How to Plant and Fertilize Crape Myrtle

 How to Plant and Fertilize Crape Myrtle

Step 1: Decide Which Color Crape Myrtle and Pick a Spot

The crape myrtle (Lagerstromia) is a hardy, drought-tolerant shrub that can be a great addition to any garden. This hardy plant does exceptionally well in warm climates, producing vibrant, colorful leaves even in the hottest part of the year.

Crape myrtle plants come in a wide range of colours. The most typical hues are white, pink, and red. A new purple/maroon version is also available, which is also very attractive. The variety we planted in this article is called Midnight Magic and has dark leaves and maroon or purple flowers.

Plan Ahead

The first thing you need to think about is what your garden will look like a few years after the shrubs have matured to full size. Some crape myrtle species can grow up to 25 inches tall and 15 inches wide, so think about how they will interact with fences, outbuildings and walkways as they mature.

Also be aware that some crape myrtle species can send out "runners" that can grow new plants several feet away from the main plant.
When planting multiple crape myrtles, you may consider alternating colors or choosing the same color for all your plants for a more coordinated look.

Check Before You Dig

Be sure to check before digging any holes, even if it's in your own garden. Gas, cable, sewer, and water lines are often buried just below the surface. When planting larger crape myrtle plants, which require deep digging, first call 811, the national pre-dig hotline in the United States.

Step 2: Planting the Crape Myrtle

Digging a hole for your crape myrtle is the next step. The general rule for shrubs is that the hole you dig for them should be twice the width and depth of the pot the plant came in. Our crape myrtle came in a 10" x 8" pot, so we dug a hole 20" wide and 16" deep.

Breaking up tangled roots.

After digging and cleaning the hole, gently remove the crape myrtle from its pot.
Next, you'll need to loosen any roots that are tangled in the sides and bottom of the pot. Flattening and tearing out these roots will cause them to grow outward and prevent your shrub from becoming “root bound.”

Placing the Crape Myrtle Into the Hole

Pour some potting mix into the hole so you can place the plant in it, with the roots slightly above ground level. When you water and establish the plant, the top of the root ball should be perfectly level with the surface of your garden.

Water well.

After planting your crape myrtle, make sure to water it well by running a hose over the base of the plant for several minutes. Your goal is not only to water the plant, but also to thoroughly moisten the soil around it so that small roots begin to grow in it.

For smaller plants, you can use wooden stakes and ties to support the weight of the branches, at least until the roots are established.

How to Fertilize Your Crape Myrtle

If your plant is healthy and not stressed, it's okay to go ahead and fertilize it, but that's okay. Use less fertilizer than recommended on the label for this size of shrub.
For our 24-inch plant, we used a tablespoon of Vigoro tree, shrub and evergreen compost, spread around its base. It has a 16-4-8 NPK (nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium) ratio, which is ideal for crepes. Myrtle.

You can also use any balanced fertilizer, such as an NPK ratio of 8-8-8 or 10-10-10, both of which work well for crape myrtle.
Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the correct amount of fertilizer for the size of crape myrtle you have planted.

Care After Planting

You'll definitely need to water and fertilize your crape myrtle in the spring, and it's not a bad idea to do it again in the fall if you want really lush foliage.
Crepe Myrt plants are hardy, drought-tolerant and don't need a lot of care after they're planted, which is probably why I love them so much!

Should You Prune Crape Myrtle?

Some gardeners refer to the process of pruning crape myrtle as “killing the creep” because they are so concerned about the process.
However, research from the University of Florida seems to have put this age-old question to rest, or at least shed some light on whether you should.
If you choose the right type of crape myrtle for your planting, pruning is not necessary, and it is best to leave it alone to grow naturally.
In some cases it may be necessary to cut back crape myrtles, such as if they are getting close to overhead power lines or causing problems in fences or outbuildings.

Food for Bees

Crape myrtles live for decades, and their flowers can provide food for bees and butterflies. Interestingly, bees produce two types of pollen: one for fertilization and the other for pseudopollen, which bees prefer because of its digestibility.

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