Crepe myrtle (Crape Myrtle) are deciduous medium to large flowering shrubs or small trees.You will find facts and information on crepe myrtles to help decide if they will be the right choice in your yard or garden landscape. It is important to get information on size, growth habits, and growing conditions to achieve the best results.
General Information on Crepe Myrtles
Crepe myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, belong to the Loosetrife family (Lythraceae). They are handsome, small, multi-trunk trees with four seasons of interest. The tree’s rounded crown displays the showy bark of the supporting trunks. In summer, flowers appear at the tips of the arching to erect branches and last for months. Many cultivars exist, from tiny to large and from heat lovers to those with increased cold hardiness.
Dr. D. Egolf of the U.S. National Arboretum created many hybrids that are root hardy to Zone 6 with excellent mildew and leaf spot resistance, depending upon the cultivar. Choose the right crape myrtle for your particular site, purpose, and climate.
Leaves are simple, smooth, 1-3” long, with bronze new growth, dark green mature leaves, and red to yellow and orange fall color. The gray outer bark exfoliates to reveal mottled cinnamon, brownish beige, and greenish inner bark. Elongated 8” clusters of white, red, pink, purple, or lavender flowers develop at branch tips and last 2-3 months. The fruits are brown, persistent capsules.
Crepe myrtles look terrific when massed or in groups, where you can appreciate the gorgeous bark exposed by its multi-stemmed barelegged habit topped by a rounded crown. Also makes an attractive lawn specimen, especially when mature, since older plants have not only the year-round bark display but also a handsome architectural form.
Small bushy cultivars work well massed or as an informal hedge. Dwarf varieties make good plants for foundations, massing, border specimens, and containers or hanging baskets.
Hardiness Zones: 7-9
Light: Full sun
Soil: Moist, well-drained soils. They are drought tolerant once established. Prefers heavy loam with pH of 5.0-6.5.
Growing: Planting them in full sun helps avoid powdery mildew. Remove suckers to maintain tree forms; cut out dead and crossed branches. Deadheading promotes a second flush of bloom in late summer on plants that flower before mid-July. Cutting live branches larger than a pencil width can create ugly sprays of new floppy growth.
To grow crepe myrtle as a shorter shrub, you can cut the whole plant to 6” above ground in early spring before growth begins. May be attacked by aphids and Japanese beetles, as well as sooty mold, leaf spot, canker, and powdery mildew.
Of Interest: Article with best flowering trees for your landscape.