Trees and Shrubs forum: Overwintering a potted Crepe Myrtle

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Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
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Natalie
Nov 3, 2015 12:39 AM CST
I was one of the lucky winners of the Not-A-Raffle-Raffle a couple of months ago, and got to pick a beautiful crepe myrtle, provided by Plant Me Green. Since the plant was arriving a little late in the year, it was suggested by them that I overwinter it in an unheated garage, which I plan on doing.

My problem is that I have no idea when I should move it inside. All but maybe 3 or 4 of the leaves have dropped, and it should get to freezing or below pretty soon. Also, do I need to water it over winter?

I have never grown a crepe myrtle before, and I've never had a shrub that needed to be brought in for the winter, so I don't know what to do! Any help would be most appreciated!
Natalie
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Nov 6, 2015 8:23 AM CST
Congrats on your prize! Although you're expecting frosty air soon, the ground won't freeze for a while. If you can make it think you want it to die, it should thrive beyond your wildest expectations! I've never tended one in a pot to have any basis for comparison, but the dug-up roots (from digging grass to make a new flower bed near a CM tree) that I casually threw in flower beds this spring considered their plight a challenge, and kept growing! I almost started a disastrous little forest of them. This plant has very determined roots.

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Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Nov 6, 2015 11:01 AM CST
Thanks Tiffany! I have never grown one, and I never grow anything in pots, so I am lost. The lady at Plant Me Green said it would be best to put it in a protected area for the winter, if leaving it outside, but I don't have a protected area where I live. That is when she suggested bringing it inside. I had to do that a couple of nights ago, because it was going to get close to freezing. I'll be planting it in a spot next Spring where it will need to be tough! No shade, horrible hot sun, and lots of wind!

I'm glad you mentioned the roots! I had no idea about that, so it is nice to know that I can expand my number of plants that way! Hurray!

I haven't tried to skydive, since I don't always succeed on my first try at other things! Hilarious!
Natalie
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
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flaflwrgrl
Dec 6, 2015 7:04 PM CST
Even though I don't have this kind of situation, I am very curious about how one is supposed to treat a plant like this over the winter in a pot in the garage. Water? No water? Water sparingly? Shrug!
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Dec 6, 2015 7:06 PM CST
Maybe @DavidLMO can help out as he grows many plants in MO that are too tender to leave outdoors in his zone over winter.
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Dec 6, 2015 7:19 PM CST
Thanks Ann. I had given up hope of getting any help with this, so hopefully someone can tell me what to do!
Natalie
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Dec 6, 2015 7:34 PM CST
I sure hope so Natalie. I'm so curious I can't stand it.
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
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DavidLMO
Dec 7, 2015 10:55 PM CST
Sorry - I just saw this in System Messages quite by accident. Thought I was supposed to get a tmail.

A Crape Myrtle is hardy in Zone 7 - heck they are root hardy here in Zone 5 B. I have 5 3 YO old plants, 2 2 YO plants and one that I grew from seed in 2014 - it is 2 feet tall. They all made it thru last winter - which was not horrible, but pretty bad none the less.

The 2 2 YO plants were planted in early November 2014. As it turned out, I did not even mulch them. I forgot. Sticking tongue out

If I had this plant here, I would probably simply plant it in the ground, water well, mulch with leaves to a foot and wish it well. In the next few days it will be in upper 50s here and things are going whacky. I have heathers blooming. Blinking Note that if you do plant it, place it in its final location.

Second best would be to sink the pot, water well and mulch with leaves to a foot deep. Preferably on South or East side of house near a foundation.

I wonder why they suggested wintering a Crape Myrtle it over in the garage in Zone 7?

@flaflwrgrl - For stuff that I over winter in the garage - I water sparingly, but ~ once a month or so. I check the plants weekly. The plants tend to tend look like hell by Spring, but I lost nothing last year - including Calibrachoa which is way out of zone here, but is a tender perennial, geraniums, and other plants. It got down to right at 32 in my garage and it is unheated for all practical purposes.

@Natalie - If you decide to keep it in the garage, give it a drink now and water once a month or so over winter sparingly. Don' be shy, but don't drench it either. If there is a window, place it near the window. Put a couple pieces of cardboard or plywood on the floor under any pots you store there.

From what you said above, it sounds like the plant has shut down for winter. Note that it will likely be a bit late to arouse in spring (CM's nature), so don't think it is dead. Bring it out after last frost. In my area that would be around Mother's day.

Good luck. Be happy to answer any other questions you my have.

In Zone 7 your Crape Myrtle should flourish and become a real tree. They are beautiful. In my zone, they mostly die down to the ground like a perennial and the top regrows. But one of mine, Muskogee, had about half its growth that made it through winter last year ~ 10 feet. I had it wrapped in burlap stuffed with leaves to 3 feet.

I have:

Muskogee
Pink Velour
Dynamite
Sioux
NOID
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
[Last edited by DavidLMO - Dec 7, 2015 11:01 PM (+)]
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Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Dec 7, 2015 11:32 PM CST
@DavidLMO

Thanks so much David! I really think it is much too late to plant it in the ground. If this winter is anything like last winter, it will be a beast. Or, if it keeps going like it has, it will be somewhat normal. I'm still kind of new here, so I'm not sure what to expect, but we just had almost two weeks of not getting above freezing for the high, and now, it isn't below freezing for the low. Blinking

The CM is now in the unheated shop/garage, with all the leaves gone. I'll give it a drink tomorrow, and will keep an eye on it. With the raffle prize provider telling me that I should keep it in an unheated garage, that is where it went. I do have a heated bathroom/storage room in there though, because that is where our water storage tank is for the well. We don't exactly keep it warm in there, but we do make sure that it doesn't freeze in there with a space heater. I don't think the shop froze last year though, and it was brutally cold. Would you think it would be better to put it in the bathroom? We only turn the heater on when it will be below freezing. If that isn't a good idea, I can put it on the work bench in front of the window in the unheated area. Right now, it is away from the window, on the cement. I'll put cardboard under it in the morning. Great suggestion on that, too, and I hadn't even thought about that. I'm clueless when it comes to this stuff!

I really have no place to plant it in the ground, in the pot, up against the house, so I've got my fingers crossed that it will survive the winter inside. I really appreciate all of your help! This is my first CM, and I'm so excited to have it!
Natalie
[Last edited by Natalie - Dec 8, 2015 11:41 AM (+)]
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Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
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DavidLMO
Dec 8, 2015 12:07 AM CST
Welcome!

Sometimes we do keep odd things even indoors. And if that is what the vendor suggested ... they often know best. Last year in September I bought a Hardy Musa Basjoo banana and they said keep it inside. Big Grin OK ...so I kept it in my basement grow area and it did okay. Planted it out on Mothers Day and it grew to 7 feet. This winter I am over wintering a Hardy Windmill Palm indoors and will plant it out next Spring. It is in my unused back bedroom.

I see no need to place it in the bathroom. Frankly - the warmer will NOT necessarily be the better. That plant is hardy up to Zone 6 I believe (in general - I have no idea what you have). Just do NOT give it any fertilizer or any other stuff over winter. Just some water.

It is better not to put stuff in a garage in pots directly on the cement - that transfer cold big time.

I am sure it will do okay. Just remember - crape myrtle are late to come out of dormancy. And when you bring it out after last frost, don't place it directly in sun. Do it gradually. After you get it planted and it has been in the ground for a month or so, I would give it a half strength shot of fertilizer. Or better yet - when I plant anything in the ground, I give them some Quick Start, UpStart, Plant Starter or similar. Helps prevent transplant shock.

CM like a lot of sun and check your care information for siting - they can get pretty big in Zone 7. A couplke of years and it will be awesome. Hurray!
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Dec 8, 2015 6:31 AM CST
Thank You! David! I tip my hat to you.
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Dec 8, 2015 11:57 AM CST
Thanks again, David!

I have Best Red, which is also known as Ebony Flame Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia 'Ebony Flame')

I hope you don't mind, but I've got another question. Will putting it in front of the window do any harm? There really is no way to put it on the floor in the general area of the window. I'll have to put it on the work bench, which is closer to the level of the window. Should I set it off to the side, or directly in front of the window? The window is South facing, so it will get a little warmth from the sun, if it is directly in front of the window. I think I can set it off to the side of the window, but it might get a little warmth, if it gets warm enough outside. It may also get a little bit of direct sun, depending on where the sun is. It is really a shop, and not so much a garage. We keep the tractor and travel trailer in there, but it is a large building, and not small and cozy like a garage might be.

Sorry for all the questions! I know nothing at all about the plant, and even though I've read up on it, overwintering something inside is new territory for me! I probably should have planted it when it arrived, but went with the advice that I was given by the company that sent it, because I didn't want to take any chances on losing it. They actually suggested that I grow it in a pot, and move it indoors every winter, but that isn't something I am willing to do. We planted some trees and shrubs in early October, but they came from a more local, native nursery, and we figured they had a good chance of surviving, no matter what we did! This one made me nervous! I have acreage, so I've got plenty of room for the plant to grow. I've got the perfect spot picked out for it, where it can grow as big as it wants, and hopefully it will get big! I want to be able to see it, so I'm planting it where it hopefully creates a screen for the deck, so that the neighbors about 3/4 of a mile away can't see anything over here with binoculars. Rolling on the floor laughing

Natalie
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Dec 8, 2015 9:41 PM CST
Natalie said:

They actually suggested that I grow it in a pot, and move it indoors every winter, but that isn't something I am willing to do. Rolling on the floor laughing


That is THE most rediculous thing I have ever heard with respect to a Crape Myrtle. ABSURD. Who supplied this plant?
Bringing in a 12 - 30 foot tall tree indoors? Preposturous. Aside from the fact it would likely die. Even keeping it in a pot, it would likely get 10 or more feet tall.

In terms of location, being a South window, I would not put it right in the window, but perhaps off side a ways so it gets a bit of indirect light. While it likely will not freeze, there is still a risk of very cold - thaw - very cold - thaw if kept in the direct sun from the window. That for a plant is killer and a reason for sinking pots rather than just sitting them on top the soil..

I hope I indicated I am winging it here as well, cause I never wintered over a Crape Myrtle inside, nor in general would I.

Last year about this time I bought ~ 7 shrubs from Earl May and 10 4-6 " pot Perennials @ 2 $ each. Big time sale - $5 each for shrubs that listed for 30 - 70 $. I brought them home, dug trenches in my vegetable garden, sank the pots, watered them in and piled 2 feet of leaves and straw over them. That is my preferred treatment for very late season potted plants if it is too late to plant.
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Dec 9, 2015 12:12 AM CST
I won it from Plant Me Green, and they were under the assumption that I was in zone 6a, since that is what most zone maps show. My general area varies a huge amount though, as far as the zone goes, thanks to the large change in altitude. We live in a river canyon, and we're only 1,750 feet above sea level. The river is at 800 feet, and it goes uphill from our house, to about 3,500 feet. They were just trying to give me the best chance of it surviving, and I've got no complaints at all about the company. They were very nice, and very helpful, but I didn't want to bother them with all of my questions, so I asked here instead.

I'd assume that if I really was in zone 6, that the plant would die off, and it never would achieve its full potential, so bringing it in during winter would be no big deal. It will have a much better chance though, in my warmer zone. It isn't much warmer, but warmer enough that it matters. My location also makes a big difference. Our property is south facing, so what snow we get usually melts very quickly. The same can't be said, just down the road, where it is more forested. The snow doesn't melt there for most of the winter. So, location is everything here!

We moved here from Utah two years ago, where we were in zone 5a. I'd never consider planting anything outside in October there, because I had zero success when I tried. Our elevation there was 4,600 feet, and we usually had about 5 feet of of snow on the ground during winter. So, I'm still stuck in that frame of mind, since we've only been here a short time, and I'm still figuring things out, as to what will do okay and what won't. All of my real gardening experience is from Utah, and I've only been gardening about 13 years, since my husband retired from the Navy. I have a lot to learn, and now I have to relearn most of what I had learned previously, because of how much warmer it is here!
Natalie
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
Seed Starter Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Level 1
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DavidLMO
Dec 9, 2015 9:28 AM CST
Good luck. Keep us posted. You might want to do some further research on Bing or Google
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Name: Natalie
North Central Idaho (Zone 7a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Frogs and Toads Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Native Plants and Wildflowers
Cottage Gardener Dog Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Region: United States of America Echinacea Xeriscape
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Natalie
Dec 9, 2015 10:09 AM CST
Thanks! Thumbs up
Natalie

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