Crape Myrtle – Watering Leaves

Q: My neighbor keeps telling me I’m crazy. When I water I take extra care to spray the leaves of my crape myrtles and Leylands. I know plants absorb water through their leaves but is it beneficial or am I just making myself feel better by giving them a shower?

A: Your neighbor knows you better than I do, so I can’t judge your mental health, but most of your spraying is in vain. Some water is absorbed by leaves but much more is taken in by roots. On the other hand, a strong spray of water is a good way to keep spider mites at bay in the Leyland cypress. A hard stream of water is a good way to thwart crapemyrtle aphids too. Although watering the foliage might lead to leaf disease on some plants, it won’t on these two. On the other hand, if spraying the leaves makes you happy, by all means do it. Gardening is supposed to be enjoyable, not full of rules that make you nervous.