Crepe Myrtle Trees: Colorful Ornamental Trees Increase Property Value
Landscapers and homeowners choose to plant Crepe Myrtle when a splash of color is needed. These small to medium sized trees provide glamorous colors from late spring to late summer. Best planted in the warmer locations of the United States, Crepe Myrtles prefer USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 10. Although there are over 50 unique species in the Lagerstroemia genus, between 5 and 6 species grow particularly strong in these United States zones. These deciduous evergreen shrubs and trees are typically small, often not reaching above 40 feet in height. Some species remain less than 10 feet tall. These evergreens lose their bark throughout the year, and the Twilight Crepe Myrtle’s gray bark peels to reveal a pinkish undercoat. Vivacious coloring is what Crepe Myrtles are known for, and the reason why they are planted. Many landscapers choose to cultivate these trees as ornamentals, adding an accent focal point to garden plots.
A new tree is an undertaking for a variety of reasons. Research prior to choosing (and buying) a Crepe Myrtle is essential, as these physical stunners do not grow well in all locations. Crepe Myrtles prefer hot and moist climates, though some species can tolerate mild droughts. Many species are adaptable and low-maintenance. Read the quick-facts for the genus below before reviewing plant care in more detail in the following sections. A list of popular Crepe Myrtle species can be found here as well.
Sun: Plant in full sun. Modest access to afternoon partial shade works for many species.
Water: Water immediately after planting and once per week for the first year (every 5-7 days). Most plants will find weekly rainfall sufficient.
When to Plant: Plant in early spring or late fall.
How to Buy Crepe Myrtle Trees
Although hardy once established, Crepe Myrtle trees grow best in later stages when the initial growing stages are filled with experienced care and love. The Tree Center ensures this early success. With proper planting and daily care, The Tree Center’s Crepe Myrtle will grow into a healthy mature plant. Visit The Tree Center today to buy a Crepe Myrtle sapling.
How to Plant Crepe Myrtle Trees
Planting a new tree requires forethought and care. The first step is to determine which species, if any, of Crepe Myrtle works best for the property in question. Once a species has been determined, buy the Crepe Myrtle from a reputable arborist, such as The Tree Center.
When the tree arrives, observe the size of the root ball, or the mass of roots at the bottom of the sapling’s stem. This will assist in determining the size of the hole the sapling into which the tree will be inserted. Generally, the hole should be three times the size of the root ball. Width is more essential than depth. If the hole is too deep, air and water will have difficulty in reaching the roots of the tree. Make the hole one to two inches less deep than the height of the root ball, as the tree will eventually settle.
Once the hole has been dug, hold the tree vertically in the hole. Backfill the hole with soil and water. If adding mulch, do so now, layering no more than three inches in a three foot radius around the tree’s trunk. Water immediately after mulching.
Soil is an important component of successful tree growth. Soil is composed of multiple granular particles, and these particles determine the rate of movement of both air and water through the dirt. Smaller-sized particles typically stick together, slowing and sometimes stopping the movement of air and water. On the other hand, larger sized particles quicken the movement of air and water (and nutrient matter), often to the point where the roots of the Crepe Myrtle cannot intake the amount of air, water, and nutrient matter needed. Clay and silt are composed of smaller particles, while sand is made up of larger particles. The best soil composition is called loam, which contains a variety of soil size particles. This enables the soil to contain the best parts of each soil type. While many Crepe Myrtle trees are adaptable to poor soil conditions, it is best to determine the type of soil so proper fertilization, watering, and mulching can be applied to the area. Although Crepe Myrtles are often able to withstand poor soil quality, well-draining, balanced soil is preferred.
Most Crepe Myrtle Trees are drought-tolerant. This is essential for trees that enjoy full sun in dry, hot locations. Crepe Myrtles do require water to present their stunning blooms. If water in the region is scarce, either for short or extensive periods of time, provide irrigation services to the plant. Water the trees once per week if rainfall is less than an inch. The best way to maintain proper watering levels is to observe the tree. If the leaves are withered or crispy, often a single heavy watering can be beneficial.
Mulch and Fertilizer
Mulch and fertilizer provide assistance to plant development. Fertilizers can help compensate for poor soil. Mulch does this as well, while also increasing the water retention and air passage to the plant’s root systems.
Fertilizer is generally unnecessary with Crepe Myrtles. If fertilizers are needed in the planting region, either due to high acidity or baseness of the soil or poor macro-/micro-nutrient numbers, use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer. These are usually marked with a set of numbers (10-10-10, 20-20-20, etc.). This refers to the balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Mulch is beneficial when planting Crepe Myrtles. A thin 2-inch layer covering a three-foot radius around the tree will help retain water. Mulch also assists with water conservation, essentially ending excess water run-off.
Information on Crepe Myrtle Trees
Crepe Myrtles are planted for their colors. With blossoms in purple, red, white, lavender, and bright pink, Crepe Myrtles are valued for the unique vibrant focal point they offer gardens. These ornamental trees are often planted as accent plants, drawing attention toward the tree. Crepe Myrtles belong to the genus Lagerstroemia, and the family Lythraceae, or loosestrife. Unlike many other colorful small trees, Crepe Myrtles are both evergreen and summer bloomers.
Crepe Myrtle Tree Varieties and Cultivars
There are about 50 different Crepe Myrtle species, though those most popular and easy-to-grow in the United States are listed below. Many of the species are native to other regions of the world, such as India, southeast Asia, northern Australia, and Europe. With varieties ranging from a few inches to tall to over 100 feet tall, a Crepe Myrtle exists to suit the needs of many landscaping adventures.
Pink Velour Crepe
These Crepe Myrtles are popular for a variety of reasons. Pink Velour Crepes are drought-resistant with deep pink blossoms. These trees can be planted either individually, as accent ornamentals, or in rows 4-5 feet apart as privacy screens.
Tuscarora Crepe Myrtles are limited to zones 7 through 9, though their coral-colored blooms are often envied elsewhere. Adaptable to poor soil and limited water, Tuscaroras do best when planted with full sun. This variety is also fast-growing, reaching between 3 and 5 feet of new growth each growing season.
Red Rocket Crepe
Red Rocket Crepes grow well through a larger region of the United States than many other varieties: zones 6 through 9. The vivacious red blooms are the fastest-growing Crepe Myrtle, often growing more than 5 feet a year. The mature height of the Red Rocket Crepe Myrtle is between 20 and 30 feet tall.
The sublime Natchez Crepe Myrtle displays pure white blooms for long lengths of the summer, from June to September. The Natchez Crepe is also popular because of its fast-growth, which can be between 3 and 5 feet a year. The Natchez’s bark is also distinctive, offering a shimmery-brown throughout the year.
Catawba Crepe Myrtle
The Catawba Crepe Myrtle has dark lavender colored blossoms that begin in the late spring. The cone-shaped bloom clusters weigh heavy on the branches, causing the boughs to bend toward the ground. Despite this, the Catawba Crepe Myrtle reaches a moderate height between 10 and 15 feet tall.
Twilight Crepe Myrtle
The Twilight Crepe Myrtle is a favorite among landscapers. Vibrant purple blooms are paired with a grayish-brown bark that peels to display a pinkish undercoat. The low-maintenance Twilight Crepe Myrtle reaches between 20 and 25 feet tall, though some landscapers choose to prune this Crepe to a smaller-sized shrub or hedge.
Benefits of Crepe Myrtle Trees
For many areas of the United States, including the Southwest, Midwest, and Deep South, Crepe Myrtles offer a colorful reprieve from the less bountiful blossoms. These trees are adaptable, easy-to-grow, unique, eye-catching, and oftentimes drought-resistant.
Crepe Myrtle Tree Concerns
Although these species are loved because of their easy maintenance, Crepe Myrtles are susceptible to a variety of pests and funguses. The following list includes some of those that affect Crepe Myrtle Trees most often: powdery mildew, which leaves a powdery white film on the tree’s leaves; Tinocallis kahawaluokalani, or Crepemyrtle aphids; Altica, a dark-green beetle; Japanese beetles; and a fungus called Cercospora lythracearum.