Transplanting crape myrtles

soonerjan(z6 OK)August 3, 2004

Another question! We are clearing an old homesite and there is an old watermelon colored crape. It must be 30 feet tall, with a huge trunk base. What are my chances of digging it up with a back hoe? Directions would be nice, too. Thanks.

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I have just completed this task about 3 weeks ago. I think the crepe myrtles are going to survive the transplant. Pink blooms are starting to appear but in a limited amount. We had a backhoe dig them up - they did not do a great job at getting the root ball and they were placed on a trailer for transporting - these large trees sat all afternoon in the blazing heat in S.C. until we could transport them 20 miles away..(they were too big to cover) on our farm. We have faithfully watered these trees daily...really soaking them since we have very sandy soil. My fingers are still crossed but the leaves never wilted and a few blooms have returned. Good luck!!!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 5:05PM
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Sophie Wheeler

It's be a lot easier just to take root cuttings and start a new plant that way. But, if you've actually got a backhoe to both dig up the CM and to dig it's new hole where it's going, you don't have much to lose. Keep it well watered, and spray the foliage with WiltPruf to stop moisture loss through transpiration.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2004 at 5:42PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

While it will make it, you may lose some of the trunks and branches this winter. Wait next year until at least June before trimming back dead branches. Keep it watered this fall and winter too.

I transplanted 2 8'ones this past winter and they did not leaf out until June.

AND, I thought they were dead.

I dug one of them up and threw it in the woods. There was NO green under the top layer of brown bark. Although, I admit, there was near the base...

I never got around to digging up the second one and while I had to cut it back by about half, it's flourishing.

And I might add, so is the one I threw in the woods!

And, where I dug it up, are 12" high babies.

These things are hardy!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2004 at 7:22PM
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I moved a very large Crepe once, she lost every leaf! I could have cried as she was just gorgeous! I watered that DEAD TREE,(looked dead) faithfully, for the entire year. Finally I cut her down to the ground as the limbs would break off with your hands. I wouldn't give up and she didn't either. The NEXT year in July, she put out new growth all around the base. I couldn't beleive it! She didn't bloom that year, but always did after that.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 6:39AM
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sandcrab(coastal SC z8)

I have one that's about twelve foot tall and not in a good site - it's getting crowded out and light-starved by bamboo and honeysuckle. I have two questions: first, would I need a backhoe to get this size of crape myrtle out? (There may be bamboo corms all around it.) Second, what about changing its environment drastically, from mostly shade to the mostly sunny front lawn?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 1:02PM
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When is the best time of the year to transplant?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 9:28AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Fall/Winter/Early spring is the best time to move plants.

Crepe Myrtles love full sun. The more sun they get the more they bloom.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 7:57PM
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I just transplanted a beautiful 10' myrtle. We got most of the rootball but there was one or two very large roots that had to be cut about 4ft out from the tree. We are watering daily but it has started to wilt. Any suggestions? we used black cow and good soil when replanted (FL sandy soil is never good) it's in full sun. Should I prune the top off I have had several conflicting opinions. Any thoughts are appreciated.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2008 at 9:33PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Just so you know: you could never have gotten most of the roots when transplanting a 10 crapemyrtle. Even a professionally grown field-dug tree will end up with only about 20% (at most) of its root system during digging.

Also, even in sandy soil, it is not recommended that you amend with lots of organic matter, unless you are preparing an entire bed for landscaping.

Transplanting at this time of year, in Florida no less, is excruciatingly challenging for any kind of plant. It would not have been something that I would have considered for a 10 foot crapemyrtle, or any other kind of deciduous tree.

I'd examine the planting hole to make sure that you are not creating some sort of bath tub effect due to the amended soil. If not, keep up with the watering. Mulch the entire root mass with 2 to 4 inches of cooling bark, chips or pine straw (though never pile it up next to the trunk).

I wouldn't prune your tree, simply because topping ruins the appearance swiftly and permanently. If you prune heavily at this time, the plant will have to devote energy to making new foliage, rather than new roots. Not a good situation.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 10:39AM
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Rhizo- you are spot on . Excellent advice .
Florida's sandy soil is ideal for growing almost any thing . It is NOT bad soil . Plant the right plant in the right place . Do not try to force plants to grow in conditions that belong in another part of the country .
Give any tree or large bush at least one year before you completely give up on it . It is perfectly normal for plants to go into total shock after transplanting where they lose every leaf and go dormant . Water , patience and time are all you need . And never , ever fertilize for a very long time after transplanting anything .

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 1:48PM
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I replanted my Crape myrtles about 3 weeks ago. They have plenty of room and a lot of sun light but only 2 of them are blooming and when I say blooming they dont look dead like the other 2 I replanted. The ones that are not blooming look like they are dead. What should I do? Trim them back and wait till next year or just keep watering them all and wait to see what happends?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 10:14AM
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I have a crape myrtle that needs to be moved (zone 6a) It is currently cut down to 15 inches tall and 25 inches wide (spread of cut shrub, we always cut it back each winter from ~6 feet tall, the actual base is ~10 inches wide, and I know it is quite viable). The plant needs to go (since it is to big for the current space). Can I transplant something this big? How big would the root ball need to be? Since I like the tree and have an appropriate space, would I be better off starting with a new garden-center size shrub, or trying to capture the accumulated growth using this with a difficult (possible?) transplant? I can supply pics if that helps. Thanks for your kind advice.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 4:54PM
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