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How I almost killed my entire crepe myrtle delivery

five low growing (2-3') baby crepe myrtles in front of crinum lilies and Joseph's coat

Crepe myrtles have been making me drool lately.

Red ones, lavender ones, pink ones, and even white ones. Ones with green leaves, red leaves, and black leaves.

Mostly, I have been filling up with trees, but I have discovered shrubs, both small and medium sized, and I just had to mail order them. I called around to local nurseries, they just didn’t carry them. Although, I know I purchased the three I have in my full sun garden from local suppliers a year-and-a-half ago.

raspberry crepe myrtle bush in bloom
three raspberry crepe myrtle bushes coming into bloom in the sun garden and one crepe myrtle year old tree on the left not in bloom.

Online, I picked a crepe myrtle specialist from Florida figuring the plants would be better acclimated to our extreme weather conditions. Plus they wouldn’t have to travel in the summer heat all the way from Oregon or California like many of the other mail order plants I purchased.

new bush crepe myrtle with penta and crinum
new bush crepe myrtle with penta and crinum and allamanda in the back

I was so excited when they arrived! I read the instructions and planted them right away in really good potting soil in the ground.

I purchased three 4 to 5-foot (at maturity) bushes. I was extremely surprised that the company added an extra plant, so now I have four. Happy, happy!

I also purchased five 2-foot shrubs that would go in half day sun. A couple of these would be in sun longer because of the way the location is situated.

Here are the five I planted in front of the crinum lilies in the flamingo garden.

five low growing (2-3') baby crepe myrtles in front of crinum lilies and Joseph's coat
five low growing (2-3′) baby crepe myrtles in front of crinum lilies and Joseph’s coat.

Well, it didn’t take but two or three days in the blistering sun to realize that… even though the grower is in Florida, full sun does not mean full sun… at least not right away and not for these babies.

The 4-5′ at maturity bushes fared much better in full sun. While I do check on them every day, they have recovered from shock and are starting to grow.

Every evening I would water all them so they could recover from the days rays but the littles ones just kept shriveling up. Two of them were fine, but three had to be removed and placed in a pot with good soil in a location that receives just morning sun.

After a week, I started seeing new leaves where the others had fallen off. Whew! I saved them. These really are remarkable plants.

As a matter of fact, I saw two babies popping up under my favorite pink crepe myrtle (not part of this order). Since they were too close to the stairs and walkway, I plucked them out and transplanted them in sunny locations. They too declined rapidly. One was so bad I nearly threw it on the compost heap, but I decided to throw a Hail Mary and stuck it in my trellis planter in part sun with the vincas and Joseph’s coats. Wouldn’t you know, after a few days, it too came back to life. Its sister sprouted new leaves and is thriving as well in a hot afternoon sun locale!

I have since moved the one I nearly left for dead out of my planter and put it in a pot next to the two footer sized crepes I saved from myself.

wounded warrior crepe myrtles recovering from too much sun in July
wounded warrior crepe myrtles recovering from too much sun in July. the pot at the top is the tree with two trunks. the bottom plants are the small shrub crepe myrtles.

Upon rereading the planting instructions from the mail order nursery, I saw something I didn’t really notice before. The company says that the number one reason their customer crepe myrtles die is due to overwatering. And they say DO NOT OVERWATER and DO NOT WATER DAILY multiple times in the instructions. They also say DO NOT FERTILIZE the first year (which I did not do).

They also provide the following advice: “Summer is in full swing. We’re asked all the time if it’s too hot to plant: The answer is a resounding¬†NO, IT’S NOT TOO HOT to PLANT! Crape Myrtle roots grow the fastest when the soil is hot, so now is the Perfect Time to Plant!¬† They have plenty of time to establish their roots before winter!”

I am very happy with my purchase and may purchase more plants from this company in the future. However, the instructions say do plant in full, hot sun… which nearly killed three of the little shrubs. Next time, I will keep them in their pots and “harden them off” by putting them in morning only sun in the spot where they will be planted until I know they can handle the scorching afternoon sun that Zone 9B in Florida brings. Lesson learned with a happy ending.

Happy planting!

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