What You Need To Know About Crape Myrtle

The crape myrtle tree is an extremely popular tree in the southern parts of the United States, with some areas sporting them on every street.  When traveling to the south most anytime of the year the crape myrtle will catch your eye with beautiful spring flowers and dazzling autumn leaves. If you’re thinking of planting one in your garden there are a few things you need to consider.  In this post I share some tips that will help you make the right choice when considering a crape myrtle for your landscape.

Tips on Crape Myrtle Trees

[alert-note]Choose The Perfect Variety For Your Landscape[/alert-note]

It’s hard, once you’ve seen a crape myrtle tree in full bloom, to resist running to the nearest garden center and picking the first one you see.  but don’t do that. Read the information about the tree and ask for advice first – you want to get the right color and shape for your setting.

crape myrtle autjmn
Photo credit: Lisa Francis
Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

A very important consideration to take into account before purchasing a tree for your garden is the height of the full grown tree.  The mature crape myrtles can range in height from 3 ft. dwarf varieties to 30 ft.  Be sure you think about the space you have in your landscape when picking the variety you wish to grow. Pay attention to the hardiness zone ratings for the crape myrtle tree you pick out because most do not do well in the colder zones.

[alert-note]Where To Plant[/alert-note]

Crape myrtles are very versatile in the south and can be planted in rows to make deciduous hedge for privacy screen. They can also be  very attractive planted alone to form a focal point in the landscape. A smaller pairing of the tree can frame a door, providing a cheerful welcome to visitors.

crape myrtle line the street
Photo Credit: Janies Best Photos on FLick

As discussed earlier in this article it is very important to consider the height of the tree.  If you’re opting for a larger variety you will need to plant the tree where it won’t affect powerlines or nearby buildings. Generally, the medium-sized (12-15 feet in height) are perfect for most gardens and courtyards, while the dwarf varieties look perfect in large pots or even in perennial beds. Be mindful of where the sun falls as the crape myrtle needs a lot of sun to reach a healthy size.

[alert-note]Encouraging Blooms [/alert-note]

Once the first flowers have finished it’s bloom and fallen the tree will start to produce seed. The seedpods weigh down the limbs and eventually drop so its best to clip off the seedpods with a sharp set of pruners early on. Pruning or cutting the seedpods off will make new shoots and flowers grow. If you are lucky to have a warm late summer you may get new blooms that will need deadheaded as well.

[alert-note] Planting Tips [/alert-note]

crape myrtle in a row

The crape mrytle can be planted in summer but it is always best to do this in late autumn or early spring. If you plant in summer chances are you will have to do additional water because this will encourage root growth. Just as most trees in the landscape benefit from mulch and suitable fertilizer the crape myrtle is no different.

[alert-note]Crape Myrtle Problems[/alert-note]

When the leaves begin to grow in the spring be sure to watch out for aphids. These annoying insects produce sugary secretions that in turn attract sooty mold spores, which cover the leaves. If you let the aphids over take the plant it can prevent blooms from forming.  I usually take a hose and spray the new leaves on a regular basis in my home garden to detour any aphids that may be lingering.

It’s easy to control aphids with malathion solutions by covering the leaves and flower buds. Be sure to watch for a white powdery mildew that  is common on the older trees. This mildew issue can sometimes stop trees blooming but most trees recover with the right treatment. Spraying with an anti-mildew solution at the first sign of the problem usually does the trick and you can repeat the treatment as often as is necessary.


Watch this video on Gardening Tips Playlist.

[alert-announce]Thank you for stopping by my site and checking out this post. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the crape myrtle tree so please share a comment below so we can connect.

Happy Gardening,

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