How to Grow Crepe Myrtles
Tips for Growing Crepe Myrtles
Crepe Myrtles are well known in the Southern United States, as well as many other countries. Knowing how to grow Crepe Myrtles properly will insure a beautiful display of blossoms during the growing season and a showy fall foliage display. In addition to attractive blossoms and foliage, the Crepe Myrtle has a lot to love offering a unique bark unlike any other. Some gardeners grow Crepe Myrtles strictly for the uniqueness of the bark.
Crape Myrtle Sun Requirements
Crape Myrtles require full sun and should be planted in an area to allow maximum sun exposure daily. Do not plant to close to buildings, awnings, large trees or other structures that may prevent full sun.
Crape Myrtles will thrive in partial shade but they will not flourish as nicely as they would in full sun. Reduced sun will cause decreased blooms and increase the risk of diseases such as powdery mildew.
Crape Myrtle Soil Requirements
Crape Myrtles are very versatile when it comes to soil conditions. Their only requirement is well-draining soil. They will grow well in sandy, loam based soils and thrive well in sandy clay. Crape Myrtles will benefit from nutrient rich potting soil or compost being adding to their roots but it is not required.
Single Trunk Crape Myrtle Grown as a 'Standard'
When to Plant Crape Myrtles
Crape Myrtles that are currently growing in pots transplant very well in the spring. They can be planted during the summer if watered daily for the first two weeks and during summer droughts to allow the roots to take hold and avoid shock. Actively growing Crape Myrtles can be planted in the fall if protected during the winter.
Bareroot and burlap wrapped Crape Myrtles should be planted during the winter when they are dormant. Mulch well to protect tender roots.
Multi Trunk Crape Myrtle Grown in it's Natural Shape
Fertilizing Crape Myrtles
Crape Myrtles will benefit from a balanced, general purpose liquid fertilizer. Basic Miracle Gro fertilizer will do the job just fine. You can also add 1lb of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet to encourage new growth in early spring. Do not over apply fertilizer. Doing so will can severe burns which can injure or kill Crape Myrtles.
Purple Crape Myrtles Available Online
How to Prune Crape Myrtles
There is a lot of controversy over pruning Crape Myrtles. The one thing that is agreed upon is that Crape Myrtles should be pruned in very late winter or early spring to insure flowering since they bloom on new growth, which is stimulated by pruning. Waiting till spring will allow you to see any dead or damaged branches that will need to be cut out.
Crape Myrtles should be pruned according to their structure. Do you want to grow them into a shrub, multi-trunked tree or a 'standard', single trunk tree? A multi-trunked tree is the most common and the most natural growing on 2 to 5 trunks.
To avoid any misunderstandings and to provide excellent professional advice and photos I will allow the Grumpy Gardener with Southern Living to go more into detail on the proper way to prune Crape Myrtles to insure a beautiful plant with plenty of blossoms. You can visit the Grumpy Gardener at Southern Living: Crape Myrtle Pruning Step-by Step.
Crape Myrtle Diseases and Pests
Crape Myrtles, for the most part, are fairly disease resistant. Their resistance depends on the variety and maturity of the Crape Myrtle. The most commonly reported disease is powdery mildew which is actually a fungi. Powdery mildew is easily treated with a fungicide and can be prevented by planting in full sun and pruning to allow plenty of air flow.
Other diseases include sooty mold, tip blight, leaf spot and root rot in wet conditions.
The only pests known to frequent Crape Myrtles are Aphids and the Florida Wax Beetle. Both can be controlled by insecticides.
* The picture to the right shows a Crape Myrtle stem with a light case of powdery mildew.
How to Propagate Crape Myrtles
Growing Crape Myrtles from Cuttings and Seed
Crape Myrtles can be propagated by either seeds or cuttings. If you desire a plant identical to the one you are growing now, then you will need to propagate by cuttings. Grown from seeds, you plant will not be a true match to the parent due to the majority of Crape Myrtles being hybridized, unless you can find a native species. If you have other Crape Myrtles close by, chances are they may hybridize as well and there is no telling what you will get.
To learn how to grow propagate by cuttings visit How to Grow Crape Myrtles from Cuttings for a complete tutorial.
Seeds will need to be stratified in a refrigerator for 4 to 6 weeks or planted outside in containers or a bed in the fall or early winter. Crape Myrtles have to be stratified to break dormancy or they will not germinate.