How to plant your Crape Myrtle
Seasonal Information. Ensure that your Crape Myrtle is planted at least four weeks before your first frost. This will give your tree an opportunity to adjust to its new environment. If your area is experiencing extreme heat, place your potted tree in a well-shaded area, such as a garage, or plant it in a well shaded area of your lawn. Once mature, your tree will be able to handle these temperatures. Typically, though, trees do not experience much growth during times of intense temperature.
Location. Crape Myrtles flourish best in full sun, which will provide exceptional flowering. While the trees will grow in a shaded area, optimal fullness will not be attained, and flowering will be greatly minimized. Any moderate to well-drained soil is acceptable for planting (including clay, loam, or sandy soils), so long as the soil is oxygenated. The ideal pH level for the soil is 6.5, though levels 5.5 – 7.5 are suitable as well.
Planting Instructions. When digging the planting hole for your Crape Myrtle, ensure that its width & depth will accommodate the present root system of the tree. Your tree will benefit more from a substantial planting area than it will from having its roots cut to fit a smaller one. After removing your tree from its container, use your fingers to tease out the roots and ensure moisture. This will encourage them to grow quickly into the soil. Make sure that that the roots are spread evenly and surrounded by dirt to ensure that no pockets of air are present. Once your tree is positioned straight & level, fill the hole back in with its original soil. Pack the loose soil firmly around the roots.
Watering. Crape Myrtle trees should be watered 1-5 times each week, depending on the time of year the tree was planted, as well as the type of soil being utilized. A mature Crape Myrtle will prove to be relatively drought resistant. Younger trees, however, will require adequate water, especially during extended dry periods. Light green leaves can be a sign of over watering, while drooping leaves can be a sign of both over or under watering.
Fertilization. Use only slow-release fertilizer tablets during the first growing season. It is recommended that a stronger fertilizer not be used until the tree becomes more established. Miracle Grow can be used, a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 fertilizer. Fertilize twice a month when your tree is coming out of dormancy, once a month during the summer, and stop the fertilization before the tree returns to its dormant state.
Weed Control. Prevent weeds & lawn from growing any closer than 2-3 feet from your Crape Myrtle in the first year. Pull the weeds initially, and then a growing mat or mulch can be used. Avoid spraying Roundup on a young tree, and make certain that wind does not blow chemical drift onto your tree.
Pests & Disease. The best defense is a healthy tree. Good soil, proper feeding and adequate water are vital to its prosperity.
Deer. Crape Myrtles are known for being deer-resistant. However, if you would still like to take preventative measures against any deer related issues, sprinkle some “Deer Away” on the top of the tree until it grows beyond the reach of a deer.
Pets. The Crape Myrtle tree is not poisonous, so no harm will come to your pets. Nevertheless, pets should be discouraged from nibbling the tree when it is young and developing.
Winter Dormancy. During late fall and winter, your tree will enter its dormant state. When this occurs, the leaves will fall off and the stem will turn brown. Above ground, nothing will take place during this time, but the roots of your tree will continue to grow beneath the surface. This winter root development will accelerate the growth of your tree come spring.