What To Plant Under Crepe Myrtle: Top 23 Beautiful Options

The crepe myrtle is a decorative tree that goes through seasonal changes, displaying green leaves in the spring, attractive flowers in the summer, and autumn colors in the fall.

With over 50 known species, there’s a crepe myrtle for every garden and yard. Best of all, the myrtle is an accommodating tree that welcomes a large host of plants to grow under its canopy.

Still unsure about what to pair with your Crepe Myrtle? My article on Crepe Myrtle companion plants could be of help.

Here are the top 23 plants to pair with the crepe myrtle.

1. Hosta

A large multi-trunk crepe myrtle surrounded by groundcover plants like hostas.

Hosta is a popular plant that thrives in the shade and doesn’t need much if any sunlight.

That makes Hostas an ideal companion to the crepe myrtle with its dense canopy and heavy shade.

Hostas are perennials averaging 6 to 48 inches tall and 10 to 60 inches wide depending on the species. It blooms in the summer in white, purple, and pink.

2. Ferns 

Pretty garden ferns as viewed from above.

Ferns add a tropical touch to any garden or setting. There are thousands of known fern species with more being added regularly.

As expected, their mature size varies. Some only grow to a few inches high while others are much larger.

For the purpose of pairing with the crepe myrtle, small ferns that favor partial shade will do well near the drip line of the crepe myrtle. Ferns don’t flower, but their leaves vary from light yellow-green to dark green.

3. Ajuga 

Ajuga, or bugleweed, purple flowers as viewed from above.

Ajuga, or bugleweed, is a herbaceous perennial that is excellent ground cover. It has a fast growth rate, and thanks to its creeping nature, it chokes out weeds.

However, it can become invasive as it’s always sending out runners that take root in the soil.

It grows to about 9 inches tall and 12 inches wide. It favors full sun but can tolerate partial shade and blooms between May and June. The flowers are usually blue or violet.

4. Japanese Forest Grass

A row of Japanese forest grass.

Japanese forest grass is a highly ornamental grass with long, thin blades that come in yellow and green. The variegated leaves grow to about 10 inches high while whole clumps reach about 34 inches tall.

This perennial plant favors partial shade and provides a colorful ground cover. Surprisingly, the grass blooms in the summer with flowers in yellow and green.

5. Foamflower 

A close look at foamflower plants in full bloom.

Named after its foamy flowers which bloom in white or pink, this wildflower is a staple in many gardens. Foamflower prefers full shade although they can tolerate partial sunlight.

The mature plant averages 1 to 3 feet tall and 6 to 12 inches wide. 

6. Coral Bells 

Wet coral bell leaves in assorted colors.

Coral bells is an umbrella name that covers hundreds of species and hybrids. They are known for their stunning leaves that come in a huge array of colors.

The flowers are shaped like bells and bloom in the spring and summer in different colors including red, white, orange, and pink.

Coral bells, or Heuchera, need full or partial sun, so you should plant them in the first row under the drip line of the crepe myrtle. The mature size average 8 to 18 inches tall and 12 to 24 inches wide.

7. Lungwort 

A lungwort plant blooming with pretty light-blue flowers.

Of the 18 species known as lungwort, only a few do well in gardens. Lungworts are perennials averaging 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide, and some are evergreen in warmer areas.

They can do well in full shade, but they can tolerate partial sun. They bloom in the spring in pink, blue, and white hues. 

8. Creeping Jenny

A creeping Jenny plant as viewed from above.

Creeping Jenny is a low-growing creeper with beautiful foliage. It does well as a ground cover, and it helps keep weeds and other invasive plants at bay under the crepe myrtle.

It doesn’t grow above 4 inches high but spreads 18 inches wide. It blooms in the summer, and the short-lived flowers are yellow.

9. Creeping Phlox

The flowers of purple creeping phlox up close.

This is another excellent ground cover with a fast growth rate. The perennial plant rises 12 inches above the ground and spreads 18 inches wide.

In the spring, fragrant pink, white, and red flowers bloom and stay until the summer. It needs full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

10. Deadnettle 

A deadnettle plant in full bloom.

Some deadnettle species are herbaceous while others are semi-evergreen. Deadnettle is a good ground cover to plant under the crepe myrtle, but be careful as it has invasive tendencies.

It averages 9 inches tall and 24 inches wide and can do well both in full and partial shade. It blooms in the spring and summer with color variations of white, pink, and purple.

11. Impatiens

Assorted impatiens blooming in white, red, and purple.

Impatiens are perennials in tropical areas but are grown as annuals elsewhere. However, their long bloom season from spring to fall makes up for their short life span.

The mature plant averages 6 to 36 inches tall and 1 to 3 feet wide. They thrive in partial to full shade making them ideal companion plants to crepe myrtles. Their blooms come in red, white, pink, yellow, and orange colors.

12. Vinca

Vinca plants covered in cheerful pink flowers.

Like impatiens, vinca plants grow as annuals in most regions except in tropical climates.

They also have blooms with bright colors, but they need full sun. So you’ll need to grow them in the spots that get full sunlight under the tree.

They average 6 to 18 inches tall and wide with flowers that bloom in summer through the fall in red, white, mauve, and pink colors.

13. Pachysandra 

A patch of Japanese spurge or pachysandra in full bloom.

Pachysandra is an evergreen perennial with tolerance to unfavorable growing conditions, and under the crepe myrtle, this hardy plant will find the right conditions to thrive.

In the fall, the foliage turns yellow. It reaches 6 inches tall and 12 inches wide and does well in full to partial shade. The flowers are usually white.

14. Sweet Woodruff 

A patch of sweet woodruff in full bloom.

When you’re looking for a ground cover to add some color under the crepe myrtle and control weeds and other invasive plants, sweet woodruff is a good candidate.

The mat-forming creeper does well in full to partial shade, and it’s deer resistant as well.

It grows 12 inches above the ground and spreads 18 inches wide. The white blooms come out in the spring.

15. Solomon’s Seal

True Solomon's Seal plants with white flowers.

This perennial is a delight to look at. It has lance-shaped leaves and long, slender stems that sway in the wind.

The flowers are white or yellowish-green and open up in the spring. As a shade-loving perennial, it does well deep under the canopy of the crepe myrtle. Choose a small variety that grows around 6 inches tall and 1 foot wide.

16. Bleeding Heart 

Stalks of bleeing heart flowers with multiple blooms.

Bleeding hearts got their name because of the shape of their flowers. They really do look like hearts with a drop of blood hanging at the bottom.

This perennial thrives in partial shade, so it should be planted near the drip line of the crepe myrtle. It averages 1 to 3 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide and has red, white, or pink flowers that open up in the spring.

17. Japanese Painted Fern 

Silvery leaves of a Japanese painted fern.

The main difference between the Japanese painted fern and other fern species is the leaves. The silvery arching leaves give this species an elegant look, but the color patterns that appear to have been painted by paint really set it apart.

It grows to about 18 inches tall and wide and tolerates full to partial shade, but it doesn’t flower. 

18. Lenten Rose

Light-pink flowers on a Lenten rose.

Despite the name, this perennial is a member of the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae). The evergreen hybrid is popular for its ability to bloom early in the spring long before other flowering plants.

The blooms are white, pink, and purple. The mature plant reaches 18 inches tall and wide. It requires partial sun.

19. Columbine

Light-blue Columbine flowers blooming happily.

Columbine flowers resemble a jester’s cap and attract hummingbirds. They bloom in the spring and summer and come in different colors including red, orange, blue, pink, yellow, purple, and violet.

The leaves look similar to clovers and provide visual interest after the flowers fade. Columbine grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide and favors partial sun.

20. Foxglove

A close look at the purple flowers of a foxglove plant.

This biennial plant grows to 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It needs full to partial sun, so you should plant it slightly past the drip line of the crepe myrtle.

The flowers are pink, purple, red, white, or yellow and are highly toxic to humans and pets. 

21. Lantana

Pretty pink and orange flowers of the lantana plant.

Lantana is a perennial shrub with a vigorous growth habit. It grows to 6 feet tall and wide and favors full sun. The flowers bloom in profusion until frost and come in clusters of red, orange, pink, white, yellow, red, and purple. 

22. Sweet Alyssum

Purple sweet alyssum flowers blooming happily.

Sweet alyssum grows like a carpet of tiny flowers that come in white, pink, or purple. This perennial grows 10 inches above the ground and 4 inches wide. It requires full to partial sun and blooms twice in the spring and fall each year.

23. Azaleas

A row of pink azaleas in full bloom in a shady yard.

These shrubs can be either evergreen or deciduous. Both varieties thrive in partial shade and average 3 to 20 feet tall and wide. The blooms are white, red, pink, orange, or yellow and open up in the spring.

Closing Thoughts

The crepe myrtle does well with a wide variety of plants. Some plants will provide an excellent ground cover that also controls weeds while others add color and attract pollinators.

Think about your overall goal when underplanting crepe myrtles, and have fun browsing your options!

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