The Q&A Archives: Rejuvenating Crape Myrtle

Question: My young crape myrtle, planted last spring (1996) is only now, in mid-May, beginning to leaf out. Probably 75% of the plant still appears dead. Is my best recourse to prune it back hard or leave it alone and see what happens? What is the best treatment for what looked like mildew all over the leaves last year? Thanks. Lorna Dunklee Haymarket, VA

Answer: Crape myrtles thrive in most soil types except excessively dry soils. They are very sensitive to root disturbance and don't take well to transplanting. How was the plant last summer? Did it look OK? Since it is just beginning to leaf out, I would wait a while before giving up on it. Are you sure your variety of crape myrtle is hardy in your area? Do you see others growing around you? If, after several weeks, some branches are growing fine and others are dead, I would prune out the dead branches. I would leave the others alone so they can help the plant build up some strength.

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