I planted this crape myrtle in May when I installed a new flowerbed at a new...

Asked June 30, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT

I planted this crape myrtle in May when I installed a new flowerbed at a new house. The soil was very compacted and lots of clay. I dug as large a hole as I could (as compacted as it was) and mixed compost in with the existing soil. I planted it and mulched it with pine bark mulch. We have had a lot of rain this year, and the soil seems to retain it because of the clay. I'm not sure what it *should* look like, or how much growth to expect in the first year I planted it. You can see in one of the pictures, the black eyed susans behind it are surviving okay, although there is no flowering on them either, but they look healthy enough. The zinneas (fill in flowers) are doing fine. The leaves just look kind of droopy on the crape myrtle, and have some red on them. Is there something I can do to help this crape myrtle along? Does it look okay?

Harford County Maryland shrubs crape myrtles not establishing

1 Response

The crape myrtle looks stressed and looks like it is struggling to establish itself. Consider your planting techniques and your watering schedule.
Make sure the shrub is not planted too deep. The planting hole should be dug deep enough to accommodate the plant with the top of the root ball level with, or just slightly above, ground level.
Make sure the mulch is no thicker than two inches and keep away from the base of the stem. You may need to pull the mulch away from the stem.
If the shrub was in a container and the roots were encircled in the container this can affect root growth. Container plants establish faster if you disturb the “around the pot” growth direction of the roots. Use a sharp knife or blade to cut four one-inch-deep cuts the length of the root ball. New roots will rapidly grow from the cut areas of the roots. You still have time to lift and replant if this was an issue.

Check the soil moisture of newly planted trees and shrubs at least once a week. Soil that is moist or damp to the touch is fine. If the soil begins to dry out, water the plant thoroughly. Do not overwater.
See our website for more information on the planting process and post care of the plants. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/trees-and-shrubs/planting-process