This summer, I planted a new crape myrtle inside a walled, sun-blasted courtyard. With little root system to sustain it, the young shrub wilted badly under temperatures that reached 100F to 110F degrees in the shade day after day. Tender leaves began to go brittle.
With unrelenting, record-setting heat for three months running, this summer has been especially brutal to even established landscape plants. I've seen outer leaves on the crowns of mature Japanese maple trees fried to a crisp. And then there are the sunscorched evergreen hedges grown next to reflective surfaces.
As summer draws to a close, it's time to take stock. If sunscorched twigs are brittle, they've died and need to be pruned away. If the twigs remain flexible, wait until spring to see if they sprout new foliage. If the same problem occurs summer after summer, the long-term remedy is to remove the plant and replace it with a more heat-tolerant species.
As for my crape myrtle, I expect the fast-growing crown to be above the top of the courtyard wall by next summer, safely out of range of the reflected heat.