I live in Rockville and work for the University. In the last year, I fell in love with gardening and have been learning a lot from my moth...
Planting and Soil #858996
Asked February 12, 2024, 1:51 PM EST
I live in Rockville and work for the University. In the last year, I fell in love with gardening and have been learning a lot from my mother, a retired plant and soil scientist. She lives in New England though, and is not as familiar with our orange clay/soil and weather.
I would like to buy a crape myrtle for an area where I have been working to amend the soil with leaves and mulch for almost a year. What would be the best time to plant that and are there any other issues I should be on the lookout for?
We would recommend choosing a different flowering tree. Crapemyrtle, while they are very pretty trees with interesting shape, bark, blooms and fall color, have been greatly overplanted in our region. They are not native to Maryland or America and while they are not calssified as invasive, there have been some sightings of them re-seeding in areas. They also have recently had increasing issues with scale and aphid infestations ( also see https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/orn/trees/crapemyrtle_aphid.htm) . One of the most received questions we got last year was on Crapemyrtle Bark scale identification and management. We are still performing trials on the most effective method of control for this in our area, but none the less, any management for heavily infested plants will most likely require pesticides which could potentially harm beneficial insects as well. Crapemyrtles can also be prone to powdery mildew in our warm humid summers.
If you would like to send us a photo of the area you are planning on installing a tree, we would gladly recommend other trees to look into planting. When choosing alternatives to commonly overplanted trees and shrubs, we recommend choosing a characteristic that you prefer to mimic as sometimes you won't find a plant to fit all the traits you were hoping for.
One tree that has many similarities to Crapemrytle is Seven-son flower or Heptacodium miconioides. It also isn't native but pollinators do enjoy the blooms and it has not shown to be invasive either.
Let us know if you have further questions or would like some other alternatives to Crapemyrtle and feel free to send in a photo and general dimensions and site conditions of your planting space (sunlight, drainage, deer?).
This work is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.