We just planted a 10-foot moskogee crape myrtle in an area of our yard that gets sun from 12 p.m.-7 p.m. We planted it the day before yesterday, watered it well, and then it rained all day the next day. The third day, it was about 70 degrees, windy, and I just noticed that it has wilted leaves and powdery mildew (even after we had just treated it with a Bayer brand fungus spray for trees). Is it wilting because of shock or disease? It seems like it had enough water because of the rainy day, but I didn’t water it today. Please help. I don’t want my tree to die!
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Kristi: It sounds like you chose a good space for planting your crape myrtle. It will be happy with the amount of sunlight it will receive in that space. There is always a certain amount of transplant stress involved with planting a new tree. Minimizing the stress is important for a healthy long-lived tree. Proper planting is just as important as watering or any other aspect of tree care. The hole should have been dug just as deep as the container it was purchased in and twice as wide. This allows space for the roots to expand. How much did you water and was the rain a soaking rain or just a drizzle? Remember only to water the roots and not the foliage of your tree. Watering the leaves can cause problems such as powdery mildew. Did this tree have powdery mildew when you purchased it? When did you spray the fungicide? It is hard to say what is causing your tree to wilt but I would guess it is probably a watering issue. Does the soil drain well in the space where you planted it? The new plantings should be watered two to three times per week for the first couple of months. A thin layer of mulch will help keep the soil moist. Make sure not to pile the mulch up on the trunk of the tree and keep it 2 inches or less in thickness. You might call the garden center/nursery and see if they have someone who can come take a look at your new planting. For now keep the soil evenly moist, do not spray, and avoid fertilizing for the first year.