Crape myrtle in winter

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, is an ideal landscape shrub or tree for the high desert. It is used extensively in Sierra Vista as a street-side tree, in commercial landscape applications, and private residences as well. Fine examples of crape myrtle have been placed between buildings at the Cochise College campus in Sierra Vista. The trees have grown and flourished in tree wells which are surrounded by concrete paths, withstanding winds and the passerby handling their limbs as they grew. It has become a local favorite for its long-lasting blossom period and for its quick adaptability to new environments.

Varieties can be purchased for shrub or hedge development, and the plants can be trained with a single stem forming a charming tree. The bark is mottled, smooth-looking with varying shades of brown. The trees have clusters of white, pink, or lavender blossoms that bloom through summer and into the fall. The tree or shrub will be covered with color.

The recommended procedure for transplanting crape myrtle is to place the plant in a prepared hole which is deep enough to accommodate the roots and wide enough – plenty wide – to allow for lateral growth. Crape myrtle can take full sun but will also grow successfully in shady areas. It blossoms during the hottest time of the year, so give it regular moisture, preferably by means of a drip system for metered, even water flow. It is subject to mildew, but this is seldom a problem in our dry climate.

Crape myrtle is chosen by the gardener for the lack of maintenance it requires. It is deciduous and will grow at a fairly good rate. A pruning and shaping of the plant when it is dormant may be necessary to increase blossoms for next year. This plant will not stress out during hot spells or in high winds. It can be used in formal landscapes or casual settings, depending on placement in the landscape scheme, plant shape desired, and the variety chosen.

September Reminders:

* Keep watering!

* You can always plant something (try cool season veggies – see September 1993 newsletter)

* Start shopping for bulbs (Bulbs For Southern Arizona bulletin is available in the Cooperative Extension Offices)

Other bush/tree flowering deciduous plants which grow well in the high desert are:

* Pomegranate (Punica granatum) Brilliant red flowers become juicy fruit which can be dried to a reddish purple, leaves small, waxy green, forming dense cover for wild life.

* Mock orange (Pittosporum) Beautifully fragrant white blossoms on a very bushy plant.

* Texas ranger (Leucophyllum frutescens) Gray foliage with small pink-purple blossoms. Bushy appearance can be pruned for a more sculptured appearance. Adapts well.

* Blue plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) Full bushy plant which has blue flowers. Is not frost tolerant.

* Coralbean (Erythrina flabelliformi) More of a specimen plant with red blossoms and large leaves which drop, exposing a white limbed skeleton. Bright red large seeds in long, dangling pods. Poisonous.

* Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) Small dark green waxy leaves with bright yellow blossoms on multiple spindly stems. Strong odor after a rain.

* Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) Beautiful red barked limbs with bushy green foliage and tiny white to pink blossoms. Does not transplant easily and requires an acid soil. Evergreen.

Growing Crepe Mrytle in Arizona

Hi Nilesh.

Thank you for your great question.

When planting a Crape Myrtle, it is important that you followed a specified regimen to ensure that your new tree would be able to grow to its full potential. A mature Crepe Myrtle “tree” can grow to be 30 feet tall in the right conditions. There are also Crape Myrtle shrubs that are much smaller. Which variety of Crape Myrtle do you have?

Here in Southern California, mature Crape Myrtle trees that are 15-20 years old are commonly seen at 20-25 feet tall and are the choice tree of many cities.

Although this tree does best in warm and humid climates, regular care will allow this beautiful and flowery tree to produce a spectacular array of pink, red, purple or white flowers depending on your variety, all thru the summer months. This tree is deciduous, which means that it will lose is flowers and leaves in the fall once the ground temperature falls below 50 degrees F.

This type of tree grows best in a loose and well-drained soil. To maximize your trees performance, you will need to provide regular watering in the hot summer months and fertilize it with a 5-10-5 granular fertilizer or its equivalent between February and March. Be sure that the water and fertilizer are applied at the Drip Line of your tree. Once your tree goes dormant for the winter months, little or no watering should be necessary.

Keep in mind that not all varieties of Crape Myrtle will grow to its maximum height of 30 feet. Some of the Crape Myrtle shrubs are only 3 feet tall. Regular maintenance of your Crape Myrtle will also help its shape and performance.

Crape Myrtles will bloom on the current season’s growth, so they can be pruned in the spring and will still flower normally throughout the summer. In the spring, do some minor pruning and remove the interior twiggy branches to improve air circulation. Be sure to remove the suckers that want to grow from the base of the plant as well since they will take energy from your flowering tree.

Mulching around the drip line of your tree will also aid in moisture retention during the hot summer months. The Crape Myrtle does well in the summer heat providing that it receives sufficient irrigation and fertilization if it is in a poor soil.

Please let us know if we can be of further assistance. Be sure to take some pictures of your tree and let us know how it is progressing.


The best flowering trees for your Phoenix home this spring

Crape Myrtle features large delicate clusters of red, white, purple and pink flowers. Moon Valley Nurseries The Crape Myrtle will nearly bloom all summer long. Moon Valley Nurseries The Jacaranda has magnificent bell-shaped purple blossoms. Moon Valley Nurseries Magnolias add white flowers and fragrant blooms to your landscape. Moon Valley Nurseries The Museum Palo Verde, a native/hybrid desert species, displays vibrant yellow flowers against bright green, thornless trunks. Moon Valley Nurseries The Museum Palo Verde and the Jacarandas blossom March through June. Moon Valley Nurseries The Purple Leaf Plum, with its vibrant purple leaves and pink blooms, is noted as one of the first flowering trees of spring. Moon Valley Nurseries

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Flowering trees are one of the best signs that spring is here, and, fortunately for homeowners in the Phoenix area, our climate allows us to plant a wide range of flowering trees from all over the United States that produce magnificent blooms of purple, red, white, yellow and red flowers.

When you’re out looking for a flowering tree to brighten up a dull spot in your landscape, visit the nursery professionals at Moon Valley Nurseries. They have been turning landscape dreams into realities for Phoenix homeowners for more than 20 years and they have thousands of flowering trees that have many landscape applications.

Some flowering trees are ideal for hummingbirds and butterflies, some provide great shade, others can be used as a focal point and a handful produce homegrown food. The nursery pros at Moon Valley Nursery have an option for any landscape, and if a certain color is a must, they’ll have that, too.

Trees to consider

Among their recommended trees: the Jacaranda, with its magnificent bell-shaped purple blossoms; the Purple Leaf Plum, noted for the vibrant purple leaves, pink blooms and as one of the first flowering trees of spring; Crape Myrtle, featuring large delicate clusters of red, white, purple and pink flowers; Magnolia, adding white flowers and fragrant blooms to your landscape; Bottlebrush with its weeping look and vibrant red flowers; and the Museum Palo Verde, a native/hybrid desert species, displaying vibrant yellow flowers against bright green, thornless trunks.

“All of these trees flower at different times throughout the spring season,” said Paul Popoff, who is certified from the Arizona Landscape and Contractors Association and is an Arizona Certified Nursery Professional (ACNP) for Phoenix-based Moon Valley Nurseries, with eight locations Valleywide.

“The Purple Plum, for instance, blooms in February and March. The Museum Palo Verde and the Jacarandas blossom March through June. The Crape Myrtle and Magnolia are two trees that will nearly bloom all summer long. Some of these trees will also provide amazing color in the fall.”

After you have identified which color would be best for your yard, other points to consider are the requirements each tree has such as pruning, watering and fertilizing. Because Moon Valley Nurseries grows everything at its thousand-acre farms, the company can provide a wide variety of options. If you’re bad at watering, that’s okay. Moon Valley Nurseries has low-water-use trees. Don’t like pruning? That’s okay, too. There are options for minimal maintenance.

If you’re looking for a tree that would be considered xeriscape, or low-water use, the Museum Palo Verde would be the best option. Once these trees are established with regular watering for the first year or so, they become drought tolerant and they still produce an amazing display of yellow flowers in the spring and throughout the summer.

Another tree with minimal maintenance is the evergreen and drought-tolerant Oleander, which produces red, white and pink blooms. Or take a look at a Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Orange or Tangerine tree. Not only will you get homegrown food, but you’ll also get great shade (yes, there are thousands of citrus in Phoenix that provide amazing shade) and minimal maintenance.

Moon Valley Nurseries has it all

One item to consider, though, is the individual requirements each of these trees have for water. All newly planted trees do require regular early-life watering, and they should be on different watering schedules. “Last thing you want is a citrus tree and a cactus on the same watering schedule. The nursery pros at Moon Valley Nurseries can assist and provide instruction on your landscape,” Popoff said.

“In the desert Southwest, an irrigation system is recommended to make your life easier and to ensure you are always deep-watering your trees,” he added, noting that Moon Valley Nurseries has an expert Hardscape Division that can install one at your home or business to significantly lower your maintenance.

Of course, it is always best to plan and incorporate such a system before making major changes in your landscaping. In this way, the different water needs of trees and shrubs can be considered.

If you’re looking to really maximize the spring blooms, regular fertilizing, as with any tree in the desert Southwest, is recommended; Moon Valley Nurseries carries only custom-blended fertilizers that have essential macro- and micro-nutrients that every tree needs.

“Even though our climate allows for planting of a wide range of trees, our native soil is alkaline, which prevents minor nutrients from converting into compounds,” Popoff said. “At Moon Valley Nurseries, we have solutions to these problems. Our Soil & Water Conditioner helps break down hard, compact soil and high pH found in our soil and water.”

“Weather during the spring season is amazing. If you’ve lived out here long enough, you know this. However, there are days that can approach triple digits, and providing a layer of mulch is like icing on the cake,” he said. Encircling trees at ground level with mulch helps keep moisture in and the root-threatening hot sun out, and Moon Valley Nurseries offers a premium mulch made from all-organic compost.

Moon Valley Nurseries does it all, too

Before choosing any flowering tree, you should also consider the mature size of the tree and the planting location. Is this a tall or medium-sized tree at maturity? What is its spread or canopy?

“Picking the perfect tree for the perfect area is what the experts at Moon Valley Nurseries are trained to do,” Popoff said. “These trees all grow differently, and it is important to have the experts help you choose the best one for your yard.”

The best solution is to have Moon Valley Nurseries, which grows the trees from seedlings, plant them as well. In fact, that was one of the innovations that founder and owner Les Blake established for the family business 20 years ago. Back then, people would ask him about having trees planted because it was rare for a nursery to offer convenient package pricing, including the tree, tree planting and a warranty.

“It’ always best to have the experts do it. For a limited time, all Moon Valley Nurseries are planting box-size trees at no extra charge, including a Moon Valley Guarantee. We are the only company that grows, plants, delivers and guarantees everything we plant,” Popoff said. “We do it all in house, and we do it right.”

For more information, see or call anytime with questions, 602-938-MOON (6666) or 602-437-5529.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.

Crepe myrtle is an amazing ornamental summer-blooming shrub.

Key Crepe myrtle facts

Name – Lagerstroemia indica
Family – Lythraceae
Type – tree or shrub
Height – 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – rich enough
Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – May to October

Planting, pruning and caring for it contributes to the beautiful blooming of crepe myrtle.

Planting crepe myrtle

Planting indica crepe myrtle in fall is recommended to encourage root formation, but you can still plant over the winter until spring, even though you must absolutely avoid any period of freezing.

In colder areas, planting in spring is best, whereas in other areas fall is fine, after leaves have fallen off.

  • Choose a place sheltered from stronger winds and more than anything bathed with sun.
  • Refer to our guidelines on planting shrubs.

Growing indica crepe myrtle in pots is perfectly possible, especially where winters are harsh, so that you can bring them in and protect them in winter.

Potted indica crepe myrtle

  1. Choose a good-sized pot to avoid having to repot too soon.
  2. Verify that the bottom of the pot has a hole in it.
  3. Along the bottom of the pot, spread a drainage layer of clay pebbles or gravel about an inch (a couple centimeters) thick.
  4. Use flower shrub or rose tree soil mix.
  5. Water when the surface of the soil has dried up.

Propagating crepe myrtle

There are 2 ways of multiplying your crepe myrtle, cuttings and and sowing from seed.

Preparing indica crepe myrtle cutting

At the end of summer, preparing cuttings from indica crepe myrtle yields very good results.

  1. Choose sprigs that are about 6 inches (15 cm) long, partly hardened and not bearing any flowers.
  2. Remove leaves from the bottom and keep only one or two pairs at the tip of the sprig.
  3. Slice the base open on ¼th inch (½ cm) with a very sharp and clean blade.
  4. Dip the cuttings in powdered rooting agents.
  5. Plant the cutting in special cutting soil mix (or a blend of peat and river sand).
  6. Cover your cuttings with clear plastic to ensure proper moisture levels.
  7. Place your cuttings near light, but not in direct sunlight, at the right temperature, at least 70°F (20°C).
  8. Keep the substrate a little moist.
  9. In winter, move the cutting to a slightly cooler spot, ideally around 50°F (10°C).

Don’t rush to plant to the ground, since the best planting season is fall, a whole year after having started to prepare the cuttings.

Sowing indica crepe myrtle

Sowing lagerstroemia is said to be quite easy if you can find seeds, and is best done in spring or fall (avoid sowing in summer).

  • Sowing is possible in a sheltered place from 60°F (15°C) to 70°F (20°C).
  • Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for 24 hours.
  • Sow in special cutting soil mix without burying the seed too much (at most ½ inch (1 cm)).
  • Place your seedling near light, but not in direct sunlight, and maintain adequate temperature, minimum 70°F (20°C).
  • Keep the substrate a little moist.
  • Germination is usually 4 to 6 weeks after sowing.

Pruning and caring for indica crepe myrtle

How to trim indica crepe myrtle

Pruning is at the end of winter, preferably during the month of March, either a bit earlier or a bit later. It is good to wait for a warm spell to prune your tree.

  • Cut the previous year’s branches short to increase the following year’s blooming.
  • Remove branches that cross over each other, keeping those facing outwards and removing those pointing back into the shrub.

Prune branches that have grown in the previous year, leaving only an inch (a couple centimeters) or so, checking that you’re leaving an eye facing outwards from the shrub.

  • This helps keep a nice silhouette and a balanced shape.

Caring for indica crepe myrtle

If properly settled in, indica crepe myrtle requires very little care.

  • Remember to water regularly over the 1st year after planting.
  • Mulch in summer helps retain sufficiently high moisture levels in the ground and helps avoid needing to water too often.
  • Adding slow-release flower shrub fertilizer in spring will help enhance blooming.

Indica crepe myrtle in winter

Indica crepe myrtle is very well suited to our temperate climates that occasionally witness rather harsh winters, since they resist to temperatures below freezing, down to about 5°F (-15°C).

For added security, you can spread a layer of dried leaf mulch around the foot of your indica crepe myrtle in winter.

Learn more about crepe myrtle

A small ornamental tree with abundant and plentiful blooming, indica crepe myrtle is remarkable all summer long thanks to its magnificent brightly-colored panicles.

Native to Asia, like lilac actually, it was imported to Europe by a family of horticulturists living in the French city of Bergerac, and then spread to Perigord, Dordogne, Lot and all the other regions of France.

Its natural state is to grow several clumped trunks and looks decidedly shrub-like, but it is most often trimmed for sale on a single stem.

In fall, this deciduous tree unveils surprising red, yellow and orange leafage.

In winter, once leaves are on the ground, the trunk appears with its beautiful pinkish gray colors.

In areas with mild climates, it often happens that indica crepe myrtle keeps its leaves.

Smart tip about crepe myrtle

During the high summer temperatures, water preferably in the evening but not too much.

Read also:

  • Advice on how to prune shrubs.
  • Ideas of flowered shrubs for a hedge
  • Hedges, great barriers against diseases
  • Shrubs that flower in the summer.

Container Gardening

The entrance of many homes is a brick or concrete walkway or possibly a porch. Often an accent plant or group of plants would be desirable at the entrance to greet visitors. A pair of (1) evergreen camellias on either side of the door will provide such a warm, friendly greeting, or an (2) everblooming gardenia is a favorite choice near a door where its delicious fragrance meets callers. On the back patio, covered with concrete, there may be a need for a plant in a corner where the building forms an ‘L’. Perhaps a (3) Japanese maple, (4) princess flower or (5) Pieris will fill that corner. If the large patio has a barren look, several carefully placed geraniums, hibiscus, lantana or citrus will give some color and excitement to the area. Just remember, when you decorate a large area, group your plants in threes or fours and don’t lay them out along the border in a neat line, five to ten feet apart. Each of these situations (porch, patio, and corners) can only be solved by using plants growing in containers. Container gardening is for everyone. It is especially suitable for apartment or condominium residents with only a balcony or small patio for their gardening needs.

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When you have decided that container grown plants will solve your needs, the first step will be to choose a container. There are many shapes but the material can be terra cotta, plastic, wood, Euracast, glazed ceramic or paper mache. Each has some positive and negative characteristics.


  • Terra Cotta: Heavy, attractive, and moderately priced. Pot will break if you drop it.
  • Porous Plastic: Lightweight, doesn’t break easily and is inexpensive. Looks like plastic although the newer varieties can be very attractive, not porous and holds water
  • Wood: Attractive, same as terra cotta, but wood rots.
  • Glazed Ceramic: Same as terra cotta but not porous, many colors, shapes and expensive.
  • SMART POT: Something new, woven plastic fiber, light weight, porous, drains quickly, awkward to fill, may tear or snag, moderate price.
  • Paper Mache: Don’t bother.

Color and texture will be your choice. Tall plants should have a heavy pot, otherwise plants grow equally well in all pots. A tray under your pot is not a requirement except that if you water plants on the third floor balcony, the tray will prevent the neighbors on the second floor from becoming upset if they get wet.

A good quality potting soil such as Gardner & Bloome® Organic Potting Soil is an absolute requirement for successful container gardening. A good quality potting soil must have a minimum of six different ingredients; Gardner & Bloome® Organic Potting Soil contains nine. Many ‘house brands’ sold by discount or hardware stores and labeled as potting soil are inferior products which should be avoided. Under no circumstances should you use garden soil or homemade compost. Neither of these will provide proper drainage or aeration and there is the danger of introducing disease or insect pests into your container.

Frequently, gardeners will ask about putting gravel or screen in the bottom of the container under the soil. The plant

will better off without it because the screen can obstruct drainage and the gravel becomes another inch or two of sterile potting mix into which the roots grow and find no nutrients. A good potting mix such as Gardner & Bloome® Organic Potting Soil provides adequate drainage and excellent anchorage for the plant(s). A satisfactory cover for the drainage hole in the bottom of the container is a piece of broken terra cotta flower pot with the concave side facing down over the hole. Keep a saucer under the container with half an inch to an inch of water in it. The soil in the pot will wick up the water as needed and not drown the plants roots.

When you select plants for your containers, know if their location will be sunny, part sun, shady or deep shade. Remember rule number 12: No sun, no flowers. Select plants suitable for their environment.

Containerized plants often have to be watered more frequently than the same plants growing in garden soil. Small pots, dry out more quickly than larger pots, as do terra cotta pots when compared to plastic pots. The larger the plant, the more quickly it uses up the water in its container.

During hot weather, it would not be unusual to water containerized plants every day or every other day. Mixing hydrogel into your potting mix won’t diminish the amount of water used but it will extend the time between watering. When watering the containers, always water until it runs out the bottom of the container. If you have saucers under the containers, leave about one-half inch of water in the saucer for the pot to wick up.

Eventually, your plant(s) will outgrow their pots. The first symptoms are that the tops are not as lush as they have been and roots start creeping out of the drainage hole. You have several alternatives: throw the plant away, transplant it into the garden, pot it up into a larger container, or repot it in the same container. To repot in the same container carefully knock the plant out of the pot. The root ball should remain as a solid unit. Place the root ball on a firm surface and with a large knife or a pair of pruning shears, cut an inch or two off the entire circumference of the root ball from top to bottom. Next cut an inch or two off the bottom of the root ball. . Finally, trim the foliage on the top of the plant. Remove between one-quarter and one-third of the crown as if you were severely pruning the tops but in a neat and orderly fashion so that the plant’s symmetry is not destroyed. Replant it in the same pot which has been carefully scrubbed. Use fresh Gardner & Bloome® Organic Potting Soil. Press the soil firmly in place – do not pound down, water thoroughly and place in a semi-shady location until you see new growth and then move to its normal location. Do not fertilize the container for the next month.

Containerized plants grow in a space much smaller than normal. When growing in the garden, plants need to be fertilized about once or twice a year. The same plants growing in a container will use up all the nutrients in a good potting soil within two or three months. Consequently, evergreen plants need to be fertilized every month after the third month in the container. Deciduous plants are fertilized every month Valentine’s Day to Halloween. Pelletized fertilizers such as Master Nursery® Formula 49™ are preferred to those which you dissolve in water. To determine how much pelletized fertilizer to use; measure the diameter of the container and divide by six. Use that number of level tablespoons of fertilizer per the container. Use a fertilizer suitable for the containerized plant; e.g.: Master Nursery® Citrus Food for lemons and limes, Master Nursery® Rose and Flower Food for roses and flowers and so on. We stress using the Master Nursery brand because it contains sulfur and iron to compensate for our alkaline water.

You can plant almost anything in a container that you might normally plant in the ground. Common sense prevails. A crape myrtle would be a better choice than a Redwood tree for a containerized tree. A single plant in a container is a better choice than a mixture of plants because the plants in a mixture will have different growth requirements and different life expectancies. When you want variety and color next to your two next-to-the-door camellias during the summer, place three, six-inch pots of New Guinea impatiens at the base of each camellia pot.

When arranging your containerized plants, regular garden rules prevail: tall in the back, short in the front. Use at least half a dozen annuals if you are going to use any and place them in the front. Sun loving plants in front, shade lovers further back. Bulbs should be overplanted with annuals and can be placed in a single group or mixed with the permanent plants.

Vegetables in containers are possible. In a constricted space (apartments, etc.) herbs are your best choice. They can survive in a one or two gallon container. A dwarf tomato needs a five or fifteen gallon container. Vegetables grow best in full sun so in the garden or patio allow tomatoes, peas, beans, lettuce and other vegetables to grow in at least 15 gallon sized containers in open areas. Vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli can be grown in containers but it is hardly worth it, because only one plant will fit in a 15 gallon pot.

Containerized plants are as likely as garden grown plants to be beset by insects and diseases. The treatments used for garden plants can be applied to plants in containers. Many fungicides and insecticides are available in ready- to- use spray bottles. Some have very low or no toxicity to humans and their pets.

So the answer is, “Yes, you can!” when asked can I grow plants on my balcony or is there any way to grow a tall plant next to the doorway of our home. Just remember that your containerized plants will usually be a bit smaller than those grown in open ground but they will be just as handsome and smell just as sweet. And they are portable!

Size Up Your Crepe Myrtles

These resilient flowering trees are a no-brainer in the South. They love a full sun environment and thrive in the upper, middle, lower, and coastal South planting zones. Their flowers come in a variety of shades including pink, purple, red, and white. You can expect your Crepe Myrtle to put on a show of color during the summer months. Rob Cardillo

Nothing says summer in the South like crepe myrtles. They grow so easily and bloom so long that we love them like family members—except in late winter and spring, when they are routinely chopped down to thick, ugly stumps (a crime known as “crepe murder”).

A big reason people do this is because they’ll buy a crepe myrtle only for its color without checking how big their plant will get. So when it inevitably blocks the upstairs windows just a few years after planting, out comes Angry Homeowner wielding the pruning saw.

Let’s put a stop to this terrible practice now by choosing crepe myrtles by color and size. Check out the box below for some of our top picks.

Because the average August temperature in the South falls just short of that on the surface of Mercury, you may wonder if it’s a good idea to buy a crepe myrtle now. It is for two reasons: First, this is the month a lot of garden centers put plants on sale, so you’ll probably land a bargain; second, if you buy it in a container, you can either plant it in the yard now or leave it in the original pot and plant it in fall when the weather is cooler.

Whether you plant it or leave it in the pot, regular watering will be the key to survival. When it’s 95 degrees out, all it takes is one day of the roots drying out and it’s sayonara to your crepe myrtle. Make sure the roots stay moist as long as it’s warm. Next year, your plant will need much less water.

Lipan Crape Myrtle

Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Lipan’

  • Displays large clusters of purple-pink flowers
  • Bronze-like foliage in spring, dark-green in summer, and orange-red color in fall
  • Attractive bark
  • Long-lasting blooms!
  • A small deciduous shade tree

Basic Facts

The ‘Lipan’ Crape Myrtle (botanical name: Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Lipan’) is a beautiful small-to-medium size plant that grows vibrant purple-pink flowers and is most mildew-resistant It is native to many regions of Asia and brought to North America in the 18th century.

This Crape Myrtle produces most of its flowers from summer through fall. It grows upright and starts to spread out as it matures. This deciduous plant grows dark green foliage that turns the perfect autumn red and orange through the fall. The ‘Lipan’ variety can grow between 8-15 feet tall and up to 10 feet wide.

Tree Care

The ‘Lipan’ Crape Myrtle performs well in multiple regions and hardiness zones due to its tolerance to drought, humidity, and heat. This trait makes them great flowering options for the Southwestern states. It can even handle poor soil but prefers a balanced pH level.

The ‘Lipan’ loves full sun exposure and is easy to grow in well-drained soils. Once established, it develops a higher tolerance for drought and can handle fewer watering sessions. Always water deeply to ensure optimum root structure. To help retain moisture, we recommend using mulch around the tree.

Landscape Uses

This Crape Myrtle can be used in different ways such as a focal point in your lawn, adding color to bland areas of your landscape, or creating summer shade for your home or patio space.

When the flowers bloom, you will even see butterflies and other nectar/pollen gatherers throughout your yard. For a unique and colorful hedge, plant the ‘Lipan’ Crape Myrtle in rows along borderlines.

Moon Valley Nurseries Design Consultation

With our free professional landscape design consultation, it is easy to create the perfect landscape. From design to delivery and planting, we do it all.

Visit your nearest nursery location and select the perfect Lipan Crape Myrtle for your yard today. For the best trees on Earth, go straight to the Moon!

Choosing the Right Crape Myrtle for You

Summer time is ushered in by a myriad of things – a long awaited school break, the taste of just-cut watermelon on the front porch, the sound of waves rolling onto the shore, and – for me – the colorful parade of crape myrtles blooming. Nothing looks quite like summer in the South than the bloom explosion of crape myrtles. These trees and shrubs line fences, frame buildings, dot yards, and everywhere they are they bring large bursts of red, pink, purple, and white flowers. Not only do crape myrtles usher in summer for me, but they always seem to do so with humble grace, and I think that’s what I like so much about them.

Perhaps you love crape myrtles as much as I do, and perhaps like me, you spend a lot of time admiring these trees in other people’s yards and occasionally you think, “Hum, wouldn’t it be nice to have my OWN crape myrtle. You know, one that’s in MY yard and that I can admire all that I want, whenever I want.”

Ok, so let’s say you’ve made the jump and you’re on board to plant your very own crape myrtle.

Except now that you think of it, there are quite a lot of crape myrtle varieties each with their own unique qualities. That deep red-flowered one looks so nice in your neighbor’s yard and so do those ones with the white bark that line the streets downtown. And then there are those crape myrtles down the road that seem to be blooming all summer long. So many choices! Exactly how do you decide which crape myrtle is right for you?

I like charts so that I can see a lot of information all at once, and Plant Me Green has conveniently made a crape myrtle guide that outlines the characteristics of our varieties and should help you find your perfect match. But what exactly should you look for in our guide?

Like any other plant purchasing decision, the first thing to do in choosing a crape myrtle is to consider your USDA Zone. If you are not sure which zone you are in (or – like me – you need a reminder because you have a million numbers floating around in your head) you can take a look at a USDA Zone map or use a ZIP code look-up (both of which can be found on our website). Always be aware what zone you are in and the recommended hardiness zone of the crape myrtle you are considering. Our crape myrtles are hardy in zones 7-9 with some flourishing in zones 6 and/or 10 as well. But what if you live outside of a crape myrtle’s hardiness zone? Is it inevitable defeat? Not necessarily. Consider container planting a smaller, bush-like crape myrtle such as one of the Magics or one of the Black Diamonds. The Black Diamonds, for instance, can be container grown in zones 2-5 if taken inside during the winter months. Knowing your USDA Zone is the first step in deciphering which crape myrtles are possible choices for you. And aren’t difficult choices so much easier when we can narrow them down?

Besides your USDA Zone, the second most-important consideration for your crape myrtle is mature height. Some crape myrtles mature to less than 10 feet and tend to grow like a shrub while other tree-like crape myrtles can reach as high as 30 feet tall. You’ll want to consider both in deciding what you want in your yard and the space you have available. I’d love a huge crape myrtle tree in my yard. Unfortunately, my yard is rather small and there are already a lot of trees with large canopies which a tall crape myrtle might eventually run into. As much as you might want to be impulsive and live for the moment, successful planting always requires thinking ahead. Your crape myrtle may be small now, but it will grow; make sure your crape myrtle has plenty of room to reach its mature height.

After considering zones and mature height, most of the other crape myrtle characteristics are a matter of opinion, and can be considered in the order of your personal importance. For instance, if flower color is most important for you, narrow your selections down based on that criterion (our crape myrtle guide has a handy flower color chart that may help here). If flower color doesn’t matter that much to you, what does? Bark, flowering days, leaf color, growth habit? Every crape myrtle has unique characteristics, and there’s one that is just right for you!

Now before you get carried away, remember that a crape myrtle may look good on paper but that doesn’t guarantee that it will look good in your yard. So before you make a decision, make sure to take a good, long look at your current yard. Besides looking at the space in your yard, you may want to consider the colors of your landscaping and keep them in mind as you choose flower and leaf color. What other plants are blooming in your summer yard and what crape myrtle flower color would compliment them? If you are planting your crape myrtle near your house, also consider your house color. A white flower, for instance, might stand out more against a brick house than a red flower. A red one, however, might look nice against, say, green shutters.

Choosing the right crape myrtle might take some time – impulse shoppers beware! As much as I love all crape myrtles, they certainly will not all work in my yard. So find a nice meeting ground between what you want and what works in your space. And when you’re done, despite the time and effort – the sight of your very own crape myrtle exploding into summer bloom will definitely be worth it. Your future says, thank you.

Here are a few more tips to help you choose the right crape myrtle for you (and keep it right):

  • If you are looking for a more disease and mildew resistant crape myrtle, consider the Magics or the Black Diamonds
  • If bark is important to you, the Lipan, Miami, and Natchez have the best exfoliating bark
  • Smaller, bush-like crape myrtles such as the Magics or Black Diamonds work nicely for a hedge
  • If you want a taller crape myrtle, consider the Arapaho, Biloxi, Muskogee, Natchez, Tuscarora, or Miami
  • If you want your crape myrtle to grow tree-like, train it to do so by pruning in the winter
  • All crape myrtles love sun and need it for flower production, so make sure to pick a sunny spot in your yard to plant

Crape Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica: “Lilac of the South”

If you grew up in the south, like I did, you surely know and love crape myrtles. No matter how suffocating the summer heat in Memphis, we could count on the little row of crape myrtles planted in the hellstrips along our narrow street to brighten our listless, air conditioner-hugging days. As our tiny lawns turned brown and other, less heat-loving plants lost their vigor these small trees burst into dazzling, long-lasting fuchsia blossoms. Our drab aging neighborhood suddenly appeared uncharacteristically ready for a joyful celebration. All these years later, I am still grateful to the unknown person who thought to install those lovely reliable bloomers.

Above: Photograph by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr.

It took me many years of living in New York City to realize that I was wrong in my belief that crape myrtles could not survive our northern winters. In fact, since 1959, industrious hybridizers at the U.S. National Arboretum have been working to improve crape myrtles, making them more mildew and disease resistant as well as hardier. The most successful cultivars developed in this pioneering program are the result of crosses of L. indica, the most common species in the U.S., with L. fauriei, a species with striking red-brown trunks introduced from Japan.

Above: Photograph by Akiyoshis Room via Wikimedia.

The nearly 30 hybrids released by the Arboretum are named to honor indigenous tribes i.e. ‘Lipan’, ‘Tonto’, ‘Sioux’, ‘Yuma’. They have led to much improved and more versatile crape myrtles which now come in smaller forms, including dwarfs, that are more appropriate for our less expansive modern gardens. They can survive a broader climate range, are resistant to mildew (formerly a big problem with L. indica), flower in a much wider selection of colors and beautify the winter landscape with multi colored peeling bark.

Cheat Sheet

  • Its extraordinarily long bloom time, approximately 60 to 120 days, makes crape myrtle a show stopping specimen tree or shrub, especially since it has four season interest with attractive seed heads, fall color and its distinctive bark.
  • Because minimal pruning is advised, select your crape myrtle carefully to be sure it will be a good size for your space.
  • The showy bark of crape myrtle is enhanced by an underplanting of an evergreen ground cover such as liriope, ajuga, euonymus, or juniper.

Keep It Alive

  • As long as its basic needs are met, crape myrtle, hardy in zones 6 to 9, is remarkably easy to grow. Plant it where it will get a minimum of six hours of full sun each day in soil that drains well.
  • Water new plants generously until they are established and able to tolerate drought conditions.
  • To encourage rounds of repeat blooms, remove the spent flower heads.
  • Above: Photograph by Dalgial via Flickr.

Crape myrtle is a native of Asia where it was favored by the Tang dynasty in China more than 1,000 years ago. It was known there as the “Monkey Tree” because its trunk was too smooth for monkeys to climb. In this country crape myrtle has been around since revolutionary times. In fact records at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s estate, show that Lagerstroemia indica seeds arrived there in the late 1700s.

It is interesting to note, however, that after more than 200 years of growing this plant here, there is still a raging controversy about the correct way to prune it. Many gardeners, probably trying to reduce the height of the plant, commit what is called “crape murder” by lopping off the tops of the main vertical branches. This effectively destroys the graceful shape of the tree and is still frequently seen both in the south and elsewhere.

Above: Photograph by Dinesh Valke via Flickr.

According to Wayken Shaw, a gardener at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in charge of the Lily Pool area which contains a number of well established crape myrtles, this type of pruning is known as “pollarding” and has been around for centuries. He says the L. indicas at BBG were allowed to grow in their natural shape over the years. He advises gardeners to use a very light touch in cutting back these plants. “Managing them, at this point,” says Shaw, “is about thinning them out periodically to better showcase their beautiful form and exfoliating bark.” Since crape myrtles bloom on the current season’s growth, Shaw says he prunes in late winter or early spring and rarely needs to perform any major structural cutting.

N.B.: For more information on our favorite trees, see our Garden Design 101 guides, including Trees: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. A few suggestions for fruit trees:

  • Apple Trees.
  • Pear Trees.

Crepe Myrtle — Your Questions Answered

Crepe myrtles are hot right now. In fact, no subject is of more interest to Southerners this summer, not even the stirring Presidential campaign of Ron Paul.

Thus, the ever-generous, all-caring Grump will answer 10 of the most common questions about crepe myrtles directed his way every week.

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1. What does crepe myrtle need to grow well and bloom?

Answer — Lots of sun, well-drained soil, and extended summer heat. After suffering for so many years from hearing about how great gardening is in England, I am gratified to know that crepe myrtle hates it there. The summers aren’t sufficiently long and hot.

2. When is a good time to plant crepe myrtle?

Answer — When the plant is dormant, either in fall, winter (where winters are mild), or early spring. Of course, you can plant a crepe myrtle grown in a container in summer too, as long as you water it frequently to keep it from wilting. Once it’s established, it’s quite drought-tolerant.

3. When should I prune crepe myrtle?

Answer — Late winter is the best time for two reasons. One, the plant has no leaves, so you can easily see all the branches and which ones need removing. Two, crepe myrtle blooms on new growth. Pruning in winter won’t reduce summer blooming.

Having said that, you can produce a second major flush of blooms on most crepe myrtles by pruning off the round, green seed pods that form just after the first flowers fade. The second flush won’t be quite as showy, but you’ll like it nonetheless.

4. What is “crepe murder?”

Answer — Crepe murder is the odious practice of using saws and loppers to cut down a crepe myrtle into thick, ugly stubs, usually performed on an early spring weekend by bored husbands seeking to justify their existence to women. This ruins the natural form of the plant, produces weak spindly branches too weak to hold up the flowers, and prevents the formation of the beautiful, smooth, mottled bark that looks so pretty in winter.

For specific instructions on pruning crepe myrtles, see “Stop! Don’t Chop” and “Crepe Myrtle Pruning Step-by-Step,” two highly informative articles written by your favorite Grump.

5. What’s that black stuff all over the leaves?

Answer — Hershey’s Dark Chocolate. Nah, just kidding. Actually, it’s black mold growing on the sticky honeydew produced by sucking insects, usually aphids. Get rid of the aphids and you’ll have no mold. Spray according to label directions with an environmentally friendly product, such as refined horticultural oil on insecticidal soap (make sure to wet the undersides of the leaves), or a systemic insecticide that’s absorbed into the leaves, such as Ortho Max Tree & Shrub Insect Control.

6. White that’s white stuff all over the leaves and flower buds?

Answer — Powdery mildew, a fungus that likes warm, humid weather. Many older types of crepe myrtle are highly susceptible. The fungus distorts the foliage and often ruins the flower buds. While you can prevent powdery mildew by spraying according to label directions with a fungicide such as Daconil or Immunox or even with refined horticultural oil, you’re better off buying a mildew-resistant selection, such as ‘Natchez,’ ‘Miami,’ ‘Sioux,’ ‘Dynamite,’ and ‘Biloxi.’ Look for this on the plant label.

7. Why doesn’t my healthy crepe myrtle bloom?

Answer — Could be lots of reasons. Maybe it doesn’t get enough sun. Maybe powdery mildew ruined the blooms. Maybe Japanese beetles ate it. Maybe it just needs a few more years to grow. Maybe you’re in a drought. A crepe myrtle will often go dormant during a very dry summer with flower buds ready to pop. They’ll only pop when the plant gets some water, either from rain or from you.

8. What are some crepe myrtles that don’t get so tall?

9. What are the Grump’s favorite crepe myrtles?

10. Why do you spell crepe myrtle with an “e”?

Answer — It never ceases to amaze me how many people think this spelling is the most significant issue facing the world today. I spell it with an “e” because the crinkled flowers remind me of crepe. If you want to spell it “crape,” go ahead — on your own blog.

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