Crape myrtle (Lythraceae indica)

Crape myrtle offers it all—colorful blooms, multiple trunks, interesting bark, brilliant fall color and shade. This deciduous tree offers cold hardy varieties to tolerate winters in USDA planting zones 6 though 9, yet crepe myrtle can withstand heat and drought conditions of southern summers. Crape myrtle is a fast growing tree that prefers full sun. Shown above is the 'Natchez' variety of crape myrtle.

Crape myrtle in the fall
Blooms and bark

The blossoms of crape myrtle are best described as crinkled like crepe paper and may be white, red, purple or shades of pink. The spent blooms give the ground a coating of color. The outer layer of the tree’s bark is released like peeling skin.

Planting area

Be sure to check the plant tag for the expected height of the crape myrtle. Height can vary from 10 to 30 feet, with a width of up to 30 feet. Avoid planting crape myrtle where it might receive shade. Shade can affect the number of blooms. Crape myrtle is not picking about soil. The tree grows equally well in clay or loam, acidic or alkaline. Just make sure the soil drains well.

Bark falls from crape myrtle in thin strips that curl

Bark of crape myrtle tree

How and when to prune crape myrtle trees