My crape myrtles have bloomed in the past but haven’t this year. The plants don’t show any signs of disease or distress. What could be wrong?
We don’t always know the reasons why plants bloom better some years than others. If you aren’t seeing any signs of disease or insect problem, finding the answer will require a bit of detective work.
Here are some of the most common reasons why crape myrtles don’t bloom:
- Lack of Sun: Crape myrtles like around 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sunshine each day. If your plants only get a half-day of sun, or if they get shaded by a larger tree at some point during the day, they might not bloom as much as you’d like.
- Drought: If the summer has been extremely dry, your crape myrtles may have gone dormant. With irrigation, or rainfall, they may bloom a little later in the season than usual.
- Too Cool: Crape myrtles are heat loving plants. If you’ve had a cool, wet summer, or if you’re growing them at the northern edge of their hardiness zone, they may not bloom as much as they would in warmer climates.
- Too Much Nitrogen: An excess of nitrogen fertilizer can cause crape myrtles to produce lots of leaves, but not many blooms. This can happen when crape myrtles are planted in the middle of a lawn that gets frequent feedings. Reduce the amount of nitrogen during the growing season, and feed your crape myrtles in spring with a balanced, slow-release organic fertilizer.
- Planted Low: Crape myrtles should be planted with the root ball exactly at soil level. If they were planted too deep, or if they’ve settled, the roots may not be getting enough oxygen and the plant may not be draining water properly.
- Spring Damage: Even if your crape myrtle looks good now, something may have happened earlier in the spring – such as a late freeze, disease, or insects – to damage this year’s blooming shoots.
- Overgrown Roots: If you’ve corrected every other problem and crape myrtle still doesn’t bloom, you might try root pruning as a last resort. This practice is usually used on older, overgrown plants to jump-start growth and blooming.