Tonto Crepe Myrtle: A Smaller Variety With Huge Appeal

Picture a tree that perfectly complements the snug corner of your garden but still manages to catch attention with its brilliant burst of color. This tree may be small in size, but its larger-than-life personality makes it the highlight of your outdoor area.

This is the Tonto crepe myrtle, a compact variety of crepe myrtle that packs a huge appeal.

Its stunning fuchsia blooms and attractive, peeling bark make it a beloved choice among garden enthusiasts, homeowners, and landscape designers.

How big do Tonto crape myrtles get? Despite its grandeur in beauty, the Tonto Crepe Myrtle is a modest tree in terms of size. It typically reaches a height of 8-10 feet and a width of 6-8 feet, making it an ideal choice for smaller landscapes or for adding a pop of color to any garden without overwhelming the space.

If you’re considering adding a Tonto crepe myrtle to your garden or if you’re simply curious about this charming tree, read on. We’ll cover its growth habits, ideal growing conditions, maintenance needs, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • The Tonto crepe myrtle is a compact tree that reaches a height of 8-10 feet and a width of 6-8 feet. It’s known for its vibrant fuchsia blooms that last from late June to early fall.
  • This tree thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 7-9, prefers full sun to partial shade, and grows best in well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
  • Regular watering, annual fertilization, and pruning in late winter or early spring are important.
  • Tonto crepe myrtle can serve as a specimen tree, a border plant, or a privacy screen.

For a comprehensive look at even more Crepe Myrtle, read to my article, Best Crepe Myrtle Varieties.

Tonto Crepe Myrtle

The Tonto crepe myrtle is a deciduous tree that is cherished for its summer-long display of bright fuchsia flowers. Here’s a quick overview of its key characteristics:

Botanical NameLagerstroemia ‘Tonto’
Mature Height8-10 feet
Mature Width6-8 feet
Growth RateModerate
Light PreferencesFull sun to partial shade
Ideal SoilWell-drained, slightly acidic soil
Watering NeedsModerate
Bloom ColorFuchsia
Bloom TimeLate June to early fall
Fall FoliageOrange to red

General Appearance

The Tonto crepe myrtle is a compact tree with a broad, rounded canopy. Its unique bark is smooth and peels away in patches to reveal a mix of gray and brown underneath.

The leaves are oval in shape and dark green, providing a beautiful contrast to the bright fuchsia blooms.

Growth Rate & Mature Size

With a moderate growth rate, the Tonto crepe myrtle can reach a mature height of 8-10 feet and a width of 6-8 feet. Its compact size makes it an excellent choice for smaller yards.

The rate of growth will, of course, be dependent on the growing conditions and the care it receives.

Blooms

The Tonto crepe myrtle is renowned for its spectacular display of fuchsia flowers. The blooms start appearing in late June or early July and continue until early fall.

Each flower is composed of delicate, crinkled petals that cluster together to form large, showy panicles 6-7 inches in length.

Hardiness

The Tonto crepe myrtle is a hardy tree that can withstand a variety of conditions, including the salty air of coastal areas.

It tolerates drought well once established and does well in the heat, making it an excellent choice for areas with hot summers. It’s also resistant to many common pests and diseases that affect other trees.

Tonto Crepe Myrtle Growing Conditions

The Tonto crepe myrtle thrives in a variety of growing conditions and is fairly adaptable. Here’s what you need to know regarding growing conditions:

  • Grow Zones: This tree is best suited to USDA Hardiness Zones 7-9. It can tolerate cold down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Sun Requirements: Tonto prefers full sun to partial shade. A minimum of six hours of direct sunlight each day will ensure the best bloom production.
  • Soil Preferences: The tree prefers well-drained, slightly acidic soil that drains fast. It can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay, loam, and sandy soils.

Tonto Crepe Myrtle Maintenance and Care

The care and maintenance needed for a Tonto crepe myrtle are minimal, but regular watering, fertilization, and some pruning are required for optimal tree health.

  • Watering: Water your Tonto crepe myrtle regularly, especially during its first year of growth and any extended dry periods. However, be careful not to overwater as this can lead to root rot.
  • Fertilization: Fertilize your tree in early spring with a slow-release, balanced fertilizer to promote healthy growth and abundant blooms. I recommend this one designed especially for crepe myrtles.
  • Pruning: Lightly prune your Tonto crepe myrtle while the tree is dormant in late winter or early spring to maintain its shape and encourage new growth.

Pests & Diseases

The Tonto crepe myrtle is resistant to many common pests and diseases. However, it can occasionally be affected by aphids, powdery mildew, sooty mold, and the dreaded crepe myrtle bark scale.

Monitor your tree regularly for issues, and treat any problems promptly.

Landscape Uses

The Tonto crepe myrtle will be a showpiece no matter where you plant it. It’s perfect as a specimen tree, but it can also be used in borders or even as a privacy screen when planted in a row.

Companion Plants

Consider pairing the Tonto crepe myrtle with plants that complement its vibrant and bold fuchsia blooms. Some good companions include white- or blue-flowering plants, groundcovers, or low-growing specimens like hostas.

Where To Buy

You can purchase Tonto crepe myrtle trees from reputable nurseries or online plant retailers. Some recommended online nurseries include:

Final Thoughts

The Tonto crepe myrtle is a charming tree that brings a splash of color to any landscape. With its vibrant fuchsia blooms, compact size, and hardy nature, it’s a wonderful addition to any garden.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, this tree is relatively easy to care for and can provide you with a stunning display of flowers every summer.

Still not sure which Crepe Myrtle is right for you? Here are 2 other popular varieties: