Profuse Blooms to Liven Up Your Garden

Crape Myrtles, also known by the botanical name Lagerstroemia indica, are deciduous shrubs that range from 4’ in height to trees that can grow up to 30’ tall and wide. There is a great variety of these shrubs and trees that are generally cultivars of Lagerstroemia indica, bred for particular traits such as size, flower color, foliage color, or disease resistance. They are available as single or multi-trunked trees.

Lagerstroemia provide interest throughout the seasons. They offer shiny mid-green to dark green leaves in the spring and summer, vibrant, colorful blooms in the late summer, deep red and burgundy or orange-colored leaves in the fall, and attractive, peeling, mottled gray and tan bark on display in winter.

Crape Myrtles originate from southeastern China and have been in cultivation for over 2000 years due to their many charming attributes. The ‘crape’ name refers to the delicately wavy edges of their eye-catching flowers, similar to the intricately crafted flowers made from crepe paper. This can account for the different spelling of crape myrtles, as they are sometimes called crepe myrtles. These cheerful trees brighten up neighborhoods with their effusive displays of lavender, white, red, or pink blooms in July and August.

Image of a close up of the pink/purple flowers of the crape myrtle or Lagerstroemia indica tree.

Conditions for a Thriving Crape Myrtle

Lagerstroemia love the heat and full sun. Indeed, if they are planted in partial shade, their blooms will turn white and will not be as plentiful. An ideal planting spot is next to a heat soaked patio or a south or west-facing driveway where it can bask in reflected heat from the concrete or stone. For this reason, Crape Myrtles also thrive as street trees and can tolerate some air pollution, provided they also receive enough water.

Crape Myrtles like moist but well-drained soil. It is important to amend clay soil when planting this tree, and be sure to plant it a little above grade to enhance drainage. These trees and shrubs can tolerate drought conditions if necessary but produce more blooms with some summer water. Their preference is for a deep but infrequent watering schedule.

Planting in summer works better for Crape Myrtles than some other trees, which may develop transplant shock. Their roots grow faster in the heat of summer, which helps them to adapt to their new growing site.

Image of the top of a crepe myrtle or lagerstroemia indica tree showing off it's prolific pink blooms.

Care of Crape Myrtles

  • Plant in hot, full-sun locations.
  • Feed with a slow-release fertilizer, such as Osmocote to give them a steady flow of nutrients throughout the growing season.
  • Water deeply throughout the summer.
  • Mulch around the base to help retain water.

Pruning Crape Myrtles

Lagerstroemia species should be pruned minimally in late winter. They bloom on new wood, so trimming in the spring and summer should be avoided, as this would remove the flower buds. Pruning should be limited to general removal of any dead branches, raising the branch level of the tree to reveal the attractive bark, as well as  general thinning to encourage air circulation and discourage powdery mildew, which they can be susceptible to.

Image of a close up of the attractive, peeling, mottled gray and tan bark of the crepe myrtle or lagerstroemia indica that appears in winter.

Multi-Use Trees

Not only do these trees function well as a patio or street tree, they also make the perfect focal-point tree since they offer year-round interest. These shrubs or trees can be used in mass plantings to line a driveway or path. They also blend in well and provide late summer color in a sunny mixed planting border or a drought tolerant garden.

Lagerstroemia Cultivars Commonly Available:

Lagerstoemia ‘Dynamite’

Bright red and beautiful flowers burst from this show-stopping tree! The leaves emerge red in spring and mature into a handsome dark green. A medium-sized Crape Myrtle grows 15-20’ tall and 10-15’ wide.

Lagerstroemia ‘Muskogee’

The blooms are a delicate lavender color, which light up the tree in late summer and are followed by an orange fall color. The tree reaches 20-30’ tall and 15-20’ wide. A fast growing cultivar.

Lagerstroemia’Natchez’

The flowers are pure white and cover the tree in mid or late summer. It grows to a height of 25-30’ and a width of 15-25’.

Lagerstroemia ‘Tuscarora’ 

Produces vibrant showy coral-pink blooms. The tree reaches 15’ tall and wide.

Contact Frontier Landscaping to help you select and plant the perfect crape myrtle tree for your yard.

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