Renee F
Renee F
  • Hometalker
  • Powhatan, VA
Asked on Apr 9, 2012

Crepe Myrtle Woes

T A TDouglas HuntRenee F
+21

Answered

We have, what used to be, a beautiful row of crepe myrtles growing in our side yard. Two of them seem to by dying quickly. I looked closer today and there are a lot of dead branches that you can just break off. When I broke off one of them some black bugs were crawling around inside. I also noticed some scaly looking stuff. There seems to be both dead leaves and new leaves on one of them. I have no idea how old they are. They were fully grown when we purchased the house 16 years ago. Any suggestions of what can be wrong? I hope we can save them. I hope the pics will give you a good idea of what we're dealing with.
crepe myrtle woes, gardening
crepe myrtle woes, gardening
one of the broken branches
one of the broken branches
Scale
Scale
There are holes in the dead branch
There are holes in the dead branch
24 answers
  • Sherrie S
    on Apr 9, 2012

    Renee F, I am only replying since crepe myrtles in Florida have lived through drought (houses in forclosure for several years with no sprinklers) and many diseases that killled some plants/trees. They are tough & beautiful. Nothing here YET has been able to hurt them. I would be very unhappy if some bug, disease, etc., destroys them. Experts at hometalk can tell you and me more. I will be watching this posting because I love those trees.

  • Renee F
    on Apr 9, 2012

    So do I...I'm heartbroken

  • Sherrie S
    on Apr 10, 2012

    Renee F, Search for Douglas Hunt on Hometalk because he knows so much about plants even if he doesn't live in VA.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 10, 2012

    Renee, have you done anything to your crepe myrtles in the time you've been there in terms of either pruning or fertilizing? As Sherrie mentions, they are generally pretty problem-free trees, other than perhaps aphids, which can usually be controlled with a good blast of water. It is not a good sign, however, that there were insects inside the wood. I would suggest you break off another piece of wood with them, place it in a sealed plastic bag, and take it to your local cooperative extension office. Fingers crossed!

  • Jeannie C
    on Apr 10, 2012

    Email your pics to the Garden Rebel, Robert Vincent Sims, @ www.gardenrebel.com I believe or Goggle him. He is in Winter Park, FL and has a Nationally Syndicated Garden and Landscaping Radio Show and TV Show in the Orlando area.

  • Linda M
    on Apr 10, 2012

    Well the bugs got a hold of them. Sometime you just can't save them.You need to check your plants.They don't look like they have ever been pruned.Good one Mr Hunt...My son had a beautiful tree in front of his house he sprayed he babied it for about a year..Finally had to remove it.If you see bugs or mold you need to spray.Sometime with soapy water will do ,Or go to the nursey and ask someone that works there.They will probably have good advice.

  • Karen H
    on Apr 10, 2012

    Could be black sooty mold and they get little white scale that are bugs if they don't get enough sun. I use Rose systemic granular fertilizer on them once a month. Keeps them fed and keeps the pests away. They really don't need much water.

  • Toni
    on Apr 10, 2012

    Hey that Bayer Flower care stuff works GREAT!!! I use that on everything! It's expensive but worth it because you don't have to use anything else. I put it on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor day approx. It works wonders really. It's systemic and it comes in liquid and grandular.

  • Linda B
    on Apr 10, 2012

    They look pretty dead from where I'm sitting. Just please don't ever let anyone tell you that crape myrtles need to be pruned. The simply don't. At the Extension office, we call it "crape murder."

  • Sherrie S
    on Apr 10, 2012

    Linda B, This is the first year in about 15 years we have not "murdered? the crepe myrtles. After the murders I always wondered why my myrtles were the last to bloom. Crepe murder did not kill my plants so I think Reene has a very different and serious problem. I hope someone can help.

  • Renee F
    on Apr 10, 2012

    They've been pruned once in the 15 years we've been here. I'm going to try to cut all of the dead wood out and then talk to my local garden center for advice. Thanks everyone for the help.

  • Ruth O
    on Apr 10, 2012

    I thought I saw little round holes in some of the pictures. Ambrosia beetles can kill crape myrtles with the fungus they bring in.

  • Renee F
    on Apr 10, 2012

    Ruth O you're correct there were round holes in the branches.

  • Renee F
    on Apr 10, 2012

    I checked out Walter Reeves site. It has some excellent photos of Ambrosia beetle infestation and I haven't seen the "toothpicks". I'll take a closer look tomorrow.

  • T A T
    on Apr 11, 2012

    I have crepe myrtles also...and they always benefit from removal of dead branches each winter.....also from pruning down.....

  • Debi M
    on Apr 11, 2012

    I've noticed that most people cut the tops out of these every spring. You may want to try that

  • Toni
    on Apr 13, 2012

    I prune mine every year. I have four of them and they are all different. As of today, April 13, two of them still look dead. But they are not. They are the last to show any sign of life in my yard. They always look dead and I think they are dead but they just take a while to get started. Finally, after having them for 5 years, this is the first year I didn't worry that they were dead. So, don't worry, you can prune them. I prune them in early Spring.

  • T A T
    on Apr 14, 2012

    One thing to determine that I forgot....some grown 10-20' tall and some are short cultivars......under 3-4'......We have so many varieties etc. here as OSU has a prof. who has created new colors and types......they are so beautiful when the heat has gotten everything else. A saynig "You can tell who a true gardener is, they are the ones who plant things they will never live to see, but others will enjoy!"

  • Linda B
    on Apr 15, 2012

    May I suggest that you talk to your local Extension office? Rather than being in business to sell you products, they're in business to provide the public with free, RESEARCH-BASED information about problems like this. You may be able to take a sample branch in. Fortunately, crape myrtles are NOT expensive, and they grow reasonably quickly, if you DO need to replace it. They also have varieties that will grow in sizes from 18" to around 40' tall -- with most colors available in all the size ranges -- so you shouldn't have a problem finding a replacement. This is a really good article on pruning/selecting these great plants: http://pitt.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=LAWN+91

  • T A T
    on Apr 16, 2012

    Great idea! If there is one in your town......also, you can google "crepe Myrtle" and check on different pests etc. Just remember it is common to have dead wood from time to time....I trin the down, and eventually it will completely come off from the base when it is ready. Mine are very old also, and then I get new ones from time to time when a new color is available...They do so well in the heat of Oklahoma Summers!

  • Renee F
    on Apr 20, 2012

    Want to thank everyone for the comments/advice. Decided to prune all the dead wood from that and the 6 others. No sign of bugs, etc. on the tree. I'll keep an eye out. If it doesn't make it we will replace it.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 21, 2012

    Good luck, Renee.

  • T A T
    on Apr 22, 2012

    Remember also, that crepe myrtles require warm up in temps for a few days before they put out their leaves in the spring in most states.....If they have been frozen back, somethimes they sprout from the base of the plant. so be cautious when cultivating around it.....LOL Let us know what works for you!

Your comment...