring and cut the sticks into 6 to 8 inch cuttings.
- Plant the cuttings into 1-gallon pots filled with a good potting soil mix or directly into well-prepared beds, with leaf buds pointing up. I prefer planting in pots rather than in beds. Beds or pots should be in a sunny outdoor location. Depending upon whether you want a single or multi trunk crape myrtle, stick one to three cuttings down in the soil so that only 1 to 2 inches of the cutting is above the soil.
- When roots have formed or filled the pot you can transplant into garden beds.
- During the first year, provide sufficient water to keep the garden soil from completely drying out.
Softwood cutting are those taken from new growth that is green and soft. This new growth is at the tips of the branches.
- Take 4 to 6 inch softwood cuttings from the ends of the stems, where new growth is green and soft. Make your cut just below a leaf node. The leaf node (pictured right) is a small swelling that is part of the plant stem from which a leaf emerges. Cuttings can be taken at any time during the active growth season, however, sometime between late May and Mid-June is best, when summer growth of the crape myrtle is most vigorous. Softwood cuttings taken in early summer will have plenty of time to get established before the winter dormant season. Avoid taking softwood cuttings after July.
- After making your cutting remove the leaves from the bottoms of the cuttings leaving a couple of leaves on the top of each cutting.
- After removing leaves, dip the cutting in rooting hormone powder and then plant into 4 inch containers or trays filled with the potting mix. If you are rooting several varieties of crape myrtle make sure to tag or label cuttings as to their variety.
- Place the cuttings in an area of high humidity or under a greenhouse in bright light. Mist cuttings regularly and keep the soil damp to avoid drying out before roots can form. The roots should form quickly, probably in just three to four weeks.
- When roots have formed the rooted cuttings can be transplanted to a larger container, such as a 1 or 2 gallon pot. Depending upon whether you want a single or multi trunk crape myrtle, stick one to three rooted cuttings in the pot.
When roots have filled out the soil in the larger container you can plant in the landscape. During the first year, provide sufficient water to keep the garden soil from completely drying out.