When to transplant crepe myrtle trees?

bigcatonhd(7)July 25, 2006

We are new to the site and have enjoyed reading the posts - many of which have helped us with gardening questions in Picken, SC.

We have a couple of crepe myrtle trees we want to move to a sunnier location. Right now they are in a crowded, shady area of the yard and have grown over 10 feet tall. When is the best time and what is the best way to transplant them?

Thanks for any advice and help!

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nonews(Zone 7 NC)

I would suggest September at least and maybe October. The temperature will be cooler and more rain.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2006 at 9:21PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The general rule of thumb for the transplanting of deciduous trees and shrubs in your location is to wait until full dormancy....when the leaves fall.

Dig the hole no deeper than it needs to be to allow the tree to sit a bit above grade, but three or four times as wide. Sort of like a shallow basin with sloped sides. Planting too deeply is one of the most common reasons for transplant failure.

When digging your tree plan on a root ball of AT LEAST 12" diameter for every inch of trunk diameter. Plan on a root ball depth of 6" for every one inch of trunk diameter. Those are minimum measurements. The width (diameter) of the root ball is more important than the depth.

Dig with freshly sharpened tools taking care to severe the roots rather than mangle them. Mishandling of the root ball in a second primary reason for transplant failure.

Use NO amendments of any kind in the hole or mixed with the backfill. Do not fertilize until the tree is established....which may take as much as a year per every inch of trunk diameter. Mulch well, and prepare to keep watered even during the winter months.

The attached fact sheet comments on root pruning several months prior to transplanting, but I would not recommend that you do so in the middle of summer! I suggest that you forego that step.

Here is a link that might be useful: Transplanting Fact Sheet

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 5:50AM
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Thanks so much for the info! The fact sheet gives us great info on trees and some shrubs that need moving! Looks like we have our work cut our for us when fall comes.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 6:12PM
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Good luck on your transplanting. In my experience, it has been a royal pain in the backside to dig up a crape myrtle. I cut one down that had grown to about 12 feet last year (5 yrs old). I cut the lateral roots and still couldnot budge the stump. I left the hole open after giving up. It came back this year and now is 8 feet tall and blooming. It is a Natchez. Let us know how you come out.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 8:51AM
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I just transplant a crepe myrtle and now it appears to be dying after 3 days. Is this normal. What can I do to save it


    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 7:26PM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Here, the landscapers plant crape myrtle every month of the year following the homebuilding schedule. My neighbors added a big one this summer (remember this summer's drought???). It got a bit of the lawn irrigation water weekly and that was it. It never drooped once but gave only a bit of flowering in August.

aharris, I might be inclined to trim off most of the foliage (not all) so that tree can use the next month to grow roots before it goes leafless for the winter. Don't overwater it.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 8:59PM
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Pay to get it done. Save your backs. Dummies

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 3:21PM
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I have had my 2 crepe myrtles for about 5 years, Theyre very healthy but were planted to close to my deck steps. I transplanted them in Nov 2010 and now its may 2011 and they havent pushed out any leaves. I peeled back some bark from different heights if the tree and is still green. What could be the issue of them both not "budding leaves"?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 5:08PM
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I dug a four foot one several years ago in the winter, potted it up, and then waited...and waited..and waited. Leaves finally came on around the end of August.

Daughter now has it at the corner of her garden, and it is still slightly later than most in pushing out leaves. However, it has grown in height and looks good.


    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 7:13PM
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when can you transplant and can you take clippings and re root?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 10:17AM
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Have some small crepe myrtles under some pine trees never did real good want to move them when is the best time.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 5:26PM
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bkb & rlberry: The first and second responses in this thread are correct and apply to other plants as well.
However, Crape Myrtles are almost weeds and hard to kill, so almost any time would likely work. These trees grow offshoots that should transplant as well so there is no need to take clippings.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 6:03PM
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I transplanted two that were about 9 or 10 feet tall, last month, during the drought. I was unable to get all the roots. Both have survived and have put on new growth. I watered frequently. These plants are pretty tough.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 6:43PM
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I transplanted a 20 ft Crepe Myrtle in April cause someone was gonna cut it down. It's October now and the tree looks dead, but has shoots coming out the ground. I've know people say be patient, but for how long? Spring, summer, longer? When do I cut it down?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 4:36PM
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neonrider(USDA 8A ^ Sunset 31 ^ Mid-SC)

I just planted a couple Natchez and they got planted flush with the soil, perhaps 1/2" higher, but I had to beat the hell out of the containers to remove them since they were grown at the nursery with containers lowered in the ground, so the roots were severed. Also I guess they got wind stress driving 40-50 mph for 30 miles from the nursery. They were very heavy since those are tall 8 to 10 footers and I did it all by myself, but for quite a while they lay around on their sides for a few hours. Once I planted I added mulch and watered etc. The bottom of the holes was slushy after all these rains. Today I noticed the trees are getting coloured leaves and one tree especially its branches are drooping and leaves as well and some leaves dry, so I gave it a long watering again. Wonder if I should water it every day until it established since they got planted July 18? A lot of sources say do not overwater, but how much exactly is too much? Are drooping blossoms, drooping branches and some smaller ends of branches dry and breaking mean too much or too little water or simply transplanting stress?

Also, last winter or early spring I saved a huge crape myrtle (15-20') which was pulled by the construction guys and the root ball was minimal. Months later one of the trunks cracked open 1/8" to 1/4" in a lot of places on one side, wonder if it dried and died or should I expect it to recover after the winter the next spring? Many branches are dry and are breaking, but when I accidentally scratched the bark there's still some microscopic green layer under it.

Some people write, including here, that crape myrtles are tough and you can't kill them, they come back etc.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 9:47PM
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First of all, no one is talking about planting "container" Crape Myrtles! The question is about TRANSPLANTING and planting from containers is NOT transplanting. When a tree is transplanted it is already established in the ground with a mature root system, and many times it does not appreciate being moved. I transplanted a Crape Myrtle tree from my backyard to my front yard last August (2013), and it quickly "died" or at least appeared to. I left it in the ground, kept watering until winter, and this past spring many many leaves began to bud. I was so relieved, but my exuberance was short-lived as well. Now the leaves are almost all dead again and I fear I wasted an entire year trying to nuture this thing. I don't think Crape Myrtles appreciated being transplanted. I have what's known as a green thumb, and can't figure out why on earth this tree would not have survived except for the fact that it did not want to be moved. It's only about three years old too, very slim still, and less than eight feet tall with only about three main branches (about the size of a 15-gallon container tree). I'm actually going to try transplanting another tree AGAIN. I have another Crape Myrtle tree in the back that is about the same size, I'm guessing only about three years old and also very slim with a trunk diameter of only about an inch and a half, but I'll use the Transplanting Guide posted here a few years ago and make SURE I get a bigger root ball this time. I'll mulch this time, water well until the weather cools (it's September but in California it's still near 100 degrees every day), I always plant slightly high (I was doing that WAY back in the day when nursery people told everyone to plant at grade), and I'll just have to hope for the best. I'll repost next spring with the results.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2014 at 3:43PM
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fordv8(7 N. Georgia)

flowerpower1234 - You transplanted it in summer. They do not do well at that time, nor do many shrubs. I have transplanted several crepes, in fall and late winter/early spring. Most have survived & thrived, but a couple of smaller ones died.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2015 at 4:06AM
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