Crape Myrtle Fertilizer Needs: How To Fertilize Crape Myrtle Trees

By: Teo Spengler

Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) is a useful flowering shrub or smalltree for warm climates. Given proper care, these plants offer abundant andcolorful summer blossoms with few pest or disease issues. Fertilizing crapemyrtle is an integral part of its care.

If you want to know how and when to fertilizer this plant,read on for tips on feeding crape myrtles.

Crape Myrtle Fertilizer Needs

With very little maintenance, crape myrtles will provide brilliantcolor for many years. You will need to start by siting them in sunny spots inwell cultivated soil and then fertilizing crape myrtle shrubs appropriately.

Crape myrtle fertilizer needs depend a large part on thesoil you plant them in. Consider getting a soilanalysis before you start. Generally, feeding crape myrtles will make yourplants look better.

How to Fertilize Crape Myrtle

You’ll want to start feeding with a general-purpose,well-balanced garden fertilizer. Use 8-8-8, 10-10-10, 12-4-8, or 16-4-8fertilizer. A granular product works well for crape myrtle.

Take care not to overfertilize. Too much food for crapemyrtles makes them growmore foliage and less flowers. It’s better to use too little than too much.

When to Fertilizer Crape Myrtle

When you are planting young shrubs or trees, place granularfertilizer along the perimeter of the planting hole.

Assuming the plants are transferred from one-galloncontainers, use one teaspoon of fertilizer per plant. Use proportionately lessfor smaller plants. Repeat this monthly from spring to late summer, watering inwell or applying just after a rain.

For established plants, simply broadcast the granularfertilizer in spring before new growth begins. Some gardeners repeat this inautumn. Use one pound of 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 sq. ft. If youuse 12-4-8 or 16-4-8 fertilizer, cut that amount in half. The square footage inthe root area is determined by the branch spread of the shrubs.

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How Much Super Phosphate for Crape Myrtles?

We have three crape myrtle trees - a Natchez (about 20 feet tall) and two Muskogees (about 15 feet tall). They bloom a little but not nearly as much as they should.

I purchased some Super Phosphate (not triple) - Hi-Yield brand. The directions just say "a light covering on ground six inches away from stems." Understanding that less is better but still hoping for more blooms this year, would anyone care to expand on that? A cup? Two cups?

Do you use it on anything else in your garden?

I would suggest you have your soil tested by your local extension office before applying anything. Your environment is certainly much different from here, where we have way too much naturally occurring phosphorous in our soils, but just to be on the safe side, I would check first. They could also tell you what else in your garden might benefit from a dose.

It has been my experience that once a crape myrtle is established they need little attention. They want sun and good drainage. The old trees you see around abandoned lots are always pretty. Could your trees be getting fertilizer from any nearby lawn grass? Too much nitrogen can cause CM's to bloom less.

Good thoughts, Ardesia. We'll do that. And they could be getting nitrogen from our grass fertilizer.

Entlie, for what it's worth, I test my soil EVERY year before planting, and it's helped. Because I have "squirely" soil conditions. Excessivley high Potassium/phosphate. Nobody at Clempsin has been willing to share with me how to correct/offset the problem, but at least they identified it, and that's half the battle!

Entie as you probably know crapes,bloom best on new wood.Icut the tops of my crapes about ten inches from the last years bloom and have an abundance of blooms,dont fertilizee them or water them and they even produce seedlings especcialy the acoma dwarf crape

Hoitider, good to know. Thanks.

The only thing I cut from my muskogee is the last years blooms. I want my crapes to grow and look as natural as possible. The Wilmington area is getting much better at preventing " Crape Murder" through out the town. They have such a lovely natural shape that I cannot understand for the life of me why folks prune them back so hard.

History! A bad practice that has been around too long. Eons ago they used to "pollard" trees.

When we first moved to SC in the 60's pollarding the CM's was traditional.

Pollarding is still a bad habit that continues to be passed down on both Crepe Myrtles and Mulberry trees in the Southwest. I get the urge to hand out flyers of pruning guidelines during the late fall when I see untrained and uncertified gardeners murdering trees and shrubs.

Maintenance Feeding

Fertilizing an established crape myrtle each spring helps the plant produce the most blossoms and also keeps it growing well. You can broadcast a balanced 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 formula on the area beneath the plant, covering the ground under the plant's branches as far out as they extend. The rate should be 1/2 pound of fertilizer for every 100 square feet of ground. One application in the spring is sufficient once a plant is well established and you should not exceed this rate, since too much fertilizer can stimulate growth of foliage over flowers. Adding fertilizer just before a rain is a good practice, since rain helps move nutrients into the soil quickly.

Southern gardeners love crape myrtles, but unfortunately most don’t know how to properly care for them.

University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agents regularly answer questions regarding proper care and maintenance of the popular flowering tree. The keys to success with crape myrtles include adequate sunlight, proper soil pH, good drainage, proper pruning, adequate fertilization, proper mulching and insect control.

They love the sun

Crape myrtles need full sun -- eight hours or more of direct sun daily -- in order to thrive and bloom Crape myrtles will not be their best will less than eight hours of direct sun light. Gardeners should check the sun patterns in their yards before planting crape myrtles.

Crape myrtles thrive in slightly acidic soils with a pH of about 6 to 6.5. If the pH level is off, the plant will not use fertilizer properly and the gardener will be left with substandard crape myrtles. You should take a soil sample to your local Extension office for testing if you don’t know your soil’s pH.

Prune in late winter, fertilize in early spring

Late winter is the time to prune crape myrtles but gardeners don’t need to prune all of their crape myrtles every year. Some trees may not need to be pruned.

Gardeners should prune the trees so that they maintain a natural shape and to thin out branches and allow light into the canopy. You should not cut off the top of your crape myrtle trees. This pruning method is so drastic it is often referred to as “crape murder.”

To maximize spring growth and summer bloom, gardeners should fertilize their crape myrtles in early spring just prior to new growth.

Fertilizers like 8-8-8, 10-10-10, 12-4-8 or 16-4-8 will work fine and are ideal for crape myrtles but you shouldn’t go over board.

Over fertilizing the trees will cause causes excess growth and reduce the number of blooms on each tree. You soil test results will include a recommendation for the proper fertilizer. You can apply the tree’s fertilizer directly over its mulch.

Mulch to fight weeds, trap moisture

Gardeners should mulch their crape myrtles after planting to conserve moisture, reduce weeds and insulate roots against extreme temperatures. There should be a layer of about 3 to 5 inches surrounding the tree. Gardeners should plan to mulch an area larger than the planting hole.

Insect damage is a frequent problem on crape myrtles, and aphids cause much of that damage.

Left unchecked, aphids will release bodily fluids onto the foliage, and the resulting honeydew can lead to sooty mold, a black discoloration that can occur in the summer and fall.

Sooty mold usually causes little damage, but it can reduce the plant’s vigor. You can plant crape myrtle cultivars that are resistant to aphids or treat other cultivars with insecticides to reduce sooty mold. As always, follow label directions on all pesticides.

By following the practices outlined here, your crape myrtles should perform their best this growing season and in years to come.

How to Grow Crape Myrtle Bushes in Containers

Many small crape myrtle shrubs are excellent for growing in pots. The potted crape myrtle bushes thrive in a rich, all-purpose potting mix with excellent drainage. Place the container in a sunny spot in your garden, patio, entrance-way, or backyard. Water the plant daily during the summer to keep the soil evenly moist.

Growing crape myrtle bushes in containers is not difficult. To encourage healthy growth, use a balanced slow-release fertilizer for houseplants. Stop fertilizing about eight weeks before the first frost. In temperate climates, bring the potted crape myrtle indoors at the end of fall.

Watch the video: How to Fertilize Trees

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