Shhhh! Your Crape Myrtle is Still Sleeping!

A healthy but “sleepy” Crape Myrtle shown in early May

Now that spring is here and many plantings are jumping to a vibrant life, some people are anxiously awaiting the return of their Crape Myrtles (also spelled as “Crepe”).

Crape Myrtles are members of the Lagerstroemia genus and, while native to southeast Asia and northern Australia, they have become a favorite colorful addition to the summer foliage along the New Jersey coast.

The proper care of Crape Myrtles includes fall pruning as the leaves and blooms of Crapes only erupt on “new wood” meaning that Crapes will essentially refresh themselves each year.

Unlike other shrubs and trees, however, Crape Myrtles are not spring bloomers and oftentimes don’t begin to push foliage out until late spring or early summer.  In general, more established (older) Crape Myrtles and Crape Myrtles planted in full sun locations will begin to “wake up” a bit sooner than younger specimens.

Don’t panic if your Crape Myrtle looks lifeless in early May, this is completely normal!

If you are concerned that your Crape Myrtle hibernation is lasting too long and can’t resist verifying that your specimen is still alive, you can perform a simple scratch test on the bark.  If you pull back a small amount of bark with your fingernail and see bright green, that means that the plant is healthy and nature is taking it’s course.  Your Crape Myrtle will soon emerge from its winter’s nap and provide a colorful addition to your property this summer!

A simple test to determine if your Crape Myrtle is still sleeping or taking a permanent nap.. pull back a small amount of bark with your fingernail and look for bright green.