If you’re growing a crape myrtle at home, you’re likely interested in enjoying the plant’s gorgeous flowers. Properly fertilizing your crape myrtle is an essential part of keeping the plants vibrant and supporting flower production. Read on to learn more about when and how to fertilize crape myrtle for optimal growth each season.
Crape Myrtle Basics
Crape myrtles, also known as crepe myrtles, are shrubs or small trees that belong to the Lagerstroemia genus. This genus consists of about fifty species that vary in size from one to a hundred feet tall.
The plants have smooth bark that peels off to create a multi-colored look. The plants also produce large flower clusters during the warmer months.
Although crape myrtles are native to Southeast Asia and parts of Australia, they are grown as ornamental plants worldwide. They are especially popular in the Southern United States.
When to Fertilize Crape Myrtle
Since crape myrtles are heavy feeders, they will benefit from regular doses of fertilizer. Begin fertilizing your plants in the early spring and continue until the late summer.
Fertilizing once per month is generally sufficient.
If you are using a granular fertilizer, applying fertilizer before rain is expected is a good idea. This will give the fertilizer a chance to absorb into the soil.
Selecting a Fertilizer for Crape Myrtle
While fertilizing a crape myrtle with the right type of fertilizer will help it thrive, using the wrong product can lead to unwanted results. Therefore, it’s important that you know how to select a good fertilizer for crape myrtles.
All fertilizers provide plants with nutrients. However, the exact nutrients, and the amounts of these nutrients, varies between different fertilizers.
Most fertilizers will contain the three plant macronutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). That’s because all plants need large amounts of these nutrients to thrive.
If you look at fertilizer, you should see the NPK ratio printed on the product’s label. This ratio describes the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the product.
For example, a fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-6-5 will contain 10% nitrogen, 6% phosphorus, and 5% potassium by weight.
Since crape myrtles are flowering plants, you’ll want to avoid a fertilizer with too much nitrogen. Adding lots of nitrogen to your plant can encourage lots of vegetative growth but prevent the plant from producing flowers.
However, since crape myrtles are woody plants, they do need a decent amount of nitrogen to thrive.
That means a fertilizer with a balanced NPK ratio is generally a good choice. This will support the plant as it grows and encourage flower development.
Should I Use Organic or Synthetic Fertilizer for Crape Myrtles?
As far as organic and synthetic products, the choice is up to you. Both types of fertilizers will provide your crape myrtle with the nutrients it needs.
Organic fertilizers are derived from natural products like manure, rock dust, and bones. These products typically contain lower amounts of nutrients than synthetic fertilizers and may release more slowly into the soil.
One organic fertilizer that can work well for crape myrtles is Jobe’s Organic All Purpose Granular Fertilizer.
Synthetic fertilizers are created via chemical processes. They often contain higher amounts of nutrients that are readily available to plants.
You can try out Vigoro Tree, Shrub, and Evergreen Fertilizer if you want a synthetic option.
How to Fertilize Crape Myrtles
If you are using a granular fertilizer, you can sprinkle the recommended amount of fertilizer in a ring around the crape myrtle. Space the ring about a foot away from the base of the plant.
Gently incorporate the granules into the soil with a rake and then water well.
If you are using a liquid fertilizer, dilute the product as instructed. Pour the fertilizer over the plant, about a foot away from the base of the plant.
Fertilizing Crape Myrtle FAQs:
When Is the Best Time to Fertilize a Crape Myrtle?
You should begin fertilizing your crape myrtle in the early spring, just as the buds start to emerge. Continue to fertilize once a month through the early fall.
Is it Possible to Overfertilize a Crape Myrtle?
Yes, it is possible to apply too much fertilizer to a crape myrtle. Always follow fertilizer directions and avoid fertilizing in the fall and winter (for more, see our in-depth guide to end-of-season crape myrtle care).
What kind of fertilizer should I use for my Crape Myrtle tree?
For optimal growth, use a balanced fertilizer with a ratio of equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, such as a 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 fertilizer. You can also use a slow-release fertilizer to provide nutrients to the tree over a longer period of time.
Should I fertilize my Crape Myrtle tree every year?
Yes, you should fertilize your Crape Myrtle tree every year to ensure it gets the nutrients it needs to grow and thrive.
Can I use organic fertilizer for my Crape Myrtle tree?
Yes, you can use organic fertilizers, such as compost or fish emulsion, to fertilize your Crape Myrtle tree. Organic fertilizers can provide a slow release of nutrients and improve soil health.
Fertilizing your crape myrtle will provide it with the nutrients it requires to produce healthy leaves and flowers. Remember to choose a balanced fertilizer and apply it during the spring and summer months.
For more, see our in-depth guide on growing and caring for crape myrtle in your garden and everything you need to know about pruning and trimming crape myrtle.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.
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