Great Design Plant: Crape Myrtle

One of my favorite things about living in the American South is that crape myrtles grow. This exceptional tree has year-round interest, with its sculptural shape, several stems, long-lasting flowers and gorgeous exfoliating bark. In Atlanta, our crape myrtle population is extremely high, since the city went mad and implanted 1,000 of them across the roads in preparation for the 1996 Olympics. Get to know this deciduous tree better and see whether it’s a fantastic choice for you.

Cathy Carr

Botanical name: Lagerstroemia indica
Common names: Frequent crape myrtle, crepe myrtle
USDA zones: 6 to 9 (find your zone). If you are in the end of the spectrum (around or over the Mason-Dixon line), then you’re going to want to find a warm, secure microclimate for it.
Water requirement: Needs moist, well-drained soil but can tolerate drier conditions when It’s based
Light requirement: Total sun
Mature size: 15 to 40 feet high and6 into 15 feet wide
Benefits and tolerances: Can tolerate dry soils and clay
Seasonal interest: Summer and fall flowers; exfoliating bark; beautiful silhouette in winter
When to plant: Either after the last frost or at least four months before the first frost


Distinguishing traits. Crape myrtle’s flowers are 8-inch panicles that blossom during most of summer and well into fall. The flowers vary in color from variety, with shades of pink, purple, white and red. Pruning off blossom heads can encourage another round of blossoms. When the plant fruits, it’s brownish-blackish berries.

The tree is multistemmed and sculptural. Before crape myrtle leafs out in the spring, its compact branching patterns and overall vase form are sights to behold.

Scott Brinitzer Design Associates

The peeling bark is a beautiful blend of light and medium browns; it will roll up because it peels, which adds a exceptional feel to the garden.

How to use it. Two lines of crape myrtles form a striking allée. This is a fantastic way to create a spectacular path or entrance sequence.

Shannon Malone

Crape myrtle is a fantastic ornamental tree to use anywhere in your lawn. Be certain to allow enough room for its spread when planting it next to your house, sidewalk or driveway.

It is a fantastic choice next to a patio (see first picture). Its kind adds sculpture, its flowers add color and its leaves provide dappled shade.

Laura Trevey

Planting notes. Since we have been cultivating these trees from the States for over 200 years, there are many varieties with different heights, contours, hardiness ranges and flower colors. Check with your regional nursery to see what’s available in your town, then check the tag to learn what its mature size will be and pick a place for it so.
Dig a hole that’s approximately 3 times the diameter of the root ball and as deep as the root ball is high.Shake the root ball and then loosen the roots which are all smushed together.Place the tree in the hole and then fill in with dirt, packing it into firmly.Tamp down the soil and thoroughly water. You will want to water it every day for the first month.

Pruning note. Many people clinic “crape murder” That is when they prune the tree down to just a few feet from the floor, transforming it into a thick shrub. As for me, I hate to see that the excellent and distinctive all-natural kind of the crape myrtle mutilated like that, but to each his or her own.

I wished to share with you the largest crape myrtle I’ve ever seen. It is at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, and the person next to it is 6 feet, 4 inches tall.

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