Crepe Myrtles

goofyisgreen(Z8 PacNW)October 26, 2010

I'm an East Coast transplant who, remembering the beautiful late blooms, pretty fall foliage, and cool winter bark, bought 3 Crepe Myrtles in late spring 2009.

I have babied them the past two years, providing regular

water and fertilizer. In all respects I can determine, they look quite healthy and happy. They have not, however, bloomed at all.

I realized when I bought them and located them in my yard that they might not get enough sun to bloom here, as all they get is several hours of filtered afternoon sun. Question is, can I do anything to enhance their chance of blooming, particular with fertilizer. I believe 2 years may be a bit premature to write them off on blooming, as I didn't expect them to bloom the 1st (dry) summer in 09, and this year was the summer that wasn't. If it is possible for them to bloom, I'd like to do what I can to help them out.

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Fertilizer will not encourage them to bloom - that's not exactly its intent. What they need is sun and heat, both of which can be in short supply in summer in this area. If you can relocate them to an area where they receive maximum, unobstructed sunlight and any reflected heat -- along a cement walkway or driveway, by a paved patio, in front of a southfacing wall, etc. - that will help. But even then, no guarantees.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 10:27AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Even in the necessary hot exposure some kinds bloom more readily here, as early as July some years (in Seattle) and others may seldom bloom at all. So, in addition to the right planting location you have to plant the right cultivar.

What metropolitan area are you in or nearest to?

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 11:55AM
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mariev_seattle(PNW Z8 Sunset Z5)

Most of the more established Crape Myrtles in our neighborhood (around Green Lake) bloomed beautifully during our long summer last year, but very few of them bloomed this year since it was so cool.

Here's a good site on Crape Myrtles with information on bloom times: Auburn University College of Agriculture Common Crape Myrtle page. I would look for one with an early bloom time. Our neighbors have Natchez on the east side of their house--so not scorchingly hot, but it still blooms nicely as long as we have a few months of real summer.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 12:57AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

In Seattle a body can see multiple cultivars demonstrated at the Center for Urban Horticulture.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 10:50AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

My Zuni bloomed well here in Portland. It gets full sun.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 3:09PM
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Good to hear that Zuni will bloom. I just planted one this season--it's in the corner of a bed where the driveway meets the street--probably the hottest spot in the yard. Even if it doesn't bloom much, the fall color has sure been pretty.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 9:52AM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

My Zuni is at the SW corner of my house in full sun, my very hottest site...keeping in mind I'm just a few miles from the ocean and don't get the clear sunny days that those of you farther inland do.

No blooms - not ever - and it's many years planted. I don't even look for flowers any more, but it's pretty for foliage, shape, has no insect or disease issues, and I do like the bark :)

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 11:06AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes, a cool outer coastal site would be just the thing to keep one of these heat loving trees from budding up. But I don't know if that cultivar is one of the better choices for this region.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2010 at 2:31PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Did some pruning & cleanup on a property in Laurelhurst this week, driving by the Center for Urban Horticulture parking lot plantings noticed there was one crape myrtle variety that was fairly conspicuously more red (in autumn leaf) than the others. If I was looking for a crape myrtle I'd be interested in which one that was.

Of course, fall color varies yearly with some plants to an extent that the same specimen can produce a predominantly red display one year and an orange one the next.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 1:36PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Some good reds on potted crape myrtles at Sky Nursery, north of Seattle. The best was 'Natchez'.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 10:31PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

My Zuni is now looks horrible. It had not turned color nor dropped it's leaves when the Arctic blast hit in November. I hope it lives, it is close to fifteen years old...It does get Southern exposure and radiated heat from cement driveway and walkway.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 3:07PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Lots of brown or brownish leaves all around up here, many trees and shrubs did not drop them before it turned cold. Probably due to the cool periods this spring and summer. Doubt anything is wrong with your tree, it's already lived there for 15 years. Even if it turns out there was some tip die-back it should be able to sprout from below the damage and bounce back. An exception would be an aggressive Pseudomonas infestation entering stem wounds and killing branches. Have not noticed this on crape myrtle or seen it mentioned.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2010 at 9:47PM
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