Crepe Myrtles are beautiful and hardy flowering trees that can be grown almost anywhere in the United States. They’re especially popular in the South, where you’ll see them in front yards, parks, and along sidewalks because they do so well in the Summer heat. I’m frankly obsessed with crepe myrtles and I always stop to photograph them whenever I see one- just ask my husband!
Many people are enamored with lilacs and lilac bushes, and I think Crepe Myrtles are an excellent alternative to lilacs. They’re just as beautiful but they’re long-blooming, unlike lilac shrubs, which only bloom for two weeks in the Spring.
Crepe Myrtles begin to bloom during late Spring (sometimes even early Spring!) and will continue to bloom throughout the Summer and into the Fall.
If you long to grow trees that produce generous clusters of flowers but can also withstand hot Summer days and humidity, then Crepe Myrtle trees are a perfect choice. Tree varieties can grow 15 to 20 feet tall, whereas dwarf varieties can grow 12 to 24 inches tall.
You can find varieties that produce gorgeous white, lilac, or pink flowers. The trees trunks are thin and the bark is beautiful all on its own!
I personally LOVE Crepe Myrtle trees because they grow so well where I live (Southern California). We experience triple-digit Summers and warm Winters here with very little rainfall, and yet these beautiful trees STILL produce such vibrant blooms for months on end.
If you’re interested in growing one or two of these beautiful trees in your yard, these tips are going to help you make sure they thrive.
How to Plant Crepe Myrtle Trees
Crepe Myrtles can be planted in the early Spring or Fall, before the first frost. However, if you purchase a pot that’s already blooming, you can plant it in late Spring or Summer.
When you bring it home from the garden center, give the pot a good watering. You want the root ball to be moist when you plant it. If you plant your crepe myrtle when it is dry, it’ll have a poor chance of survival.
First, you’ll want to make sure you pick the perfect spot for your tree. The spot should get plenty of direct sunlight each day, at least 6 hours. The spot should also be slightly elevated so that the soil drains well and doesn’t collect. You don’t want any water puddles around your tree!
Well-drained soil with a pH level is 5.0 to 6.5 is ideal.
Once you choose your planting spot, dig a hole that is the same depth as the pot the tree came in and twice the diameter.
Gently remove the tree from its pot so that the roots stay intact, and place it into the hole.
Remember this important tip: Do not plant this tree too deeply into the ground. In fact, you want the root ball to be just slightly under the topsoil, even if it’s still visible after planting.
After planting, water the area generously to help establish the roots in their new home. You can help lock in moisture and keep the soil cool by placing mulch around the base of the stem.
After the initial watering, you can water once a week or a few times a week during the Summer. As with most plants, regular watering during those first few weeks will help your Crepe Myrtle get strong and healthy.
Fertilizing your tree can prove beneficial. Do not, however, over-fertilize. In early Spring, try working a high-nitrogen fertilizer into the soil. Repeat again after two months for best results. Fertilizer will help your tree produce full, beautiful blooms.
Here’s the good news: if you plan to grow your Crepe Myrtle as a tree, then you don’t need to do too much pruning! Many people prefer to skip the pruning altogether, preferring the tree’s natural shape. Pruning can, however, help the tree produce better blooms.
Once you see dead flower heads, you can take your pruning shears and deadhead them as you would any other flower.
If you decide to prune, you should do it in late Winter. Pruning before Winter can make your tree susceptible to Winter freeze, which will ruin its chances of flowering. You can also cut off any smaller shoots (aka suckers) that grow from towards the bottom of the trunk.
That’s it as far as the basics of how to grow crepe myrtle trees!