Will impending sleet/ice damage newly planted crepe myrtle trees?

patncJanuary 29, 2010

I'm in Fayetteville, NC, and a winter storm warning is in effect for this area with sleet and ice for tomorrow night and Saturday. I have two very large Natchez Crepe Myrtle trees that were planted in Dec. - just 7 weeks ago - and am hoping the sleet and ice won't cause a problem. I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to lessen the chance of damage to them such as trying to keep the ice from accumulating by spraying the trees with water throughout the evening. They are about 18 ft. high, beautifuly shaped, expensive trees! Thank you in advance for any advice - or encouragement!

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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

I don't know about Fayetteville but here in the Charlotte area, they said if we do get ice that it would take a while for it to melt because of the cold front sweeping in behind this storm.
I hope your trees aren't damaged. I know if I were in the same situation I'd be dreaming up some way to teepee around them and cover with a tarp but then there's always the risk of wind blowing all those efforts over, taking the tree with them.
Failing that, I'd be calling the tree guys and having them dig up the crapes and lay them on the ground..or something equally as expensive and probably silly.
Wonder if instead of water, you spray them with a dormant oil and perhaps that will keep the ice from sticking???

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 2:39AM
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Thank you for responding. With the trees being close to 20 ft. tall, it's not possible for me to cover them - and if I could get a neighbor to put a tarp over the top, I'm afraid the weight of the sleet and ice on the tarp would cause limbs to break. I'll call a nursery today and see if they have any suggestions. I'm going to be heartsick if the trees are damaged in any way because I've waited the past 4 years to get them.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 6:43AM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

I wouldn't be worried about the sleet and snow, but the cold temperatures that will follow. Scratch a little of the bark off the branches and see if it's green underneath. If they are, I wouldn't worry. We had colder weather for a longer period of time recently. The snow and ice should act as insulation against 10 degree weather. Even so, I would expect a little die back, but probably not completely.

Don't cover them. Mulch the root zone well and water deeply to hydrate them.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 8:18AM
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Thank you, token28001, for the encouraging words. My main concern is the weight of the ice breaking branches, and the trees were chosen and subsequently purchased because of their beautiful shape! The weather forecast is for between 1/2" and 3/4" of ice accumulation which is supposed to be enough to cause breakage and even electric outages due to tree limbs falling on power lines - but I don't guess there's anything I can do to prevent the buildup of ice on my newly planted Crepe Myrtles. I did as you advised and watered the root zone and added more pinestraw, but I'll have to trust the fragile branches to my prayers being answered!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 6:01PM
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Don't mean to scare you, but if you get 3/4 inches of freezing rain, your crepe myrtles will be the least of your worries.

Last big ice storm we were trapped in our subdivision for 3 days until they could remove all the fallen oaks and pines.

But we were lucky, our power was only out for 36 hours. Some of our friends were without power for over 2 weeks!

Good luck, I'm hoping we're lucky and get nothing but snow and/or sleet.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 6:16PM
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Tammy Kennedy

I hate to echo what torajima said, but i agree. Even at 1/2" of freezing rain, you're gonna be hurting- a lot more than your trees.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 6:41PM
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