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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - March 26, 2009

From: Chandler, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Failure to bloom of non-native crepe myrtle
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a white crepe myrtle that never bloomed last year..my pink ones were beautiful. What can I fertilize with to promote blooming for the white one? And, yes, it is in the sun!

ANSWER:

While there is a crape myrtle native to North America, Malpighia glabra (wild crapemyrtle), it is native only to Texas and is a member of the Malpighiaceae (Barbados Cherry) family. It is therefore not even closely related to Lagerstroemia indica, which is native to temperate and tropical Asia. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they grow naturally, which places this out of our range of expertise. We can, however, refer you to a Floridata website,  Lagerstroemia indica, which should give you some more information on the culture of your plants. We can also advise you NOT to fertilize until you explore some more possibiities for the non-bloom, as  over-fertilizing creates abundant foliage at the expense of blooms, especially high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer. It is possible that your white crape myrtle is situated where regular lawn fertilizing is causing it receive an overdose of nitrogen.

 

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