Crape Myrtle die-back?

Asked May 17, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT

This Tuscarora crape myrtle was planted in 2006 and has seemingly thrived until this spring. The tree is 12-15' tall. It was planted according to recommendations and has been fertilized with Hollytone 3 or 4 times (each time in the fall). It gets full sun for much of the day. This year's new leaves are well back from the tips of the branches - as much as 4-5 feet in from the tips. The ends of the lower branches appear to be dead (brittle - snap off easily). I have not tried to reach the upper branches. The new leaves look healthy and pest-free.

Questions: I see now, from the answer to another question, that this is likely due to the cold winter and that I should cut it back. Is it better to cut the branches back to the new growth or to cut it way back? Should I fertilize it? Thanks.

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

You are correct. Crapemyrtles in our area took a hit during the winter with quite a bit of die back, if not flat out death of newly planted shrubs.
Once you are sure that the tree has leaved out, just remove any dead material.
You can test some branches now. Starting at the ends and working backwards, If they snap when bent or if when you scratch the bark with your fingernail and it shows dark, dead tissue beneath, it can be removed.