Crapemyrtle – Early Care

Q: I had giant pine tree cut down and have a pile of chips in the yard. Instead of picking them up I thought I might plant a crepe myrtle in the middle of it. Is this a good idea?

A: The crapemyrtle will suffer for a few years if you don’t remove the chips. Soil organisms that decompose wood chips need lots of nitrogen to accomplish their task. They will use most of the life-giving nitrogen the crapemyrtle needs to grow. Your plant will have yellow leaves until the fungi have completed their job, at which time the nitrogen will become available to your plants again. Rake out as many chips as you can, then fertilize the new crapemyrtle with a slow release product (Osmocote, Dynamite, etc) at planting. Give the rootball a feeding with water-soluble houseplant fertilizer every two months during the growing season. This should satisfy the nitrogen needs of the fungi as well as the crapemyrtle.

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