Transplanted crepe myrtle

Asked June 13, 2019, 3:42 PM EDT

We needed to remove a "Tonto" crepe myrtle planted 3-4 years ago. We decided we would try to save it and replant it in another area of the yard. Foolishly we did not oversee the guys who transplanted the tree for us because they said they had experience. We didn't want to pay a fortune and knew there was a good chance it would not survive but we decided to take the chance. The tree was moved in late April. The tree did not appear to be thriving; the leaves are small and not nearly as lush as the others in our yard. Upon inspection yesterday, we discovered that it was planted nearly 11 inches too deep and they probably didn't dig up the root ball big enough. ....lesson learned. So, anyway, we are going to try to save the tree if there's any chance. We dug it up and replanted it at it's orginal height. Do you have any suggestions that may increase it's chance of survival? Should we prune it, either lightly or severely due to the size of the root ball? Do I feed it? not feed it? I imagine I should keep it watered regularly, but how much is too much? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. We realize this is a long shot, but want to at least try. I have attached photos.I drew a line to show how deeply they planted it. It doesn't look bad in the photo, but up close the leaves are smaller than they should be and I cannot see any new growth. We are in Lutherville Md. Thanks.

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

Crape myrtles are surprisingly tough. Yours will have to completely re-establish its root system this summer, so don't be alarmed by the small leaf size or lack of new growth. It is concentrating on roots. You did well to realize it was planted too deeply!

Do keep it watered this summer. Plants like soil as moist as a wrung-out sponge. One inch of water a week is standard when plants are established. So, keep a sharp eye on your rainfall. Use a rain gauge so you really know how much water your plants are getting. Storms can be deceptively light on rain. An empty metal can is fine to catch rainfall.

When surface soil is dry, check down about 2". If it's dry, water generously. Your crape myrtle is large, so it will need several gallons at a watering. A deep watering is better than several superficial ones.

As for fertilizer, we recommend a one time liquid fertilizer application at planting or transplanting time. Go ahead and do that now. Do not keep applying fertilizer.

If you mulch, keep it back a few inches from the trunk. Mulch should never touch or be piled on bark. As it decomposes, it will feed the soil, and thus the tree. Adding compost on the soil in fall is also fine. Mulch also moderates temperature swings.