51104Junipers have a bad name. So do eucalypti. Too many of the wrong types were planted back at a time when they were too trendy. Those that were planted into inappropriate situations grew up to cause problems. The names of all junipers and eucalypti are now synonymous with those problems, even though there are many types of both genera that are quite practical for landscape purposes.
Get over it.
There are many junipers and eucalypti that are very good options for some landscape purposes. They need only minimal watering once established, and many will survive with none at all when mature. Some types of juniper grow as very low and very dense ground cover. With proper pruning, others can develop as exquisitely sculptural shrubbery or even small trees. (Just do NOT shear them!) Because of their very complaisant roots, some of the smaller eucalypti work very well as street trees.
I am certainly not promoting either junipers or eucalypti. They will not work for every application. I am merely saying that they should not be automatically dismissed because of their names. They were once overly popular for a variety of reasons, and those reasons are still valid.
However, I will say that there are a few species and varieties of each that are worth avoiding. They are likely what originally justified the bad reputations that are now shared by all of their relatives. For example, blue gum eucalyptus that was planted as a timber crop so long ago really is MUCH too big and messy for home gardens. Even where space is sufficient, there are probably better options.
Some of the current fads are also worth avoiding, or at least questioning. Some are very likely to earn a ‘bad name’ in the future, either because there will be too many of them, or because their faults will become evident as they mature. Because so many get planted within such a short time, many that mature at the about the same rate will develop their faults at about the same time.
For example, crape myrtle is such a useful and complaisant tree that it has been planted too commonly for just about every situation in which a tree is desired. It is resilient. It is complaisant with concrete. It blooms spectacularly. It colors splendidly in autumn. It really is an excellent small scale or medium tree for small garden spaces or near utility easements. It works very well in narrow park strips where larger trees would displace concrete. Yet, despite all the attributes, it is not good for everything, and does not get big enough to become a substantial shade tree, as it so commonly gets planted for. In the future, there will be so many crape myrtles in so many of the wrong situations that they will be considered to be too common.
Queen palm is another example. It used to be somewhat uncommon and respected. Through the 1990s, big box stores were selling them like junipers and eucalypti decades earlier. They happen to be very appealing palms that are more practical than the formerly more common Mexican fan pale, but have become so common that they were very often planted into situations that they are not appropriate for. Those that are under utility easements will need to be removed when their canopies start to encroach into utility cables. Because they are palms, they can not be pruned around the cables. Those that are able to mature will outgrow the reach of those who maintain their own gardens, or typical gardeners, necessitating attention from more expensive tree services. Like crape myrtles, they will also lose their appeal in the future.70222

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10 thoughts on “Horridculture – Bad Name

  1. Ah, yes. The crape myrtles. They can grow to a good size here, and sometimes do function as shade trees, but that’s rare. Generally, they are what you describe: so many, and so many in the wrong situations, that they are like white noise in the landscape.

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      1. Oh, my. That’s just terrible. I’m sending that post directly on to a friend in South Carolina who has babied her crape myrtles into stunning maturity. I don’t know if she’s heard about this, but she needs to.

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      2. If it becomes a problem here, I intend to protect the crape myrtles from them like I do for other scale, but obstructing their access up the trunk from the ground. Tanglefoot works well. So does simple axle grease. The trees can not touch other trees or anything else above the obstruction.

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  2. My parents’ neighbor has a few Queen Palms planted right up against the fence that borders their yards. They have already overgrown their space in a short period of time and overhang into my parents’ yard. Not only do people need to consider their own yards, they need to be mindful of their neighbors’ as well.

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  3. Hey guy, I feel ya on overly planted beauties (“vernacular favorites”)… but just want to give you a heads up on a SERIOUS new pest on crape myrtles which is rendering them all but totally useless in landscapes across the Southeasat. Won’t be long before it shows up on the West Coast. Check out my latest blog on it.
    Cheers

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    1. Thank you. I just got it a moment ago. I had to forward it to someone else who is probably already aware of it. As much as I dislike crape myrtles, I so hate to see them summer. They already get common types of scale, aphid and (sometimes) whitefly here, but has been somewhat manageable so far.

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  4. Crape myrtles are very overused here. They’re pretty, but susceptible to tea scale and aphids. Then they get sooty mold. We also have ‘crape murderers’ here that prune them so severely in spring that it makes them grotesque.

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    1. I just pollarded one. It gets so congested naturally. I happen to pollard very neatly, and I intend to get the subject to develop knuckles so that it can be pollarded back the same way annually. However, another cultivar that I work with does not get pollarded simply because it does not get congested. I just knock the dead twigginess out of it. Someone pointed out crape murder in Murphys. It looked horrid, and so unnecessarily so! It was no less severe than pollarding, but left some of the dead twigginess, with really bad tears and stubs. It is not difficult to do it properly.

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