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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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Sunday - April 12, 2009

From: Midwest City, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Problems with Crape Myrtles in Oklahoma.
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I planted Crape Myrtles,Catawba, that are about 4 feet high. I planted them last October. They all had new leaves on them a week ago. All of the leaves are now brown and shriveled up. There is a touch of green on some of the leaves but not much. Are they dead? Did this happen because of the cold? Will fertilizing with fish guts (not sure of product name) help them?

ANSWER:

Crape myrtle  Lagerstroemia indica , even though it appears to be the "State Shrub" of Texas, is not a native of the United States. From your description, it sounds like the new spring growth on your plants got hit pretty hard by the cold snap that passed through Texas and Oklahoma. Fish guts are not going to undo the damage caused by the cold. Your best bet is to watch and wait to see if the plants recover on their own.

By the way, we would be remiss if we didn't mention that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is focused on the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Plants native to an area are already adapted to the conditions by millennia of experience and will require less water, fertilizer and maintenance. Crape myrtles are native to southeast Asia, and are therefore out of our range of expertise.

These two websites can give you more information about Lagerstroemia indica:

Floridata

University of Georgia Extension

 

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