October 21st, 2019

With huge clusters of late-season flowers, beautiful bark, and vivid fall color, these small trees or shrubs offer fantastic multi-season interest. And thanks to enhanced disease resistance and excellent cold hardiness, several varieties have been shown to be superior performers in our region, making the Lagerstroemia another flowering gem that has been increasing in appreciation and popularity in the PNW.

CARE

Crape myrtles are often considered to be drought tolerant. But while they can tolerate dry conditions once established, it is important that crape myrtles not become drought stressed. They appreciate consistent moisture as much as consistent heat to maintain steady growth from bud break to flowering. Drought-stressed plants will not bloom or bloom late.

It is best to water them infrequently but deeply. A thick mulch around the base helps to maintain a consistent level of soil moisture. It is especially important for young plants to receive consistent moisture to develop a large root system. Under ideal conditions, they will grow surprisingly fast.

SIZE

Crape myrtles range in size from dwarf selections that grow less than 3 feet tall, to several, that reach around 30 feet. Knowing the mature height of a plant before you buy it, and planting the proper size for the site, will save you much heartache (and backache!) in the future. Be sure to choose the right size for your needs.

The larger types need room to grow without encroaching on buildings, power lines, or walkways. Medium-size selections that will grow from 12 to 15 feet are perfect for a small courtyard or garden. The dwarf selections look great in large containers, foundation plantings, and even incorporated into perennial beds.

SITE

Crape myrtles should be sited in the warmest, brightest locations. They do not like shade and will grow poorly or not flower in a situation that receives less than six hours of sun. They revel in reflected heat from pavement and walls, making them ideal for south-facing aspects, where other trees and shrubs become stressed. Where heat accumulation is highest, as in urban areas, crape myrtles perform at their peak, often flowering earlier than in suburban and rural locations.

Here are just a few of the varieties that we have in stock right now. Selection varies by location.

  • ‘Coral Magic’
  • ‘Lavender’
  • ‘Midnight Magic’
  • “Muskogee’ Tree
  • Pilag III’
  • ‘Twighlight Magic’
  • ‘Whiz Kid’
  • ‘Zuni’
  • ‘Biloxo’
  • ‘Peppermint Lace’
  • ‘Tuscarora’ Tree
  • ‘Red Rocket’
  • ‘Natchez’
  • ‘Tonto’

PRUNING

Crape myrtles flower on wood produced in the current year, so any pruning should be done in early spring. It is best to prune as little as possible. Remove congested wood on the interior of the plant to maintain good air circulation, which helps avoid powdery mildew. Gently shape the remaining branches to enhance their natural character. As trees mature, removing the lower limbs will reveal the striking bark of the trunks. Pruning will encourage new growth but does little to enhance flowering.