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Crepe Myrtle Transplant Shock (4 months delayed)

Nathaniel McVay
6 years ago

I'm trying to get advice on dealing with what appears to be CM transplant shock. The tree is roughly 15 foot in height and was transplanted in mid February before leafs had budded. The CM was tucked very tightly into a corner of a privacy fence so I managed to get roughly a 30-36 inch diameter root ball, but no more due to the fence being in the way. I was surprised to find that I did not have to cut many large roots when digging the root ball.

So.. After transplanting, I moved to a location that has more room (albeit not as much as I would like) facing SE. Plant budded and put on leaves with no hint of transplant shock whatsoever. In the last 3 weeks, the leaves have been curling up looking wilted, and have started to yellow. The lawn is irrigated, so surrounding areas get good water, but not directly on the CM.

Immediately preceding the wilting, we had very heavy rains (10 inches in a matter of a couple of weeks) that saturated the soil so much that the root ball actually started shifting. I adjusted the tree back to plumb and added stakes to keep it help upright until the roots have a chance to establish themselves.

Leaves don't seem to recover in early morning hours, and I am starting to get leaves dropping from the tree. I have been hand watering every 2-3 days, but it hasn't seemed to make any difference in condition of the tree. Soil from the root ball is quite sandy which makes me think I may need to amend with compost / peat etc, and also has me concerned about water retention. I do not have the area mulched in as I have seen suggested in some other posts. The tree is essentially in my front lawn, so it is going to be a project to build a bed border and mulch it all in.

Any suggestions on how to treat the tree to get long term stable growth would be greatly appreciated. At this point, I am guessing it will probably not put on flowers this year, and I will be lucky if it survives. Best guesses at this point is to amend the soil, prune heavily in off season to reduce the amount of growth above ground that the roots have to support, and keep watering.


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