Crepe Myrtles Struggle After Harsh Winter

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Crepe myrtles are the heavyweights of the plant world, which is why they are so popular in the south.

“It’s a plant that’s very adaptable for some of the toughest parts of our landscape,” said Huntsville Botanical Garden’s Harvey Cotten.

But after this past year’s rough winter, many of them are on the ropes.

Bill O’Meara owns BoShanCee Nursery in New Market and this spring he has lost about half of his crepe myrtle crop.

O’Meara’s wife reached out to the WHNT News 19 Weather Team to track the temperatures from their days of harvest.

His goal is to correlate the low temperatures from those days to help identify the warmest temperatures at the which the plants are damaged.

“This was an unusual winter though and so we’re trying to find out what that temperature is that we can kind of say a safe range that can keep us out of trouble,” said O’Meara.

But you may notice, not all of the crepe myrtles are struggling. O’Meara says the root of the issue is at the root. If your plant is in the ground, you likely won’t have any problems.

“Out here, we are holding the plant above ground and if that root ball freezes and the root dies, then the whole plant dies and that’s what I’m most concerned with,” said O’Meara.

Cotten says the crepe myrtles at Huntsville Botanical Garden are all doing fine.

“Now they did bloom a little bit later and I think that was due to the cool season temperatures we had in April and even into May, but they are in full bloom now and tend to be growing well,” said Cotten.

O’Meara says that he hopes to be able to figure out the exact temperature at which the crepe myrtles were damaged in the next couple of months.

“You’re in the business to grow this stuff, this happens to you, so you would like to figure out what you can do to prevent it,” said O’Meara.

There are other measures you can take to protect your own crepe myrtles.

O’Meara says you should fertilize the plants no later than June, do not prune the plant after August 1 and do not water it too heavily late in the fall.

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