Dormant Crape Myrtle - Knowledgebase Question

Miami, FL
Avatar for jgleason8
Question by jgleason8
February 18, 1998
Last summer I began noticing that Landscapers have planted hundreds of standard Crape Myrtles along roadways in Miami. They looked beautiful in summer but now (mid-Feb) look completely dead. These plants were very uncommon in Miami until just recently soI know nothing about them. Last summer I purchased what I presumed to be a dwarf variety of Crape Myrtle at a home center. They were tagged as "Crape Myrtlette". They grew little, retained blooms through the summer but began dwindling as fall approached. Now, like the standards I see on the roadways, they look completely dead. Is this normal? Very few plants in Miami go completely dormant in winter. If so, when can I expect to see new growth begin and should I prune and how much? There is little danger of frost as I am in the South Miami area. I water every few days during dry spells. Any information you can give about what to expect from these plants in this area would be appreciated. The merchants in the area do not seem to know much, perhaps because Crape Myrtles are only recenlty being used here.

Answer from NGA
February 18, 1998
I think what you are seeing is the dormant period for your Crape Myrtle (Logerstroemia. Frost and freezes are not the only cause for a plant to go dormant. Shorter days in winter can bring on dormancy.

Now is the time to prune your Crape Myrtle.I don't know how you have trained your tree or shrub. The small plants should be trimmed back some every year. Not drastically, but depending on last year's growth, a few inches anyway. This will give you more bloom this summer. Remove any suckers that come up at the base of the plant, unless you are keeping it as a shrub. If you are keeping it as a shrub allow as many suckers to grow as you want.

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