The crepe myrtle, commonly known as crape myrtle, is a multi-stemmed shrub or tree that gets its name from its colorful crepe paper-like flowers. The common crepe myrtle is a 25-foot-tall plant, and the Japanese crepe myrtle is a 50-foot-tall plant.
These are two of the crepe myrtle species. Plant hardiness zones 7 to 9 and 6 to 9 are appropriate for these plants, according to the USDA.
So, when do crepe myrtles leaf out? The answer is in this article. Keep on reading!
Crepe myrtles usually leaf out in early April or late March. Depending on the type, the flowers appear in early to midsummer.
Crepe myrtle is a deciduous tree. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the leaves turn yellow, orange, and crimson in the fall, then drop to cover the soil. During the winter, it is dormant, meaning it absorbs very little water through its roots.
In places where winter temperatures can dip to 20 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods of time, with the final frost usually happening in early March, this is the ideal time for the plant to leaf out.
A few weeks later, the inactive, or dormant, buds on a crepe myrtle begin to swell as the shrub begins to take up water from the warm earth. Crepe myrtle leaves appear on its branches a few weeks after the last frost, or late March or early April, despite the fact that spring temperatures fluctuate from year to year.
Mulching the space under a crepe myrtle in the winter and early spring can help keep its roots warm, but wait until the plant is leafless and dormant in the fall or early winter to mulch it. Mulching while the plant is still growing may keep the roots too warm and inhibit dormancy, putting the plant in danger of cold harm when winter arrives.
Under the plant’s canopy, spread 3 to 4 inches of straw or shredded bark on the ground, keeping mulch away from the plant’s base to prevent moisture buildup.
Remove the winter mulch in the early spring to get rid of overwintering insects and their eggs, then replace it with a new layer to help maintain soil moisture for the next season.
Water the crepe myrtle regularly in the spring, when the buds begin to expand, to get it off to a good start. However, keep in mind that you are not supposed to overwater it. Aim for 1 inch of water every week, including rain.
When the days get longer and the season progresses, the crepe myrtle, like all plants, receives a signal to begin blossoming. The exact period of flowering varies slightly between cultivars.
According to Clemson Cooperative Extension, crepe myrtles begin blooming in early or mid-summer, and they often continue blooming throughout the summer and into early fall, with some types blooming until the first frost.
Deadheading, or removing spent flowers before they dry and develop seeds, might help a crepe myrtle bloom longer. According to Moon Valley Nurseries, removing faded flowers encourages the plant to produce a second flush of blossoms, but this one may be smaller than the first. Leave the tree’s remaining fall flowers to develop the gorgeous seed heads that feed wildlife.
Aphids are soft-bodied insects that suck sap from leaves and cause them to wilt and dry out and can be attracted to the crepe myrtle, which is normally a sturdy, easy-to-grow plant. Aphids can also attach themselves to flower buds and destroy them before they open if they are not handled.
Spraying the crepe myrtle with insecticidal soap, which is diluted at a rate of 6 teaspoons per gallon of water, is the most effective way to control aphids. Repeat every week or two as needed until all plant parts are dripping moist.
Powdery mildew, a fungus that forms fluffy white patches on leaves, and sooty mold, another fungus that causes blackish, fuzzy areas, can also affect crepe myrtles. Both can obstruct the development of leaves and flowers.
Planting a crepe myrtle where air circulates effectively periodically cleaning debris from under the plant are the best ways to avoid them.
In the spring, crepe myrtles are one of the last plants to leaf out. In fact, many gardeners are concerned that something is gravely wrong when the only issue is that the tree’s time has not yet come.
The climate affects the time of year. Check the branches for tiny leaf buds if you don’t see leaves by mid-spring. You’ll get leaves shortly if the tree has healthy buds.
Is it possible to grow a crepe myrtle tree in your climate zone? Depending on the cultivar, crepe myrtles may withstand temperatures ranging from U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9.
Leaf buds can be injured if winter temperatures are excessively cold or if a freeze occurs too late in the year. The tree does not receive the usual signal that winter has passed in locations where there are no freezing temperatures in the winter. To know when to break dormancy, crepe myrtles require chilly temps followed by warm weather.
Check the buds on your crepe myrtle if it isn’t leafing out. Cut a leaf bud in half and remove it. It has been damaged by late frost if it is green on the exterior but brown on the inside. AD Buds that are completely brown have been dead for a long period.
This suggests a long-term issue that has been plaguing the tree. Remove some of the bark near the dead buds with a scraper. The branch is still alive if the wood beneath the bark is green. If you come across deadwood, the best course of action is to trim the branch back to where the wood is still healthy.
I hope this article was successful in answering your question of when do crepe myrtles leaf out. For more gardening tips and tricks, keep on reading our articles!