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Crape Myrtle looking dead


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macfreeman7
Maryland
Posts: 9
Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 6:52 pm   Post subject: Crape Myrtle looking dead


Hey folks, thank you for looking at this post.

I bought a crape myrtle back in July and placed it in the ground a few weeks later. It was blooming at the time, and looked very healthy. As time went buy, I started to notice that the leaves were curling and had brown tips. I soon realized that I had accidentally planted the tree in complete shade. A while later I finally transplanted it into full sun. As the months have gone by, I have seen it looking worse and worse. Right now, in November, all of the leaves are mostly completely brown, and even the new growth at the bottom his shriveled. I have tried to keep it relatively watered; when the ground below it pushes in with a finger, I typically think its ok not to water. I'm hoping that its been going through transplant shock and that it will come back in the spring.

Any thoughts?

Thanks again,

Zach




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toni


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North Texas, Zone 8a
Posts: 14452
Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 7:50 pm   


How long was it in a pot? Sometimes trees sit in nurseries quite a while and the roots have no place to expand so they go round and round in the pot. If the roots are not pulled loose they just keep growing in a circle, called Girdling, and the tree will die. You will have to dig it up if you are not sure that they were free when you planted it.

Crepe Myrtles are not evergreen so they will loose leaves when the weather gets cooler and the sun light diminishes. Hopefully it is just dormancy coming on.

What kind of hole did you dig? If it had straight smooth sides then the roots are less likely to be able to spread out for proper growth, the hole should be what's called 'ugly', rough on the sides to make it easier for the roots to spread.
Also, did you plant the tree using the soil you dug out adding some amendments? If it was planted solely in compost or other amendment, then it will suffer when the roots leave the amended area and have to find nutrients in the regular soil.

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macfreeman7
Maryland
Posts: 9
Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 7:56 pm   


Well, it was in the pot a while, as it would be in most nurseries. I work at the nursery, so I remember. I tried to loosen the roots as best I could.

The original hole I dug was nice and spacious. The new hole was certainly not too small, but it probably was too straight and smooth. To be honest, I don't remember completely.

I do remember that when I pulled the plant out of the first hole, the roots looked healthy and had started to take hold and branch out. I never really used amendments, since our soil is fairly rich

Do you think it just might b going dormant? THe rest of the crapes in my neighborhood dont look anything like it however...

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toni


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North Texas, Zone 8a
Posts: 14452
Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 8:45 pm   


I could be that because your's has been stressed by first it's shaded location and then being moved to another location it is just going dormant in order to rest and restore itself. Plants are pretty smart when it comes to knowing what they need.

Just please do not commit what some arborists call 'Crepe Murder' by cutting back all the limbs and branches in the fall or before it has broken dormancy in the spring. I realize that they bloom only on new growth but they will never reach their full size and beauty if they are chopped back severely every year. But then that does depend on whether you want to keep it as a small ornamental tree instead.

The two in our front yard were here and fully grown when we bought the house over 20 years ago and are gorgeous when covered with hot pink blooms every year. I trim when needed to keep them from hanging over the sidewalk or curb but other than that they do what comes naturally.

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macfreeman7
Maryland
Posts: 9
Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 10:56 pm   


Oh heavens no, I won't cut it back. We wanted to have something nice and tall in the back to hide our ever-high white wall that looks so plain.

Hopefully it will come back this spring! Is fertilizing a good idea?

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toni


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North Texas, Zone 8a
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Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 11:19 pm   


Fertilizing trees and plants in fall is a good idea. They are working on making stronger root systems thru the winter when they don't have to use energy to support leaves, blooms or fruits so a little help is good. Make it one that is higher in Phosphorus and Potassium, for fall fertilizing the Nitrogen number should be small maybe between 2-5.

Our soil is very fertile too, this whole neighborhood was a cotton farm for many years before the land was sold to a developer back in the late 1960's.

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timestocome
Houston, Texas
Posts: 22
Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2007 3:56 am   


They do that this time of year. Even way down here in Houston the crapes loose their leaves and start to look dead.

They go dormant in the winter which is probably why they can get hacked up so bad in the spring.

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