When to Fertilize Your Crape Myrtle - 2023 Guide

Written by Ivy

Jan 12 2023

When to Fertilize Your Crape Myrtle - 2023 Guide

In this article, we'll go over how to determine whether your crape myrtle needs fertilizer and what kind to use. Furthermore, we'll go over step-by-step instructions on how to feed your crapes and when to do it. We'll also go over your choices if you want a natural substitute.

Does a Crape Myrtle Need to Be Fertilized?

Considering how low-maintenance crape myrtles are, some people question whether they even require fertilizer. A mature tree will probably survive without your assistance, but if you're not getting the blooms you want, adding more nutrients to the soil might be able to help.

However, you don't want to overdo it. Young and newly planted Crape Myrtles may require fertilizer to get off to a strong start. A fertilizer overdose can result in unproductive growth and extra foliage at the expense of your blooms.

Crape myrtles flower on new growth, so promoting the growth of new limbs and foliage will enhance blooms (so long as you don't over-fertilize). The tree uses a lot of nitrogen to produce the burst of flowers that we all love because it needs enough energy and nutrients to do so.

Your Crape Myrtle may require an application of all-purpose fertilizer if the soil in your garden lacks sufficient nitrogen content naturally. If you're propagating crape myrtle in a container, this is especially true. Don't worry if your soil isn't the best because Crape Myrtles can thrive in any type of soil.

When Should You Fertilize Crape Myrtles?


The best time to fertilize your crape myrtle is in the early spring, right as the tree begins to sprout new leaves. Fresh growth indicates that the tree has awoken for the spring and is prepared for a nutrient boost. Roots can be harmed by fertilizing too soon, before a tree is ready to process the nutrition.

Applying fertilizer right before a rain is always a good idea, not just in the spring. In the alternative, after applying the fertilizer, you'll need to thoroughly soak the ground. Following your application, rain will aid in soaking up the soil and delivering the nutrients to the tree's root system. A nice spring rainstorm works much more effectively than your water hose for this task.

When to Fertilize a New Crape Myrtle

The first year of your new Crape Myrtle is the only time this fertilizing schedule is exempt. If you recently planted a new crop of Crape, you are probably keeping a close eye on it and providing it with extra tender loving care. You should plan to apply additional fertilizer to newly planted and young Crape Myrtles until they become established because they require more fertilizer than their mature counterparts.

Apply fertilizer twice in the second year after planting: once in early spring as usual and once in mid- to late spring. You can add one more round of fertilizer when the summer blooms are starting to fade in order to encourage further blooms and growth into the fall. Return to the usual once-yearly fertilization schedule in the early spring after the first year.


How to Fertilize Crape Myrtles

You're ready to feed your Crape Myrtles once you have your preferred all-purpose fertilizer for gardens. Just make sure the season is appropriate for your plant. Remember, new plants can receive three applications of fertilizer in their first year (spring, early summer, and late summer), but mature plants only require one in the early spring.

Spread your fertilizer around the base of the Crape Myrtle, evenly covering the ground and going out far enough to cover the tree's extensive root system. You don't need to move the mulch surrounding your crape myrtle or attempt to bury the fertilizer beneath it if there is already mulch there. The nutrients will still get to the roots of the tree if you apply it on top of the mulch.

Make sure to thoroughly water the Crape Myrtle after fertilizer application. Although it's ideal to fertilize before it rains, it's not always possible. Giving your tree a good soak will ensure that all the fertilizer has a chance to soak into the soil and be absorbed by the roots. This is especially important if rain is not in the forecast. Following fertilization with water also helps to avoid fertilizer burn on any nearby plants or above-ground foliage.

Choose Your Fertilizer

At The Crape Myrtle Company, we prefer to keep things easy. The simpler, the better! We prefer to recommend all-purpose fertilizers because soil types in the United States vary greatly. If your area's soil is deficient in a particular element or trace mineral, using these types of fertilizers will give you the best protection. Miracle Gro is the fertilizer that is both the simplest to use and the most well-known. However, using Miracle Gro can get pricey if you have a lot of Crape Myrtles that you want to fertilize. Any brand of 10-10-10 Fertilizer with Trace Minerals will do, and a 50lb bag costs about $15 at most farm supply and home improvement stores. If you don't want to spend the time fertilizing frequently (as you would need to do with Miracle Gro or 10-10-10), you can choose a slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote.

These only represent our broader suggestions. You can choose the fertilizer you want to use. The best expert on your soil is you. To use your preferred fertilizer, simply follow the directions on the provided sheet. Keep in mind that your crape myrtles are heavy feeders and thrive best when fed frequently when selecting a fertilizer for them.

Fertilize in Spring

When the first leaves start to appear in the spring, start fertilizing with your preferred fertilizer (liquid, slow release, or granules). Crape Myrtles have deep roots and are heavy feeders. Lightly fertilize every two weeks throughout the spring and summer months. This will encourage the best possible new growth. Do not forget that Crape Myrtles only bloom on new growth.

Once a month during the growing season of the first year, lightly fertilize young plants (such as those you will receive from our nursery). By doing this, you can make sure that the new roots are properly spreading and growing deeply.

After using fertilizer, always water your crape myrtles. Then, if you live somewhere dry and arid, water once a week or more frequently.

When to Discontinue Fertilization and Regular Watering

In the later fall, stop fertilizing and start watering less frequently. This will help the plants "harden off." A process that better gets the plant ready for winter dormancy is hardening off. It essentially makes the plant tougher so it can withstand the drier, colder conditions of winter. If you want to prune your crape myrtle, do so now while it is in its winter dormancy.

What Fertilizer Works Best?

Another way that Crape Myrtles keep things easy to manage when it comes to care is by favoring balanced, all-purpose fertilizers. You won't need to be precisely aware of your specific soil's composition if you use a well-balanced blend. All of the major macro and micronutrients are included in balanced options.

What, then, makes a fertilizer balanced? The NPK ratio on the container indicates the proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in a balanced fertilizer.

Natural Alternatives to Fertilizer


There may be some all-natural options available to help increase the nutrients your Crape Myrtle is getting if you don't want to use fertilizer or chemicals. Your Crape doesn't require a lot of soil amendments, such as those that alter the pH. In a variety of soil types, these trees can flourish.

However, a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5 would be the most favorable for your crape myrtle. You can amend the soil if you so choose, but it is not necessary for a healthy tree if your soil test reveals that it is outside of this range. If the pH is seriously off, you can raise it by incorporating lime products into the soil. Alternately, you could use sulfur additives to lower the pH. In either situation, amending the soil before planting the tree yields the best results.

Coffee grounds are a further organic fertilizer that you can use around your crape myrtle. Although many people prefer to just put them in their gardens, we advise composting them first. Coffee grounds are a great source of nitrogen for compost, which is essential for crape myrtles to bloom. Natural composting also benefits the environment, so it's a win-win situation.

Epsom salt is frequently used with plants that prefer magnesium, such as tomatoes and roses. Crape Myrtles may occasionally benefit from it. Epsom salt addition could be detrimental if your soil already contains enough magnesium. It's best to understand the makeup of your soil before beginning to add amendments.

Even so, if you choose to apply Epsom salt to the soil, be sure to combine it with water first. That will prevent it from becoming overly concentrated in one place or hurting the roots of nearby plants.

Fertilizer Or Compost?

Compost and fertilizers both increase the soil's nutrient content. Compost releases nutrients into the soil at a less concentrated rate than fertilizers because it decomposes naturally.

Chemicals that make up fertilizer are created to quickly release into the soil and absorb into the root systems of plants. Therefore, the outcome will be a higher concentration of those particular nutrients that start working more quickly than you would see with homemade compost.

Comparing compost to the fertilizers we've talked about, such as 10-10-10 and 8-8-8, it is roughly 3-0.5-1.5. This means that the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in commercial fertilizers are much higher.

As organic materials decompose and naturally produce nutrients your plants require, compost aids in enhancing the health of the soil. Compost is an excellent strategy to use if you want to improve the soil's overall condition without focusing on specific nutrients. Nevertheless, a fertilizer made specifically for that purpose might be more sensible if you're looking to increase certain compounds (like nitrogen) more significantly.

Using Compost on Crape Myrtles


Composting is simple to add to your garden area around your crape myrtles. The best part is that Crape Myrtles don't care much about the type of soil they grow in, so virtually any compost will do. Your compost's impact on the soil will vary depending on the types of ingredients you use.

For instance, some composts may increase the soil's acidity while others may increase its alkalinity. Potassium levels may be raised by some ingredients, while nitrogen levels may be raised by others. Compost can be purchased offline, online, or even from a neighborhood garden center. This vermicompost is one that we like.

Additionally, you could create your own compost! Making your own compost is a very rewarding project that benefits your garden, the environment, and reduces the amount of kitchen waste you generate at home. Not to mention, it is considerably less expensive than buying compost that has already been made.

The ideal time to incorporate compost into the soil is when you are planting after you have created it. If your tree is already established, you can place it close to the Crape Myrtle and cover it with an even layer of mulch. Give the tree a good drenching to help the compost settle in and the nutrients reach the roots.

Putting It All Together

All types of soil can support the growth of crape myrtles. As long as they receive enough sunlight, these trees can grow in sandy or even clay soil. These trees can be grown even if you don't have a green thumb because they are typically self-sufficient. Consequently, your crape myrtle shouldn't require fertilizer to grow and bloom. However, a few extra nutrients usually won't harm, so feel free to fertilize if you like.

The only exception is a newly planted, very young Crape Myrtle. Be sure to add an all-purpose plant food or fertilizer during the first spring, early summer, and mid- to late-summer after you plant your Crape Myrtle because these young trees need the extra nutrients to grow and develop their roots and foliage.

Any all-purpose fertilizer will do; however, well-balanced fertilizers, like a 10-10-10, are best for your crape. Both online and at your neighborhood garden store, there are numerous options. Composting is a natural substitute that will enrich your soil with nutrients and help your tree's health. In spite of the fact that it's not necessary, it can undoubtedly make your crape myrtle flourish.

The best thing you can do for your crape myrtle is make sure it receives enough sunlight, water, and a soil test before adding any specific amendments (other than balanced fertilizer).) Knowing the state of your soil will help you choose the best products to improve it.