The flowers of crepe myrtles make them a highly sought after option for landscapes, as they are known for being both vibrant and long-lasting.
However, like any plant, they come with their own set of questions and concerns. Let’s take a look at the most common questions about crepe myrtle trees.
Are crepe myrtles easy to grow? Crepe myrtles are generally considered easy to grow. They are known for their hardiness and adaptability, capable of thriving in a variety of soil types and weather conditions. These trees prefer full sun and well-drained soil to achieve optimal growth and blooming.
From understanding their growth patterns to tackling common pests and diseases, the following sections will cover the top 26 questions about crepe myrtle trees.
Whether you’re considering adding a crepe myrtle to your landscape or already have one and want to learn more about its care, this guide has got you covered.
Knowledge is power! Learn about the best varieties, discover pro care tips and propagation methods, explore possible issues, and much more in my detailed Crepe Myrtle Guide.
1. How Fast Do Crepe Myrtle Trees Grow?
Crepe myrtle trees have a moderately fast growth rate, typically growing 1 to 2 feet per year. However, this can vary depending on the specific variety and growing conditions.
With optimal care, including sufficient sunlight, water, and nutrients, crepe myrtles can grow robustly and bloom profusely.
2. How Tall Do Crepe Myrtle Trees Get?
The height of crepe myrtle trees can vary greatly depending on the variety. Dwarf varieties can stay as small as 3 feet, making them suitable for container gardening or small spaces.
On the other hand, standard varieties can reach over 20 feet in height, providing a striking presence in the landscape.
3. Are Crepe Myrtles High Maintenance?
Crepe myrtles are relatively low maintenance, making them a favorite among gardeners. They require minimal pruning and are resistant to most pests and diseases.
Regular watering during dry periods and an annual application of a balanced fertilizer can help ensure vibrant blooms and healthy growth.
4. Where Do Crepe Myrtles Grow Best?
Crepe myrtles grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. They are hardy in USDA Zones 7-9, but they can tolerate colder climates with proper winter protection.
These trees are versatile and can adapt to a variety of soil conditions, although they prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil.
5. Do Crepe Myrtles Like Acidic Soil?
Crepe myrtles can tolerate a range of soil pH levels, but they prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6.0-7.0).
Acidic soil can enhance the uptake of certain nutrients, promoting healthier growth. However, these trees are quite adaptable and can also thrive in slightly alkaline soils.
6. Do Crepe Myrtles Have Invasive Roots?
Crepe myrtles do not have invasive roots. Their root system is extensive but generally does not cause damage to foundations or underground pipes.
This makes them a safe choice for planting near houses or other structures. However, like all trees, they should be planted at a safe distance from any underground utilities.
7. Can Crepe Myrtle Trees Be Grown in Pots?
Yes, dwarf varieties of crepe myrtle can be successfully grown in pots. These smaller varieties make excellent container plants for patios and balconies, adding a splash of color with their vibrant blooms.
When growing crepe myrtles in pots, ensure the container is large enough to accommodate the tree’s growth and has adequate drainage to prevent waterlogging.
8. When Does Crepe Myrtle Bloom?
Crepe myrtle trees bloom in the summer, typically from June to September. The blooms last for several weeks, providing a spectacular display of color.
The exact timing of the bloom can vary depending on the specific variety and the local climate.
9. Do Crepe Myrtles Bloom First Year?
While crepe myrtles are known for their spectacular blooms, they may not bloom in their first year as they focus on establishing their root system.
However, with proper care, including sufficient sunlight, water, and nutrients, they should start blooming in their second year.
10. How Often Do You Water a Crepe Myrtle Tree?
Crepe myrtle trees are tolerant of drought once established, but they do appreciate regular watering during dry periods.
For newly planted trees, water them deeply once a week for the first few months to help establish the root system.
After that, you can reduce watering, but keep in mind that the soil should not be allowed to dry out completely.
11. Should Crepe Myrtles Be Pruned?
Crepe myrtles require minimal pruning, but it can be done to maintain their shape and remove dead or diseased wood.
It’s important to avoid over-pruning, often referred to as “crepe murder,” which can lead to weak growth and fewer blooms.
12. When Is the Best Time To Prune Crepe Myrtles?
The best time to prune crepe myrtles is in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This allows you to see the structure of the tree clearly and make precise cuts.
13. Should Crepe Myrtles Be Topped?
Topping, or cutting back the branches of a tree drastically, is not recommended for crepe myrtles.
This practice, often referred to as “crepe murder,” can lead to weak, spindly growth and fewer blooms. Instead, prune lightly to maintain the tree’s natural shape and promote healthy growth.
14. When Is It Too Late To Prune Crepe Myrtles?
It’s best to avoid pruning crepe myrtles once they’ve begun their spring growth. Pruning at this time can lead to fewer blooms and may stress the tree.
If you miss the late winter or early spring pruning window, it’s best to wait until the following year.
15. When Should I Fertilize My Crepe Myrtle?
Crepe myrtles should be fertilized in early spring, just before new growth begins.
Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to provide a steady supply of nutrients throughout the growing season, or use a specialty blend like the one I use.
16. Do Crepe Myrtles Like Coffee Grounds?
Coffee grounds can be used as a soil amendment for crepe myrtles. They add organic matter to the soil and can help lower the pH, making it more acidic.
However, coffee grounds should be used as part of a balanced fertilization program and not as the sole source of nutrients.
17. What Are the White Spots on Crepe Myrtle?
White spots on crepe myrtle leaves or stems are often a sign of powdery mildew, a common fungal disease.
This can be treated with a fungicide and prevented by ensuring good air circulation around the tree.
18. What Are the Sprouts at the Bottom of My Crepe Myrtle?
The sprouts at the bottom of a crepe myrtle are called suckers. They grow from the base of the tree and can detract from the tree’s appearance.
It’s generally recommended to remove these suckers to maintain the tree’s shape and direct energy toward the main branches.
19. Why Do Crepe Myrtles Shed Their Bark?
Crepe myrtles naturally shed their bark as part of their growth process. This usually happens in late summer and reveals a smooth, mottled trunk underneath.
Many feel that this bark shedding adds to the charm and appeal of the crepe myrtle.
20. What Attacks Crepe Myrtles?
Crepe myrtles can be attacked by a variety of pests, including aphids, Japanese beetles, and bark scale. They can also be affected by several diseases, such as powdery mildew and leaf spot.
Regular monitoring and prompt treatment can help keep these issues in check.
21. What Pairs Well With Crepe Myrtles?
Ornamental grasses, ground cover, and evergreen shrubs can provide contrast and beauty throughout the seasons.
22. Will Grass Grow Under Crepe Myrtles?
Grass can struggle to grow under crepe myrtles due to the shade provided by the tree’s canopy.
If you want to grow grass under a crepe myrtle, choose a shade-tolerant variety, and ensure it gets enough water as the tree’s roots can compete for moisture.
23. What Is the Prettiest Crepe Myrtle?
The “prettiest” crepe myrtle can be subjective and depends on personal preference.
Some popular choices include the ‘Natchez‘ with its pure-white flowers, the ‘Tuscarora’ with coral-pink flowers, and the ‘Dynamite’ with bright-red flowers. Each variety has its own unique charm.
24. Are There Dwarf Crepe Myrtles?
Yes, there are dwarf varieties of crepe myrtle that grow only 3 to 6 feet tall. These smaller varieties are perfect for small gardens, borders, or container gardening.
Some popular dwarf varieties include the ‘Chickasaw’ and ‘Pocomoke‘.
25. What’s the Difference Between a Crepe Myrtle and a Wax Myrtle?
Crepe myrtle and wax myrtle are different types of plants.
Crepe myrtle is known for its showy summer blooms and peeling bark while wax myrtle is an evergreen shrub with aromatic foliage and small, waxy berries.
26. Is Japanese Maple Better Than Crepe Myrtle?
Whether a Japanese maple is “better” than a crepe myrtle depends on your specific needs and preferences. Both are attractive trees with their own unique features.
Japanese maples are known for their stunning fall color and delicate foliage, while crepe myrtles are loved for their vibrant summer blooms and attractive bark.
Crepe myrtles are a wonderful addition to any landscape, offering vibrant blooms, attractive bark, and year-round interest.
With minimal care requirements and few serious issues, what’s not to love? Best of luck with your crepe myrtles!