Crepe Myrtle help

rofoFebruary 24, 2014

Hi, I've frequented this site for 2 years and have gained a wealth of information, so I'd like to thank you all for contributing to this awesome resource! I've searched and searched but haven't found the guidance I need for this particular issue.

I bough 4 varieties of crepe myrtle for next to nothing late last summer from a big box store. They were on their last leg so I left them in their pots and nursed them for the next several months; all were healthy by "fall". However, I did not protect them this winter and we had a few uncharacteristic hard freezes, getting down to 20 degrees one night. Warm weather has started now and I'm pretty sure I've done everything wrong since then.

I started watering the pots a couple weeks ago and as I amended other parts of gardens with worm castings, epson salts, a light compost tea and (I SO dread admitting this because I know better), a very light application of a granular all purpose "Master Gardener" fertilizer, I would give the potted trees a tiny dose of each. I just did a scratch test (have been too scared up until now) and the bottom portions of trunks show green but the top half-3/4 are dead. I should cut the dead tops off, right? Should I flush the soil? I want to put them in the ground this year as well. Would this be the right time or should I wait?

Thanks in advance for your input!

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Lynn Marie

IMO, the time to put them in the ground was last fall. But the sooner you do it the better. Crepe Myrtles are pretty tough and they'll be fine. Might not be great this year, but next year they'll really look good. I wouldn't cut anything off just yet. Wait and see what it does. Someone else may have other opinions though.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 6:48PM
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rofo

Thanks Lynn. I agree with you- wanted to put them in in the fall but was struggling hard to keep a meyer lemon and a magnolia jane alive after transplanting. Those are more sensitive I realize, but I didn't want to risk traumatizing the crepes (or myself) too. If the top portions of trunks are dead, how could the tree get new growth on top?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 9:17PM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

They put up new shoots every spring. For the next few years, leave the ones that are best positioned to give the multi (or single) trunk look you are after and cut the rest off at the base. The 4 or 5 trunks on our mature crape myrtles all have similar diameters now, but were selected across the 3 or 4 seasons after planting.

Agree with Lynn about waiting to see how it leafs out before trimming off any dead stuff. In the unlikely case the leaders really were damaged badly enough to look bad even after corrective pruning, you can always cut them out at the base once some of the new shoots have grown large enough to replace them.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 12:56PM
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