Caring for Your Crepe Myrtle

Kevin Smith January 26, 2023

When it comes to gorgeous, long-lasting summer blossoms, there isn’t much that can compare to the prolific and lovely crape myrtle. The Crape Myrtle, or Lagerstroemia Lythracae, is a lovely class of flowering trees and shrubs of around 50 different species. Also known as loosestrife, the crape (or crepe) myrtle is a highly diverse plant. For instance, did you know that some are deciduous, others are evergreen, and they can range in size from barely a foot to over 100 feet tall? It’s true! The dwarf myrtle averages at around 3 feet, while the Lord Crepe Myrtle (pretty accurate name, if we don’t say) towers at around 34 meters or 111 feet! 

No matter the species, the crepe myrtle all come together in their highly desirable landscaping features. Features such as their gorgeous delicate frilly and rippled blooms, the peeling bark with the distinct texture that comes with it, and a color palette ranging from deep purple and lavender to ivory, gleaming white, light pink, magenta, and a deep red ensure that the crepe myrtle is a standout in any environment. 

Their native range is vast, and local species can be found from India to Asia and Indonesia to Australia. From as far North as Central China to the bottom of the world, you can find them just about anywhere! Not only that, but they’ve taken hold in the United States in a major way and can be found growing wild all throughout the nation.  

Yes, the crepe myrtle is an incredible and varied plant, perfect for your home and garden no matter what the style. But what do we need to do to ensure that our crape myrtle thrives? Well, that’s just what this reading is all about! Keep going to learn all about caring for your crepe myrtle. 

Uses of Crepe Myrtle 

Cultivated from California to Japan and everywhere in between, particularly in tropical and subtropical climates where the warm weather really lets them thrive and bloom as long as possible, the crepe myrtle is popular as a colorful hedge or a fantastically decorative privacy screen. Additionally, larger trees can make a really stunning focal point, and attention-grabbing spectacle no matter the landscape. Due to their incredible size diversity, certain species can even be cultivated in containers. 

Crape myrtles are cultivated worldwide, most often in tropical and subtropical climates where the warm weather helps them to thrive and show off their outstanding beauty. These plants are often used as colorful hedges or privacy screens, while larger plants make amazing focal points and eye-catching specimens in any landscape. Smaller varieties may even be grown in containers.

Caring for Your Crepe Myrtle

How to care for your crepe myrtle

Provided you live in the right climate, meaning anywhere from tropical to at least somewhat temperate, your crape myrtle is a fairly low-maintenance option for the amount of flair it can bring to your landscape or garden. However, it DOES require a few specific care points to really ensure those blossoms dazzle. Check out the following list to keep your crape myrtle in stunning form: 

  • Place in Full Sunlight

Your crape myrtle wants at least 6 hours of full sunlight to thrive. Any less and blossoms won’t be as numerous, and their colors may be less vibrant than you would like. 

  • Use Healthy and Proper Soil

You’ll be happy to know that the crape myrtle isn’t particularly demanding when it comes to regulating the ph of the soil. However, you’ll find they do best in neutral to a slightly acidic substrate. One tip to remember is that a crape myrtle should be planted in a well-draining area, however, as the plant is prone to root rot if left in too much water. 

  • Lightly Fertilize 
  • A slow-release fertilizer high in nitrogen will optimize your crape myrtle’s flowers and growth. Just make sure not to overfertilize with a choice that promotes leaf growth, or the green may push your flowers out of the picture! 
  • Get Ahold of Fungus Early 
  • It’s important to watch out for powdery mildew, as well as other fungal infections such as sooty mold. Treatment with a general fungicide can work wonders to avoid an infected plant. 
  • Prune Lightly in Winter or Early Spring
  • The crape myrtle is a new wood-blooming plant, so it’s important to prune in late winter or early spring in order to stimulate the flowering process. Be sure and remove tangled branches, suckers, and irregular shapes in order to optimize the form of your plant. 
  • Optimize your crepe’s features by exposing the trunk. 
  • The crape myrtle is a beautiful plant with distinctive peeling bark. This is a truly stunning feature, especially on the larger varietals. By pruning away lower branches on roughly the bottom 4-5 feet (depending on the size, of course) of the trunk, you can really unlock the potential of this delicate plant. 
  • Deadhead to stimulate flower growth 
  • You can stimulate flower growth in early-blooming varieties of crape myrtle via judicious deadheading, but remember that this will lead to a decrease in the second bloom. 

Call Red’s Tree Service for all arboreal needs! 

Crape myrtles are a stunning addition to any type of landscape, no matter if you are looking for a colorful hedge, an eye-catching specimen or just a chromatic burst of floral wonder to add to your yard. If you know how to properly care for these plants, then you can ensure that you have an amazing show of blooms all summer long. 

Red’s Tree Service has the best arborists available in and around Memphis and the surrounding areas, and we know just how to make your landscape pop. Call today to see how good your lawn and garden can look!