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Plant Diseases/wilted leaves on crepe myrtle


Probably 8-10 yr. old crepe myrtle has been beautiful every year.  This year the leaves were slow to arrive and now the leaves are wilted looking with no shine on the wilted leaves.  No evidence of insects on the leaves.  It has been shedding some bark. What disease do you think it has and how do I treat it?

Hi Pat,

The bark shedding on the crape myrtle is probably normal.  Many types of crape myrtle plants have exfoliating bark and it will become more apparent as the plants get older.

As for the other problem, since you indicate that there are no insects, I suspect that there may be a root rot on this plant.  Be sure to examine both the upper and lower leaf surfaces for insects since this problem could be due to insect feeding.

Usually when trees leaf out late, it suggests that there may be a problem.  I am assuming that the plant has been watered and is not wilting due to drought.  If it is wilting and not responding to watering, it suggests that there is an interference with the plant taking up water.  Usually, this occurs when there is a root rot problem.  

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done for root rot problems.  Maintain adequate moisture, but do not overwater the plant.  Confirm that the soil is well drained.  You may need to redirect down spouts or dig a trench so that water drains away from the plant.  

Be sure to check the leaves closely for insects since that is a problem that could be treated.  But if you do not find any bugs, than I worry that your plant may be in decline.


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Jennifer Olson


Plant diseases affecting vegetables, fruits, nuts, lawns, trees, shrubs and ornamental plants. I have just volunteered as an expert on this site as of 01/2011.


Identification and management of plant diseases. Have been employed as a Plant Disease Diagnostician since 2002 and currently work in the Plant Disease and Insect Diagnostic Laboratory at the Oklahoma State University.

National Plant Diagnostic Network, Great Plains Diagnostic Network

B.S. Biology - Lebanon Valley College; M.S. Plant and Soil Sciences,concentration Plant Pathology - University of Delaware; Ph.D. in progress - Oklahoma State University.

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