Crepe Myrtle - Trimmed Last Fall

Asked June 28, 2018, 5:43 AM EDT

Hey There! I am a local landscaper out of Calvert County, MD. Last fall, late October Early November, I trimmed back approximately 7 Crepe Myrtles for a customer in Chesapeake Beach. 6 of the trees have come back and are thriving, but one has died. The customer is concerned that it may have been my trimming practice that killed the tree, but I do not believe so. The fact that the other trees are thriving and only one has yet to come back makes me believe it may have to do with weather or soil conditions. I have attached a picture of one of the thriving trees that has come back, and a picture of the not-so-thriving tree. Please note that it has new chutes growing at the base of the trunk. What does that mean? Why would this happen to just one of the trees? Is there a way of knowing how/what caused this?

Calvert County Maryland abiotic issues crapemyrtle dieback trees

1 Response

We don't think that you caused the demise of this crapemyrtle.
There could be multiple factors involved working in concert.
First off, upon close inspection, it looks like the tree was in decline already based on the cracking branches and sloughing bark evident on the remaining limbs.
Slow decline of trees and shrubs can happen from being stressed over time by things like being planted too deeply, too much mulch (only 2-3 inches and always pull back from trunks and stems), drought, etc. See the Cultural/Environmental tab on this page: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/trees-and-shrubs/common-plant-and-pest-problems-trees-and-shrubs

It's important to remember that many types of Crapemyrtles are not entirely winter- hardy to our area either. We had a tough winter and many people experienced dieback of their plants. The shoots coming from the base means that the root portion is not dead, and it is trying to come back. That's a good thing if they are willing to wait. They might even get flowers as soon as this season or next, but it won't be a big tree form for a few years.
As far as why this one and not others? Again, there are many possiblilities like those listed above, but just like people, plants are individuals, and some are stronger than others.

For the future, the best time to prune Crapemyrtles is in the spring.
Here is our pruning publication that will be helpful for best results:
https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/hgic/HGIC_Pubs/TreesandShrubs...

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