What is Crepe Myrtle?
Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) is a deciduous, vase-shaped tree. They are part of the Lythraceae family and are native to eastern Asia. There are many different types of hybrids which range in sizes and, foliage and flower colours. Crepe Myrtle are deciduous upright trees that usually have dark green foliage which appears at the start of Spring. Other foliage colours can be mid to light green or bronze green. Most varieties have foliage that changes colour during Autumn, with the leaves turning yellow, orange or red (depending on the variety) before falling. Clusters of flowers appear during late Summer which come in a range of colours which include white, pink, red, mauve or purple. The petals are ruffled, with a crepe or paper like texture. Another feature of Crepe Myrtles is their outstanding smooth mottled trunk. They require a full sun position in the garden that has well drained soils. There is an Australian native Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia archeriana), which grows to around 7m tall and has pinkish mauve flowers. Another interesting variety of Crepe Myrtle is the Diamonds in the Dark series. The foliage is dark burgundy and come in a range of colour flowers such as white, red, pink and purple. This tree/shrub is more compact than the other varieties and are best suited to a full sun position in the garden.
Benefits of Growing Crepe Myrtle
Crepe Myrtles are a great small tree for smaller gardens. They come in a range of colours and sizes. They make an excellent specimen tree which can be grown both in the garden or in a large pot. They can be grown as a hedge to line your front yard or used as a border, along a fence line or as a street plant. Crepe Myrtles are bee and bird attracting.
How to Grow Crepe Myrtle
Cool to mild tropical.
Crepe Myrtles come in dwarf, medium and tall varieties.
Dwarf Height: 60-75cm, Width: 70cm-1.2m
Medium Height: 3-5m, Width: 3-5m
Tall Height: 8m, Width: 5m
Diamonds In The Dark Height: 2-3m, Width: 1.5-2.5m
When To Plant Crepe Myrtle
Crepe Myrtles prefer a free draining soil but will tolerate a wide range of soils.
How To Plant Crepe Myrtle
Plant in full sun, with the plant crown at soil level. Dig the planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball.
Crepe Myrtle Plant Care
Water in well and keep soil moist until tree is established. Keep well watered through Summer.
Mulch to prevent weeds or grass growing under the tree, and to retain moisture in the soil.
Fertilise when new growth appears with a slow release fertiliser in Spring.
Prune tree when planting to encourage new growth. Prune to maintain shape.
Crepe myrtles can be heavily pruned in Winter to encourage the development of long, arching branches of flowers. However, the downside of this annual pruning is that it creates an ugly, butchered looking plant. Left unpruned, crepe myrtles develop a naturally appealing shape and will flower well regardless.
While growing remove low growth to develop a smooth, attractive trunk.
Powdery mildew is one of the main problems however most of the new hybrids are more resistant. If your plant has powdery mildew one possible way of fixing the problem could be to move the plant into a full sun position first or remove effected branch if possible.