Lagerstroemia indica or Crepe Myrtle is a deciduous shrub or small tree native to China. Leaves are alternate, oblong-elliptic to rounded to 2.75 inches (7 cm) long, some cultivars being smaller or larger. When grown as trees, some cultivars will reach up to 40 feet (12 m) tall. Others are as small as 18 inches (46 cm) tall. Most crepe myrtles in zone 7 reach about 20 feet (6 m) tall. All have a peeling bark, with a cinnamon to gray inner bark. They are very drought resistant and easy to grow, whether in containers or in the landscape. They are hardy in USDA zones 7-10.
Blooming Time: Crepe myrtles have the longest blooming period of all trees and shrubs. Blooming periods last from 60-120 days. There are many cultivars out there. Colors can range from lavender to pink, purple, red or white. Due to their long blooming period, they are one of the premier trees and shrubs for our area (zone 7). They are very showy. The one in the photo is planted outside our greenhouse on the University of Oklahoma campus.
Culture: Crepe Myrtle needs full sun to light shade with a good, rich soil. If grown in containers as a specimen plant, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. In containers, they need a little more water than if established in the landscape. If grown in the landscape, they are very drought resistant once established, but supplemental water during periods of extreme drought is necessary for good blooms. We fertilize the ones in the landscape yearly with a 10-20-10 fertilizer. Plants grown in containers are given a 20-20-20 fertilizer on a monthly basis. Crepe Myrtles should be cut back after the flowering period to eliminate the large number of seedlings that can come up the following year.
Propagation: Lagerstroemia indica or Crepe Myrtle is propagated by cuttings taken in the fall or by seed.
Lagerstroemia indica was featured as Plant of the Week July 30-August 12, 2010.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.