Do you want a perfectly flowered garden that you do not have to maintain a lot? Do you want to grow a plant that is not only beautiful but also great for health? Crepe Myrtle is a plant that has numerous health benefits. It can be used to prevent cancerous growth, overcome strokes, and cure diabetes.
Lagerstroemia Indica, popularly known as Crepe Myrtle, is a beneficial flowering plant that could either grow into a shrub or a tiny tree. Proper care and fertilization elongate the flowering duration and the overall lifespan of the plants. With the help of the right maintenance procedures, your myrtles can grow all summer efficiently long.
If you have recently planted Crepe Myrtles, you must have realized how easily they grow. However, they too require fertilization and tending to from time to time. If you want to create the best flowering display possible, continue reading this article. You will learn about the kind of fertilization they require and find information about some of the plant’s best fertilizers.
How to Care for Crepe Myrtles to Get Beautiful and Healthy Growth
Few plants are as prolific as crepe myrtles when the question of full summer blooms arises. Even though these plants are relatively low-maintenance, you cannot let them grow in the wild. If you want to make your crep myrtles look the best they can, you must follow some tending tips.
Sun is Crepe Myrtle’s Best Friend
There is a reason why these plants bloom in the summer. They are summer plants that require full sunlight to thrive. Sun exposure of more than six hours is what will help you get the most out of your crepe myrtle plantation.
If crepe myrtles do not get enough sunlight, they can not grow as prolifically. The flowers will lose their color, and the size of the plants will be diminished.
Perfect Soil for Perfect Growth
Crepe Myrtles are not at all fussy about the pH level of the soil. However, if the soil is neutral to slightly acidic, the plants will thank you for your consideration.
The soil that is used to grow crepe myrtles should be devoid of moisture. It should be very well-drained. This is because crepe myrtle roots are susceptible to root rot.
Do Not Go Overboard with the Fertilizers
In the earlier days, the popular belief was that crepe myrtles should be left to grow organically. However, recent studies show that light fertilization does wonder for depleting plants.
Many variants of crepe myrtles require a high nitrogen level in the fertilizer. The fertilizer used should be a slow-releasing one so that the plants are not overwhelmed by an excess of nutrients. If you use heavy fertilizers, you will promote higher leaf growth than flower growth. That is something that can be sought for medicinal purposes, but not for flowering gardens.
Treat Fungus and Pests
As mentioned earlier, crepe myrtles are susceptible to sooty mold, fungal infections, and powdery mildew. It is suggested that you treat such infectious issues before the problem even arises. Using some fungicide on the plants can prevent your crepe myrtles from succumbing to such fungal infections.
Wintertime is Pruning Time
A general rule of thumb while growing crepe myrtles is that they bloom on new growth. This means that they bloom the best on new wood. Therefore, the winter and early spring season is the best time to prune your plants to promote flowering.
The trunks of crepe myrtles are beautiful. They have soft peeling barks that are wonderful to be exposed for display. Therefore, you should prune away the lower branches to up to 5 feet in height. This will reveal the beautiful trunk for all-year beauty maintenance of the tree.
Most varieties of crepe myrtles are perfect for early blooming. Therefore, if you want a luscious tree one year, you can judiciously dead-head the plant. However, the next bloom will not be as plush as the first bloom after dead-heading.
Understanding Special Requirements
Crepe Myrtles might have some needs that are primarily centric to their species. You must be well aware of the problems that they specifically face. Issues such as loss of leaves, discoloration, and yellowing leaves could result from some soil or atmosphere problems.
Ensure that you understand the problems that your tree is facing and know how to fix them immediately. Immediate reversal of issues prevents the trees from sustaining a permanent loss.
Common Issues Faced While Growing Crepe Myrtles
Crepe Myrtles are extremely low-maintenance plants. Except for their susceptibility to rot and catch fungus, there is very little that they require to thrive. However, there is a reason why you must be growing the plant domestically instead of letting it grow in the wild. You want it to be in perfect health and look as healthy as possible.
No matter how well the plant can sustain itself in difficult situations, some things need to be taken care of. Even the best of trees thrives in a tended environment, and crepe myrtles are no exception. Given below are a few issues that crepe myrtles face that hinder their growth.
Crepe Myrtles are known for their beautiful flowers. However, sometimes it might happen that the plants might not flower at all. If this happens, it is one of the most frustrating things ever. The biggest reason why crepe myrtles might not bloom is because of the lack or excess of pruning. This problem also arises due to the lack of nitrogen or phosphorous in the soil.
It so happens when the plants are not pruned; the excessive length of branches can make it difficult for nutrients to reach the buds. Excessive pruning can lead to cutting off the flowering buds that will never develop again.
Yellowing leaves of a crepe myrtle are never indicative of good health. While the yellowing of leaves during autumn is considered acceptable, this happening at any other time is unacceptable.
The biggest reason why the leaves of crepe myrtle might turn yellow is it falling victim to Cercospora Leaf Spot. While it is not a disease that will kill the entire plant, it will cause severe harm. Removing affected leaves is the safest bet at this point.
Another reason why leaves might turn yellow is because of excessive exposure to the sun. Crepe Myrtles naturally require a lot of sunlight to thrive. However, too much heat with too little water circulating in the leaves is a significant problem. It can scorch the leaf vessels, and hence causing yellowing.
Leaves of crepe myrtles are beneficial for medicinal purposes. Other than that, they also serve a deep aesthetical purpose. However, sometimes crepe myrtles might refuse to grow leaves at all. The lack of the right climatic zone is the primary reason for this problem. If the crepe myrtle is not in zones 6 through 9, it is in unfavorable conditions.
It is also possible that the plant is not leafing out due to the lack of proper acidity in the soil. However, this is not a popular cause due to the no-fuss growth of crepe myrtles. The biggest reason for the lack of leaf growth is the lack of phosphorous in the soil.
Pests and Insects
As mentioned previously, crepe myrtles are prone to catching pests, insects, and fungus. A proper supply of potassium to the plant will help it fight such diseases properly. This is because potassium provides immunity and vigor to plants. However, pesticides and fungicides can also accelerate the healing or protective process in the plants.
The crust-like waxy covering of a crepe myrtle tree might get covered with whitish or greyscale. These scales generally appear due to pests such as crawlers, aphids, and Japanese beetles. You can simply scrub the pests away to ensure that they do not cause further harm to the wood.
Nutrients Required by Crepe Myrtles
Every living organism requires certain nutrients to survive and thrive. Crepe Myrtles are no exception. There are a few nutrients that all variants of crepe myrtles require. An excess of each of these nutrients might cause issues. However, the deficiency of any one of them can be fatal to the plant. Make sure that your crepe myrtles necessarily get access to the following nutrients.
Any level of nitrogen deficiency in crepe myrtles can cause an array of issues. While the appropriate amount of nitrogen allows the plant to flower, an excess of the nutrient promotes leaves’ growth.
The most common problem that lack of nitrogen causes is a lack of flowering. Ensure that the soil that the plant is growing is rich in nitrogen if you want a healthily flowering tree or shrub. It is only because of nitrogen that crepe myrtles can take other required nutrients from the plants.
Phosphorous is the nutrient that allows crepe myrtles to survive within themselves. A high quantity of phosphorous in the soil allows the plants to store energy efficiently. This is a crucial requirement for photosynthesis, which helps in a plant’s life sustenance.
The addition of phosphorous in the soil allows the crepe myrtles to grow holistically. In case a long growing crepe myrtle variant is small and skinny, you can be sure that it is facing a severe lack of phosphorous. Without proper phosphorous level in the soil, the crepe myrtles might even refuse to bloom.
Since crepe myrtles only flower and do not produce fruits, the amount of phosphorous they require to grow is scarce. This is also because of the plant’s natural ability to soak the element from the soil.
Potassium is the direct influencer of the way water is moved inside a plant. Potassium promotes foliage. With a lack of potassium, the adenosine triphosphate, protein, and starch value (ATP production) of the plant might drop severely.
Lack of potassium is the biggest reason why the ends of crepe myrtle leaves might curl or turn an unhealthy yellow shade. It is due to a lack of potassium that crepe myrtles are not able to fight diseases.
Potassium gives immunity and vigor to plants. Therefore, if your crepe myrtles frequently fall victim to common diseases and fungus, consider adding potassium to the soil through a fertilizer.
NPK are the three vital nutrients that are required by any species of plants. However, as flowering plants, some other requirements must be fulfilled by the soil’s fertilizers. Most crepe myrtle species require multi-purpose fertilizers that have a holistic composition of all nutrients, including micronutrients and organic matter.
Micronutrients such as zinc, manganese, copper, sulfur, and iron are the most common nitrogen sources. They are extremely important for a healthy crepe myrtle plant.
How to Choose the Right Fertilizer for Your Crepe Myrtles
Since the plant requires extensive values of each essential plant nutrient, it is important to note that the fertilizer’s NPK value is central.
Crepe Myrtles usually prefer when they are provided with all-purpose garden fertilizers. Most of these fertilizers’ NPK ratio is 8-8-8 or 10-10-10. For healthy crepe myrtles, you can also use fertilizers with the NPK ratio of 12-4-8 or 16-4-8. However, these fertilizers should be used with caution and shouldn’t be put in excess into the soil.
If the fertilizer that you are going to use comprises other nutrients such as zinc and copper, that’s the right option to choose. However, you can always add the nutrients that you feel are lacking in the soil.
Another effective way of choosing the right fertilizer for your crepe myrtles is by getting a soil test. Through this test, you will get a complete nutrient profile of the plants’ soil. This detailed study will help you examine which nutrients are missing from the soil and add better plant growth.
Slow-releasing fertilizers work best for crepe myrtles. This is because the trees are such that they will require a year-round nutrient supply. In case the fertilizers release all the nutrients in one go, the plants will have an excess of nutrients in the beginning while they will have to face deficiency later. Therefore, you must only choose fertilizers that sit in the soil and release nutrients slowly.
The texture of the fertilizer that you are using does not matter as much. You could use a liquid or a granular fertilizer, and both of them will work similarly. The only thing necessary is that the fertilizer should be slow-releasing.
When to Fertilize Crepe Myrtles
It is a general rule that crepe myrtles only bloom on new growth. Therefore, it is necessary to note that they are fertilized at very specific months and times. Fertilizing in spring is the best way to go to promote healthy crepe myrtle production.
When to Fertilize
Springtime is great for fertilizing since that is the time when the first leaves start to appear on the plants. By this time, the crepe myrtles are very well established and rooted. Rooted crepe myrtles are known to be heavy feeders. Therefore, whatever fertilizer you feed them at this point will be consumed diligently to provide maximum benefits.
The best strategy to fertilize the crepe myrtle soil perfectly is to use the fertilizers over a few months. Using the fertilizer throughout the spring and summer months at an interval of a few weeks is the right way to go.
Fertilizing New Crepe Myrtles
During the first year after their germination, the essential thing that determines the development is fertilization. In case the crepe myrtles are newly germinated, you can lightly fertilize them throughout the year to promote healthy sapling growth. You could also fertilize them three times that year: during early spring, during late spring, and late summer.
Not only will this help the plant fight diseases, but it will also promote the roots to take up a strong base, allowing them to spread properly and get fully established in the soil.
Watering After Fertilization
A crucial thing while fertilizing crepe myrtles is that they must be watered after fertilization. This allows the plants to soak as many nutrients as possible from the soil as their roots absorb water.
If you live in a humid climatic condition, the maximum that you must water your crepe myrtles is once a week. However, if you live in a considerably dry or cold climatic condition, you can water the plants twice a week at max.
When to Stop Fertilizing
As the fall season approaches, make sure that you discontinue fertilizing your plants and reduce watering frequency. This will teach the plants to get used to the winter dormancy as they hard off due to the lack of fertilizers.
When the trees fall short of fertilizers, they begin to develop resistance against the harsh weather conditions they will face in the winter season. Since the winter season essentially stops these plants’ growth, this is the right time for you to prune off the excess branches.
Avoiding Too Many Fertilizers
Much like many other flowering trees and plants, crepe myrtles are negatively influenced by the use of too many fertilizers. If the plant gets too much of a single nutrient, there is a huge chance that the plant will overgrow or will grow more leaves instead of flowers.
If you are working with fully grown crepe myrtles, you must only fertilize them once a year. The only exception being if the soil that you are growing them on is exceptionally poor.
How to Use Fertilizers
The best way to use fertilizers on crepe myrtles is to use a small quantity of the product around the plant or tree base. In case you have applied mulch to the base, there is no need to remove that. Much is great for crepe myrtles since it does not allow over-moisturizing the soil, leading to root rot.
The Best Fertilizers for Crepe Myrtles
Even though crepe myrtles do not need any special fertilizers, a few products are great for them. In the below-given list, we have consolidated five of the best fertilizers you can use to ensure your crepe myrtles’ optimum growth.
1. Espoma GF1010106 Garden Food
NPK ratio – 10-10-10
With the optimum NPK ratio, the Espoma GF1010106 Garden Food is a great agricultural grade fertilizer. If you have been growing crepe myrtle in excess and need a general-purpose fertilizer to suit your plants, this is a good choice. It provides the three major nutrients to the plants to promote vigorous flowering and growth.
This fertilizer is great if you want the plants to absorb nutrients quickly and make them flower better.
- Provides equal amounts of the three major nutrients
- Inculcated vigorous growth in all flowering plants
- Agricultural grade fertilizing quality
- The product can be a solid chunk instead of being granular.
2. Florikan 14-14-14 Plus Controlled Release Fertilizer
NPK ratio – 14-14-14
This is a versatile fertilizer that provides equal amounts of the essential nutrients to the crops. Once you start using this fertilizer for crepe myrtle, there is no going back. That is because it fulfills all the requirements for the plant’s perfect fertilization.
This is a 100% polymer-coated fertilizer. It, therefore, ensures that the nutrients are only slowly seeping into the soil. Since it is great for short crops, using it on small variants of crepe myrtle is a good idea.
- Slow releasing
- Equal supply of all nutrients
- Great for short crops
- A large concentration of all nutrients, therefore, should be used in small quantities.
3. Crepe Myrtle Plant Food
NPK ratio- 8-55-7
This is a fertilizer that was made with a special focus on crepe myrtles. It, therefore, provides all the necessary nutrients in the right quantity. It helps in giving the plants a stronger overall root. This fertilizer is rich in micronutrients. This is good for providing vitamins to the plants.
Because this fertilizer has a high phosphorous content, it promotes very healthy blooming. Even though it allows for nutrients to be released immediately, the release format is very slow.
- Slow releasing
- High Phosphorous content
- It is especially formalized for crepe myrtle.
- Should only be used in certain circumstances of very low phosphorous content in the soil
4. Nelson Plant Food Grown Granular Fertilizer
NPK ratio – 10-15-9
This is another plant fertilizer that was created specifically for crepe myrtle. It is great to use on all other flowering plants as well. The high nitrogen level ensures that the plant can sustain normal growth, while the high potassium ensures that the flowers are immune to many infections.
Just like the previous fertilizer, this too can release nutrients instantly. Watering over this fertilizer makes the plants absorb the nutrients quickly.
- High phosphate level
- Can release nutrients instantly
- Easy to use
- Might not release nutrients slowly over long periods.
5. Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Flower & Vegetable
NPK ratio – 14-14-14
The nutrients packed in this fertilizer ensure that the plant is grown in the best conditions to bloom. While this fertilizer’s nutrient value is quite high, it isn’t laced with too many chemicals. Therefore, the leaves do not tend to sustain chemical scorches and other drawbacks.
This fertilizer has one of the best slow-releasing formulas that are possible to achieve in fertilizers. This fertilizer is no doubt one of the best fertilizers available for crepe myrtle.
- Best slow-release formula
- High nutrient value
- Not too high a chemical composition
- It might be too expensive for domestic use
Frequently Asked Questions
Given below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about crepe myrtles.
1. Why is it That My Crepe Myrtle Will Not Bloom?
There are majorly two reasons that will make your crepe myrtle stop blooming. You have either pruned your tree too much, which has led you to permanently cutting off the buds, or the soil is devoid of nitrogen and phosphorous.
2. Can Not Pruning Crepe Myrtles Be Bad?
Yes, if you do not prune your crepe myrtles, you might cause them harm. This is because when the branches grow longer, they will collide with one another. This will form knots in the branches and will make the tree look very untidy. Additionally, the branches will not get space to bloom.
3. What Might Be the Reason for My Crepe Myrtle’s Leave Turning Orange?
Only two things can turn the leaves orange. Either it is an autumn season, and the tree is in a dormant state, or the leaves are affected with Cercospora Leaf Spot. Both the problems are fixable. However, the latter might need some extensive treatment and pruning.
4. Is it Possible to Revive a Dead Crepe Myrtle?
In case you scratch on the surface of the bark and see the green inside, it means that the tree can be revived. However, in other situations, you can not revive it. All that a crepe myrtle needs for revival are dead-heading and the next season will witness a brand-new life in the tree.
5. How Much Should I Water My Crepe Myrtle?
A dosage of one inch of water per week is enough to grow a crepe myrtle properly. However, during cold and dry external atmospheric conditions, you can double the dosage for best results. Ensure that at least 4 feet area around the tree is devoid of shrubs and weed so that it does not have to compete for water.
6. How Long Can I Expect My Crepe Myrtle to Survive?
Crepe Myrtles have a slightly longer life expectancy than other flowering trees. It has a lifespan of staggering 50 years. This is proof of how much the trees can survive on their own instead of depending on other factors.
Crepe Myrtles are beautiful shrubs or trees that are easy to grow. Due to their long-life expectancy, they are capable from the beginning of fighting off many issues. However, since they are prone to root rot and catching fungus, they need to be taken care of. Only a little bit of fertilizers is enough for their optimum growth. They need a decent dosage of all three essential nutrients.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.