Why are my crepe myrtles not blooming?

crystals1943August 4, 2012

I live in the Lake Wylie area of SC. I have Dynamite (red), Natchez (white) and a large pink. The Dynamites are 8' tall and the pink and white are 15'+. All are planted in ground and receive constant sun from sunup till sundown. The red dynamite is blooming but has less blooms and bloomed later than last year. The white has started blooming in the past week, but, is later and has less blooms than last year. The pink had its first bloom this week ... and no signs of any more.

All plants were fertilized with 10-10-10 earlier in the year and are on a drip system ... everything is the same as past years. All plant growth has been excellent.

I'm probably paranoid ... but, it seems to me that many other crepe myrtles in my area are having the same issues. Even worse, I went to Lake Norman earlier this week and everyone's plants were blooming beautifully!

Your thoughts, please.

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esh_ga

Did you prune them? If so, when and by how much? That will certainly delay blooming and can even reduce it if not done properly.

Also too much fertilizer can result in strong leaf growth with less effort put into blooms.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 8:44AM
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crystals1943

esh_ga ...Thanks for the input.

I did not prune this year. I've never pruned except to remove dead branches. My fertilization program was no different than previous years.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 11:27AM
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esh_ga

Well, that is very strange then. How about a late freeze? That could've set it back.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 2:43PM
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subtropix

I can't directly answer your question, but mine were a little later in starting to flower as well. My dynamites are just opening, Zuni and Catawba are out but Hopi and Pecos not yet. Maybe the feeding as noted above. I did feed as well as they were just planted last season. Funny thing is that they all leafed out very early (without any frost issues), and the winter was very, very mild. They are all covered with flowers and buds, so it looks like the show will last through September if not later. It has been relatively DRY though since winter and I don't water. So maybe water related too.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 2:51PM
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butterfly4u

Crystals,
Go buy some blood meal, the kind you use for bulbs.
Put the blood meal generous around the trees root spread
and make sure the tree is mulched good on top of the blood meal.
Your tree will bloom like crazy next year.
Crape myrtle will have blooming problems with a lack
of phospours in the ground.
I did it to mine the first year I had it, and for the next couple of years after that. Every fall I put a little bit of blood meal in the soil, and it blooms like crazy every year.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2012 at 10:43AM
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crystals1943

Thanks to everyone for the input. I may have over fertilized in early spring.

butterfly4u ... how much is a little bit of blood meal? How, what with and when should I fertilize next spring?

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 9:20AM
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butterfly4u

Crystals,
I don't know how big your tree is, but, the instructions for fertilizing is usually on the back of the bloodmkeal bag. i usually estimate.
My crape myrtle didn't bloom the first year I had it at all. i was disgusted. Even the wild ones were blooming!
I looked it up online and some grower said to add blood meal to the soil and it worked the next year.
Blood meal takes a while to break down in the soil for the tree to use it. It is a slow acting "green" solution.
That is why I add it in the fall so it has a nice long time to break down and get into the roots.
My tree is about 12 to 15 feet tall now, so if I added it to the soil this fall, I would apply a cup of it all around the base of the tree and mulch over it.
Watch if you have dogs, they will want to disturb it. Don't let them near the tree til it breaks down a bit.
Try it, you will be glad you did.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 11:03PM
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crystals1943

butterly4u

I've been reading advice to use blood meal (or bone meal) and advice saying not to use high nitrogen .... Bloodmeal is almost pure nitrogen.

However ... I'm going to take your advice ... I've always been a bit of a contrarian.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 12:02PM
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lsst(7b)

I use bone Meal to add phosphorus. I mix it into the soil around my crape myrtles in late fall for next years blooms.
It will not work as well if placed on top of the soil.

My crepes were not blooming well and I had my soil analyzed.
My soil was extremely low in phosphorus.

Since adding it once a year for two years, my crepes are blooming great.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 11:10AM
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barnhardt9999(8a)

I'm pretty sure the culprit was the two late freezes we had in April. Don't take any action. You may end up loving your trees to death. Sit back and hope for no mid-April freezes next year.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 4:01PM
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crystals1943

Everyone ... thanks for the advice. I just returned from the Outer Banks where I was blessed with spending 5 days with several of my grandchildren. Life is Good!

barnhardt9999 .... I keep a diary for all of my vegetation ... checked my notes and found that I did have @ least 2 freeze/frosts in April.

As of today, the Pink is not blooming, the White is beginning and the Dynamite Reds range from not blooming to some blooms.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 9:16AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

It's an odd year with the crapes fully blooming now after a brief bloom in June. Usually the street median crapes are done blooming in late July.
These are the ones that get no care at all but for infrequent mowing of the median grass.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:33AM
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butterfly4u

Crystals,
I meant bone meal, I am sorry. I always use
bone meal around my crape in the fall.
Why was I thinking blood meal?
I think it is the same thing, I was using
the wrong name.
I wish you luck with your crapes, but no bloom at all
at this point in the summer, well, I would buy
myswelf some bone meal at Home Depot this weekend
and start adding to the soil.
You missed a whole year's worth of blooms.
Do a search on Google and put in, my crape
myrtle isn't blooming, and they will explain it to
you about the phosporus.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 7:40PM
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crystals1943

butterfly4u ... thanks for the correction. I'll try the bone meal this fall.

My research shows that blood meal is high in nitrogen while bone meal is high in phosphorus. As a fertilizer, the N-P-K ratio of bone meal is approx 4-12-0. The N-P-K ratio of blood meal is approx 13-1-0.6. Crape myrtles definitely need high phosphorous and low nitrogen.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 10:28AM
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dottie_in_charlotte(z7-8 NC)

Crystals..I don't know of anyone who irrigates their crape myrtles beyond the first couple years after planting.
And, you may be putting your fertilizer too close to the tree trunks.

Here it is 3rd week of Aug and most of the crapes in yards
and in pro intallations/street medians are blooming late and fully.
We have, in most of Meck. Cty, had more than enough and regular rain.
I'd stop babying these decorative small trees and focus on the fall/winter trimming and removal of the drip lines. Move the drip lines at least 6' from the trunk and root ball area or take it away altogether.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 6:22PM
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crystals1943

Follow-up!

I decided to stop "babying" my crepe myrtles. No fertilizer in Fall of 2012. No fertilizer for Spring of 2013. No pruning (not needed). Removed drip lines.

Thanks for everyone's input. I'll keep you posted ... Tony

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 10:38AM
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therock050383

Its always good to trim them when they are young. You can train their growth and help get the "umbrella" effect. However, once they get a little older, you can clean up the middle of the tree some, but stay away from the bloom areas. It will definitely get more blooms that way. Also, too much shade will dimininsh blooms as well. But you might not be able to much with that once its established....

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 1:43PM
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crystals1943

Still not blooming!

I eliminated all fertilizing and watering (except normal rain). All plants leaved beautifully and trees showed overall growth, but, blooms were pretty much non-existing.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 10:39AM
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butterfly4u

Crystals,
It's fall! Go buy yourself some Bone Meal.
I was at Home Depo this spring, and they have newer additives for Phosporus now go look.
I don't have to do it anymore, last fall was the first time I didn't use it, and the crape bloomed great again this year.
Do you put nitrogen on your lawn?
Is the grass anywhere near your tree?
If you apply too many lawn applications that could be telling it to leaf and not bloom.
Google Phosphorus deficiency and crape myrtle, they will explain why your trees aren't blooming.
Just try it, you have nothing to loose.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 1:14AM
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crystals1943

butterfly4u .... you're right! Today, I bought Espoma Bone Meal (24 lb) and will put it around my crepe myrtles this weekend.

Thanks ... Tony

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 12:47PM
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tlbean2004

So are they blooming this year?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 10:45AM
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crystals1943

They're blooming beautifully!. I did add a little more bone meal to the ground this spring. This winter, I found black sooty mold on the 'Dynamites' and cleared it up with Daconil and Bayer Advanced ... I would prefer to not use either, but, I was desperate and it worked!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 5:12PM
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