Guide to Planting Crepe Myrtle
Crepe myrtle is a fast-growing deciduous tree or shrub that is particularly popular in the South and Southeast regions and hardy in zones 6 through 10. Due to its multi-stemmed appearance, the tree is commonly grown in yards and public areas for an addition of color and interest. Dwarf crepe myrtle is perfect for containers and as an accent shrub in flower beds.
About the Crepe Myrtle
The crepe myrtle grows in 3 different ways:
- Tree - About 15 to 20 feet tall
- Shrub - 5 to 7 feet tall
- Dwarf - 12 to 24 inches tall
In Southern climates, the crepe myrtle begins to flower mid-spring, and in northern areas, it blooms in the summer. Flowering in all regions continues until the fall. The flowers grow in 6 to 12-inch long clusters that are 3 to 5 inches wide, and clusters from the dwarf varieties are smaller.
Crepe myrtle trees are available in a range of flower colors, including purple, lavender, white, pink, and red. Some types of crepe myrtle have bicolor flowers. The bark on the plant peels off in the summer, exposing a new layer.
The crepe myrtle enters a dormant state starting in the late fall and lasting throughout the winter. During this time, the leaves fall off, but the roots keep growing.
Step 1— Plant at the Proper Time
Plant crepe myrtles in the cool season, when the tree is still dormant.
Step 2 —Pick the Right Planting Location
Choose an area that receives full sun. Plenty of light ensures that the crepe myrtle will have abundant flowers, and shade diminishes the likelihood of flowers and color.
Step 3 — Establish the Soil Requirements
The crepe myrtle prefers well-draining clay, loam, or sandy soils. The pH level of the soil should be 5.5 to 7.5. Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer in the spring as soon as the leaves appear and again in two months.
Step 4 — Plant the Tree or Shrub
Dig a hole the same depth as the nursery pot and twice as wide. Remove the tree from the container by placing it on its side and carefully sliding it out. Always handle a crepe myrtle tree by the root ball without holding onto the trunk.
Pack native soil around the roots to eliminate air pockets. Fill in the hole with the rest of the soil.
Step 5 — Water
Water the newly planted tree 1 to 3 times a week. A young crepe myrtle tree needs water during dry periods after the first growing season. If you are unable to provide young trees with consistent water, use a water ring. Once your tree reaches maturity, it will be naturally drought-resistant.
Step 6— Mulch
Add a layer of mulch around the tree to keep away grass and weeds and to help retain moisture. Mulch also provides good protection for the roots throughout the winter. Do not allow mulch to touch the tree trunk.