The Crepe Myrtle Bush is commonly found in warmer parts of the world, including the southern parts of the United States, Australia, India, and Indonesia. It’s normal to see this plant in a wide array of locations due to its colorful presentation and aesthetic allure.
The Crepe Myrtle really is a gardener’s dream thanks to its overall presence and how it stands out against other foilage once planted.
Keeping this in mind, it’s important to understand the nuances of planting and then caring for this popular plant.
Basics of The Crepe Myrtle Bush
The Crepe Myrtle is typically grown in USDA Zones 7-9. It can also be found in USDA zones 6 and 10, but with slightly different characteristics, such as a shorter flowering period or a less compact shape.
The Crepe Myrtle can be anywhere from 10-25 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide. This varies depending on the variety, soil type, and other factors. The smaller, more compact, crepe myrtle bush usually only grows to a height of 6-8 feet.
Exposure and light requirements:
Crepe Myrtles prefer full sun or partial shade and you should avoid planting it in areas that have a lot of wind as this can cause damage to the crepe myrtle’s showy blooms.
The crepe myrtle bush needs at least 8 hours of sunlight each day and will bloom best in full sun with plenty of direct light. To achieve optimal growth, it must be planted in an area that gets a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.
The bloom time of the Crepe Myrtle largely depends on its growing zone. Typically, Crepe Myrtle bushes bloom in mid to late summer, with some varieties blooming as early as June and others not blooming until August.
Your crepe myrtle will do best in moist, well-draining soil that is slightly acidic (pH 6.1–6.5). It can also tolerate a wide range of soils from sandy loam to clay, as long as the soil is well-draining. You can amend your crepe myrtle’s soil with organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, to improve drainage, aeration and structure.
The Crepe Myrtle requires moderate to frequent water during the summer. It should be watered deeply and evenly, so that its root system can absorb adequate moisture. To ensure proper irrigation, use a mulching material like wood chips or pine needles around the crepe myrtle bush, as this will help retain the moisture in the soil.
Crepe Myrtles should be fertilized in the spring, once per year. A slow-release fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 blend should be applied at a rate of 1 lb per 100 feet is recommended for crepe myrtle bushes, while a rate of 2-3 lbs per 100 feet is recommended for crepe myrtle trees.
Selecting The Best Crepe Myrtle
Finding the best Crepe Myrtle starts by choosing the best plant for your growing environment. Each plant is going to have a unique set of qualities despite being tagged as a “Crepe Myrtle.” This means it is going to vary in not only color but also size and overall stature. It’s essential to have a good understanding of these intricacies before moving forward with the planting process. Crepe Myrtle trees and bushes come in a variety of colors including dark pink, light pink, white, red, purple, and lavender.
In general, the average Crepe Myrtle bush is going to come in at less than 3 feet tall. However, this does not mean there aren’t larger variants on offer. This type of plant can grow into a 30-foot-tall tree, which might not be reasonable depending on where you want to place it in your garden. Keep this in mind when choosing which variety you want to plant.
Placement of the Plant
Now, it’s time to begin planning the planting process. This will include where the bush will go and how it will be displayed as it blossoms. It is common for these flowering trees to be used in a setup where privacy is desired, but thanks to their showy blossoms, they can also take center stage.
When planting, you will want to focus on the growth pattern of the tree or bush. You want to make sure not only that it will fit right now but also in the future as it begins to spread. This becomes doubly important in places such as entrances where an overgrown bush will become difficult to maintain and will simply get in the way. And if planting a tree, roots can cause a foundation issue if planted too close to the house.
For the most part, it’s recommended to stick with a bush that is going to average around 3-feet tall if you’re planning to plant near an entryway. This size for the bush. is ideal and should fit nicely, with no need to trim it back each year.
When planting, it is also important to think about the amount of sun your Crepe Myrtle is going to get during the day. Both bushes and trees require a good amount of sun and planting them in shady areas will significantly reduce the number of flowers on the plant.
The Best Time To Plant A Crepe Myrtle
The best time to plant your Crepe Myrtle bush at either late fall or early spring. Planting during these times will ensure the plant has enough time to establish itself before the harsh heat of summer sets in.
How to Plant Crepe Myrtles
Soak the Roots
One of the most important steps when it comes to planting a Crepe Myrtle bush is to the watering process. This is done by soaking the roots in a bucket of water for at least 30 minutes before planting. This will provide much-needed moisture to the crepe myrtle’s root system and help it adjust to its new environment.
Digging The Hole
Once the crepe myrtle’s roots have soaked, you can begin digging the hole. You’ll want to dig a hole that is twice as wide and just as deep as the crepe myrtle’s root ball.
When planting, it is best to use soil from your garden that has been amended with compost and other organic matter. This will help increase the health of your crepe myrtle bush so it can live for years to come.
Placing The Plant
It’s important to make sure the plant is centered in the hole. The best way to do this is by taking the pot, putting it in the soil, and then removing it. This will provide a visual guide to make it easier to center the plant in the hole. The plant should be placed only as deep as the pot.
Mulch Around The Plant
Once the tree is planted and the soil is covering the roots, it’s important to spread mulch around the crepe myrtle bush. This will help hold in moisture and protect the root system from any sudden temperature changes.
Watering Your Crepe Myrtle
When it comes to watering crepe myrtles, you want to provide about one inch of water per week during dry periods. During wetter times, you can cut back on the watering and allow Mother Nature to do the work for you. Using a rain gauge can help you know when you need to manually water the plant.
Caring For Your Crepe Myrtle Bush
Crepe Myrtles are pretty hands off plants but there are a few important things to keep in mind when caring for crepe myrtles.
It is a good idea to fertilize crepe myrtles once or twice a year with an organic fertilizer that is recommended for flowering plants. This will help keep the crepe myrtle bush healthy and will keep its flowers blooming throughout the summer months.
When it comes to crepe myrtles, regular pruning is a must. It’s best to start pruning crepe myrtles in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This will help shape the crepe myrtle bush and will keep it from getting too big.
The Crepe Myrtle bush is not prone to many pests and diseases but it can be affected by a few. Some of the most common crepe myrtle pests are aphids, scale insects, and spider mites. The best way to keep these pests at bay is to inspect the crepe myrtle on a regular basis for any signs of infestation and to treat it immediately if any is found.
Carl Witcomb’s Work with Crepe Myrtles
Finally, we can’t talk about crepe myrtles without mentioning the incredible work of Dr. Carl Witcomb. His patented crepe myrtle cultivars are hardy in Zone 6 and even on warmer sites in Zones 4 and 5. His crepe myrtles have been bred to be more resilient to disease and pests, making them a great choice for gardeners who want to enjoy crepe myrtle year after year.
Black Crepe Myrtles
If you’re looking for a plant that really stands out, then you should consider planting a black crepe myrtle. This crepe myrtle variety is one that was developed by Dr Carl Witcomb and is hardy in Zone 6. It also has the ability to thrive on warmer sites that are located in Zones 4 and 5. This crepe myrtle blooms in the summer and has dark purple flowers and leaves that are almost black in color, helping them really pop among green foliage.
If you’re looking for a beautiful addition to your garden, crepe myrtles are an excellent choice. With their lovely blooms and hardy nature, crepe myrtles can be enjoyed year after year with just a few simple maintenance steps that can be done with minimal effort.
Planting the crepe myrtle bush correctly, providing it with enough water and fertilizer, pruning regularly, and inspecting it for pests are all essential steps to ensure your crepe myrtle grows healthy and strong. And if you find yourself in Zones 4-6 and really want to incorporate a crepe myrtle into your garden, try out one of Dr. Carl Witcomb’s patented cultivars.
With these tips in mind, you should have no problem adding this beautiful flowering shrub to your landscape!