Crapemyrtle – Lichens

Q: My parents have lost two of three crapemyrtles and the third is fading quick. It has some kind of green “fungus” growing on it. It hasn’t grown much since last season and didn’t have any new blooms either.

What can they do to get rid of the “fungus”?

A: My guess is that your last crapemyrtle is showing damage from water stress. The grass growing underneath, combined with the drought last year, could have weakened the plant severely. When it didn’t put out much foliage, lichens, which love to grow on sunny plant trunks, started growing on the stems. While you might think that the green lichens are hurting the crapemyrtle, they are completely harmless.

To help the plant recover, remove the grass five feet in all directions from the base of the crapemyrtle. Cover the soil with pine chips or pine straw. When a few leaves emerge in mid-April, pour 5 gallons of properly mixed liquid fertilizer (MiracleGro, etc) on the ground underneath. If you haven’t seen vigorous regrowth by the end of summer, remove the plant and put another in its place this fall.

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