TX Organic Research Center



Crape Myrtle Winter Damage

It has come to my attention that there has been some winter damage on crape myrtles.  The organiphobes who are heavy into crape myrtles these days are giving out some really bad advice.  They are saying to cut the dead stems back to the ground, which is fine, but this should only be done on completely dead stems.  Then the recommendation goes on to advise fertilizing the trees heavily every 6 Ė 8 weeks with a high-nitrogen fertilizer, which means synthetic fertilizer of course.  Thatís horrible advice.  Gentle organic fertilizer such as aerated compost tea or one of the natural meals is all that should be used.

Now letís discuss why these trees had freeze damage in the first place.  Sure it got cold, but only some trees had damage.  Itís true that some varieties are weaker than others but all are weaker when fertilized with the high-nitrogen, synthetic fertilizers.  This is the photo used in one of the newsletters showing a crape myrtle that is at least 6Ē too deep in the ground.

Itís too bad that the recommendation wasnít given to uncover this treeís root flare. Without question, trees in stress are more sensitive to freeze damage and without question, buried root flares causes stress in trees.

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