I purchased five B&B Natchez white crepe myrtles from a wholesale nursery in late March and planted them the next day. They still have not leafed out. Is this normal? Scratching the bark on any size limb shows green healthy tissue.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Jeff in Louisiana: Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia) are a great Southern planting. They are grown in hardiness zones 6 through 9. In Kentucky we do not recommend planting these until later in the spring or early summer because they can be temperamental in our zone(s). We also avoid planting them later in the fall for the same reason. This should not be the case for you since Louisiana is located in zones 8 and 9. In ideal conditions your Natchez crape myrtles should have put on new growth by now, but the fact that the cambium layer is still green means they are still alive. There is always a certain amount of stress involved when trees are dug and replanted. It may be that they just need extra time to get their roots settled. At this point it is a waiting game. As long as they were planted properly and are given sufficient moisture, it sounds like they will be fine. Newly planted trees should receive 1.5-2 inches of water per week from April through October. Hopefully Mother Nature provides this, but if not then you will need to hand water. It is best to avoid fertilizing for the first year and let the trees become established in the environment that exists naturally. If they do not leaf out in the next few weeks, you should check into the guarantee policy from the nursery where you purchased them.