There are few plant combinations as harmonious as hostas and crepe myrtles. Although they may appear unrelated, one might assume they would compete for resources and hinder each other’s growth.
However, a closer look proves the exact opposite.
Hostas and crepe myrtles are excellent companions. Hostas require partial to full shade, which is what the crepe myrtle offers under its canopy. They both have the same growing conditions, and the hardy hosta can tolerate the warm Growing Zones 6 to 9 that the crepe myrtle requires.
That said, some problems might creep up once you get the two plants growing together.
Read more to find out how to pair hostas with crepe myrtles and limit the competition over resources while keeping enough space under the crepe myrtle’s drip line for the hosta to grow and thrive.
If you’re looking for the perfect plants to accompany your Crepe Myrtle, consider reading my article on Crepe Myrtle companion plants.
Hostas Under Crepe Myrtle – What To Know
When choosing a plant to grow under a tree, that plant has to meet a few conditions.
Does the growing season overlap with that of the tree? Is the companion plant’s root system invasive and over-competitive?
Then you have the soil, temperature, and light requirements for both plants to consider. And last but not least, you have to ask yourself whether the companion plant benefits the tree and vice versa.
The Appeal of Hostas
The clump-forming hosta has more to offer a landscape than meets the eye. For one thing, it’s a perennial plant that averages 48 inches tall and 60 inches wide.
Its ability to spread combined with its tolerance for both full and partial shade makes it an ideal companion plant to grow in the small space under the crepe myrtle.
Their variegated heart-shaped leaves are the hosta’s greatest appeal. In the summer, long stalks come out of the clump of foliage, and fragrant pink, white, and purple open up and attract pollinators.
Add to that their low maintenance and care requirements, and you’ll see why they are an excellent choice for gardens and as companion plants.
Since they do well in pots, hostas are also a popular houseplant choice.
Crepe Myrtle Growing Conditions
The crepe myrtle is a rather small tree under 30 feet tall with a spread of about 15 feet. Native to Asia, this ornamental tree has adapted well to the climate and conditions in the United States.
The crepe myrtle needs well-draining soil. If you have clay soil, then amending it with perlite or coarse sand should improve its texture.
Keep the pH levels slightly acidic, around 6.0 to 6.5. That’s also how the hosta prefers the soil, so you’ll be fixing it for both plants.
Unlike the hosta, the crepe myrtle needs full sun. During the spring and summer, the tree should get at least 6 hours of sunlight every day.
This can have a dramatic effect on the color and abundance of the blooms and overall foliage health.
Another aspect that both crepe myrtles and hostas share is that they both favor moist soil. The crepe myrtle needs between 1 and 1.5 inches of water every week. That’s roughly the same as the hosta.
Keeping the soil moist during the hot season will prevent many issues and diseases. That said, you should avoid getting the foliage wet. Aim the water at the roots of the tree.
The crepe myrtle prefers warm conditions, and neither the shallow roots nor the branches can survive very cold temperatures. The dormant season is the best time for pruning.
Fertilizing is not absolutely necessary with the crepe myrtle, but providing nutrients will benefit growth and blooms.
Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer, similar to the one you’d apply to the hosta, in the early spring. Alternatively, use a blend that is specially formulated for crepe myrtles, like this one.
Using fast-release fertilizers could trigger dense foliage but inhibit the blooms.
Hosta Growing Conditions
As a houseplant and a garden plant, the hosta doesn’t require special growing conditions and can do well in different settings. It is hardy in Grow Zones 3 to 9.
Hostas are hardy in both cold and warm temperatures although they need temperatures under 42 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to go dormant.
Hostas need from 1 to 5 feet of space from the nearest plant. They thrive in loamy and well-drained soil.
The best time to plant them is in the spring or four weeks before the first frost in the fall. They prefer rich soil that is slightly acidic.
Although they can tolerate full shade, variegated hostas need dappled sunlight. This is the kind of light they would get under the canopy of the crepe myrtle.
Make sure to pick a spot that doesn’t get strong winds. Planting them downwind from the crepe myrtle offers them protection against strong gusts of wind.
Where to plant them under the canopy of the myrtle depends on the hosta variety you chose.
Established hostas can tolerate dry soil for short periods of time, but young hostas need constantly moist soil. Water them once or twice a week with 1 inch of water, and use mulch to keep the soil moist.
Feed hostas with compost or an organic fertilizer once a year in the early spring.
In late fall when the hosta dies back, cut it to the ground.
Benefits of Planting Hostas Under Crepe Myrtles
Hostas and crepe myrtles are not ideal companion plants just because they share the same growing conditions.
As it turns out, hostas give as much to the symbiotic relationship they have with crepe myrtles as they get.
Here are the benefits you’ll get from planting hostas under crepe myrtles:
- Hostas are hardy to cold temperatures. In the winter, the hostas will cover the ground and protect the roots of the myrtle from freezing over.
- Hostas are low maintenance. They practically take care of themselves and require less work and care than other plants.
- The fragrant varieties of hosta attract good bugs that prey on pests such as aphids, scale, and mites which often target the myrtle.
- Hostas add color and fragrance to the landscape while keeping weeds and other invasive plants at bay.
- Hostas offer shelter to many good bugs and attract wildlife.
While planting hostas under crepe myrtles has a lot of benefits for both plants, there are some considerations to keep in mind.
- Overplanting can have an adverse impact on both the crepe myrtle and the hostas. Too many hostas could promote competition over resources and lead to diseases.
- The crepe myrtle has a shallow root system. A hosta in the wrong place that happens to be near the roots of the tree could end up being choked to death.
- Some hosta varieties need partial sun. These varieties need to be near the drip line of the crepe myrtle.
- Don’t plant hostas near the trunk of the tree.
Best Hosta Varieties
Hostas come in all shapes and sizes. Some are quite tiny, not exceeding 9 inches tall at maturity.
Small hostas average 15 inches tall while medium hostas can grow to 21 inches. Large and giant hostas can reach 29 and 48 inches respectively.
When choosing a hosta variety to plant under your crepe myrtle, both miniature and small hostas will do well considering the small space under the canopy of the tree.
Here are some varieties and cultivars to choose from:
- Whirlwind Hosta: A small-to-medium cultivar with ruffled variegated leaves. The leaves are mostly bright yellow with green edges and white in the center.
- Halcyon: Grows to about 16 inches high and has blue-green leaves.
- Mouse Ears: A miniature hosta growing to 6 inches tall with small blue leaves. It favors shade.
- Stained Glass: A delightful cultivar with heart-shaped, variegated leaves that grows to 12 inches tall at maturity. It requires partial to full sun.
Companion Planting Ideas
The hosta is not the only plant to pair with the crepe myrtle. The tree is quite welcoming when it comes to companion plants, and you can add to the little under-canopy garden with a host of very colorful plants.
I recommend adding one plant at a time and be mindful of spacing and competition over resources.
Some of the good companion plant candidates include ferns, ajuga, foamflower, coral bells, creeping Jenny, and creeping phlox among others.
Ground covers are always an excellent addition since they manage weeds and transform the landscape with their colors.
What Trees Look Good With Crepe Myrtles?
Evergreens and cherry trees are always good companions to crepe myrtles, but any small tree that enjoys similar growing conditions will look nice.
Why Do Crepe Myrtles Shed Bark?
When the crepe myrtle matures, its bark stops growing with the trunk. Every year, the tree grows thicker and taller, and the old bark falls away from the trunk making room for new bark.
You can remove the old bark to give the tree a neat look if desired.
Hostas do well under a crepe myrtle as they both share the same growing conditions.
Variegated hostas need partial sun and should be planted near the drip line of the crepe myrtle. Add ground cover plants to create a stunning landscape under the tree.
For even more about Crepe Myrtle care, be sure to read: