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Monday, September 17, 2012

Fertilizer Formula for Keeping Crepe Myrtle Healthy in Desert Landscape

Q. We have a crape myrtle tree in our southwest back yard. It gets plenty of water and I fertilized it last month with some Miracle Grow flowering fertilizer. At the time there were some burned edges on some of the leaves and some yellowing. Now it is really burned on the edges of all of the leaves with yellowing. HELP!

Crape myrtle growing at Center for Urban
Horticulture for 20 Years on Formula
Mentioned Here
A. A couple of things on your crape myrtle. I have kept crape myrtle growing in raw desert soil in good shape for 20 years at the Center for Urban Horticulture and Water Conservation in North Las Vegas. I used a combination of a general purpose tree and shrub fertilizer (16-16-16) plus an iron application combined with foliar sprays of Miracle Gro.

            I don’t really endorse products but Miracle Gro is the one I used and have found to work just fine. You could just as easily use a different good quality foliar fertilizer for flowering woody plants. I apply the granular 16-16-16 in late January or early February using about 2 lbs. of fertilizer applied to the surface of the soil and watered into the roots without it washing against the trunk.

            You can make some shallow holes in multiple places under the canopy and water it in thoroughly. At the same time, I also apply an iron chelate, iron EDDHA at the rate of a tablespoon or two scattered in the same holes and watered in so that none of it remains on the soil surface. It is light sensitive.

            After about one month of new growth I then foliar fertilize the tree with a Miracle Gro spray or comparable product. I do both of these annually. You can do the same thing (except for the iron) by using a fairly large quantity of good quality compost annually. My guess is you either are missing the iron application, watering too often or not watering deeply when you do water.

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