The best time for planting trees and shrubs is usually during the dormant season, in the fall after leaf drop. Some trees are considered fall digging hazards and need to be planted later in the winter. However, crapemyrtles are the exception to many standard practices. You will be more successful with crapemyrtles if you understand how they perform and work within their parameters.
Crapemyrtles, particularly balled and burlapped ones, are best transplanted at or after bud break. Bud break is nursery slang for the point where growth is beginning to occur; buds on the plant are swelling and tiny leaves are starting to unfurl. This is the ideal time to dig and plant crapemyrtles. Whenever possible, wait until your last spring frost date before transplanting.
Crapemyrtles are also unusual because they can be moved exceptionally well while actively growing. As long as the soil moisture is adequate, plants dig great even with young tender leaves and growing shoots. During the heat of summer, when shoots are very elongated but still very green (not yet woody), they may wilt when first dug; however, they quickly recover if properly treated to “harden off” the plant at the nursery.
There are safe options for transplanting crapemyrtles in the late fall and winter. Healthy container-grown trees are the best option. Try to avoid trees with significant circling roots which would need to be removed for the long term health of the plant. Cutting off the circling roots would reduce the root mass and create the same risk as dormant harvested balled and burlapped plants. Seek nurseries that utilize “air pruning” or containers coated on the inside with various products containing copper. These methods manipulate root growth to reduce the possibility of circling roots.
Another option is to use B & B plants that have been harvested during the summer, hardened off and stored for winter sales. These can work well. Make sure the root ball is not left above ground unprotected during extreme low temperatures.
These tips should help get your crapemyrtles off to a good start.