How To Grow And Care For Crepe Myrtle

Southerners recall the smell of a freshly mowed yard, the high-pitched screech of cicadas on sweltering days, the taste of sweet watermelon, and gigantic crepe myrtles bent low by their blossoms.

Light

Place crepe myrtles in the sunniest, most spacious area. Shaded or partially sunny crepe myrtles bloom poorly. Avoid porch ceilings and other overhangs for crepe myrtle roots.

Soil

Crepe myrtles like semi-acid soil. Test soil pH with your local extension agent. Home testing kits cannot change soil, but extension agencies may. Lower soil pH over 6.5 with garden sulphur.   

Water

In their first year, crepe myrtles need damp, well-draining soil and continuous watering to minimise air pockets and root drying. These drought-resistant plants only need water every other week after early growth.    

Temperature and Humidity

Upper South: plant cold-hardy crepe myrtles like 'Acoma,' 'Centennial Spirit,' or 'Hopi' In moist, humid July–fall circumstances, ‘Tonto,’ ‘Catawba,’ ‘Sioux,’ and ‘Tuskegee’ resist Cercosporin lythracearum leaf spot damage.

Fertilizer

Give newly planted crepe myrtles liquid fertilizer every two weeks in summer if soil is sandy or poor. Crepe myrtles only need fertilizer in spring before new growth after the first season.  

Mulching

Use acidic mulch like pine bark or oak leaves for support.  

Popular Types of Crepe Myrtle

Lagerstroemia indica/subcostata var. fauriei hybrids dominate crepe myrtles today. Options vary often. Many Native American names, like 'Natchez,' mature larger than claimed over the past 20 years.   

Crepe myrtle (L. indica)

The Southern tree blooms best in June. It likes well-drained soil and heat and drought. They may freeze to the ground but sprout in harsh Upper South winters.   

Japanese Crepe Myrtle (L. subcostata var. fauriei.)

Japanese trees are 20–30 feet tall and wide with straight trunks and outward-arching branches. A 4-inch blade grows on green leaves. Through smooth grey bark, these trees' cinnamon-brown bark shines.   

Queen's Crepe Myrtle (L. speciosa)

This 30–60-foot crepe myrtle has large clusters of pink or lavender flowers in June and July and is the showiest and tenderest. Each bloom is 2 inches. Falling leaves are 4–12 inches long and crimson.  

Pruning

Newly blooming crepe myrtles need late winter or early spring pruning. Short, dwarf cultivars need little trimming. Medium and tall trees should be cut. Trim base suckers, twigs, crossing, and centre branches.   

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