Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > June 2013 > GARDEN TALK with DOUG - Crape Myrtles

GARDEN TALK with DOUG - Crape Myrtles

First, I want everyone to know that I am not misspelling the word “crape”.  Crape is more green industry-wide used than the spelling “crepe”.  Crepe came about with how the flower is described as looking like crepe paper.


            Crape Myrtle trees were first introduced into the United States around 1790 in Charleston, South Carolina.  They have grown in popularity ever since.


            The past several years have seen the introduction of several new cultivars of crape myrtle.  The best of these newer hybrids have been developed by the National Arboretum.  The result of a cross of Lagerstoemia indica and L. fauriel, these hybrids are highly mildew resistant, aphid resistant, and have attractive exfoliating bark, a fast growth rate, good fall color, and longer bloom periods than most crape myrtles.


            Natchez’ is one of the most popular cultivars.  Most of the larger growing, white varieties seen in our area are ‘Natchez’.  It can grow 25 to 30 feet in height and width and flower from June through September.  Muskogee’ is very similar to ‘Natchez’ but with light lavender flowers.  Miami’ and ‘Tuscarora’, both with pink flowers, will grow large as well.


            Dwarf to semi-dwarf cultivars include:

Tonto’, growing 8 to 12 feet, with red flowers;  Sioux’, 10 to 12 feet, with pink flowers;  Yuma’, 10 to 15 feet, with lavender flowers;  Hopi’, up to 10 feet, with pink flowers;  and ‘Acoma’, growing to 10 feet with a wide spread and white flowers.


            Two miniature cultivars stay lower than 3 feet:

Chickasaw’, growing 18 to 36 inches tall, with a mounding habit and pink-lavender flowers;  Pocomoke’, similar in size and shape, both with dark pink flowers.  Both have good fall colors, and work well in low borders.


            There are many other great cultivars, not listed here, whose Native American names indicate National Arboretum introductions.  All are worthy of consideration because of their mildew resistance and long bloom times.


            A few quick tips to keep in mind when selection a crape myrtle:

1.  Crape Myrtles require 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.  Anything less will reduce flower production.

2.  Once you determine this sunny location, select the right variety of crape myrtle that will grow in this space.

3.  Because crape myrtles bloom off of their new, spring growth, pruning should be done during the winter months – and ONLY IF NEEDED AT ALL.  Pruning should be limited to removing the bottom sucker growth and thinning out of some of the interior branches only.  These selected interior branches should be removed back to where they originate.  Proper pruning will maintain a healthy tree growing in its’ natural shape.

Posted: 6/25/2013 by Doug Hensel | with 13 comment(s)
Filed under: DougHensel, GardenTalkWithDoug
Patrick Zazzara
I have a crape myrtle in a patio setting that has not been regularly pruned and has therefore crowded the space and is also blocking sunlight to other plants. I have seen severe pruning/cutbacks on crapes in the past. Can I do the same?
8/10/2017 10:00:54 AM

With the heavy rains a couple weeks ago all of my crape myrtles had to be pruned (either the branches snapped from the weight of the blooms) and/or I pruned to even them all out after the storms...Did I damage the trees by pruning them in the summer?
8/3/2017 3:05:53 PM

I'm looking for a smallish crape that can be planted in partial shade. Have an end unit townhouse to small is somewhat limited. I fortunately enough to have a partially wooded backyard so when I prune correctly, I can get filtered sunshine. Suggestions appreciated :)
7/19/2017 4:24:25 PM

We want to plant a row of large red crape myrtle trees this fall in a full sun location to replace a row of 8 ash trees we lost this year to emerald ash borer. What large true red crape myrtle variety do you recommend that has nice exfoliating bark and good mildew and aphid resistance?
6/22/2017 12:25:12 PM

Is it too late to plant a crape now? It's mid-June and I had intended to plant one earlier in the spring. I don't want it to struggle in the heat. I would love to get one in the ground to allow it time to grow before winter.
6/11/2015 9:31:00 AM

Are the Crape Myrtles a fast growing tree? How long after planting wild they give shade. I am interested in the 25 to 30' variety.
Thank you for your help,
7/10/2014 2:37:20 PM

I had 3 crapes growing in my front yard in full sun. I am not sure which variety they are put they are about 20-25 feet tall with pink flowers. 3 years ago, the tree in the middle died totally unexpectedly. A small sprout was left at the bottom, so I decided to let it grow to about 5 feet tall and then it died this past winter. Any guesses as to the cause?
6/14/2014 7:18:14 AM

Doug hensel
The Razzle Dazzle series of crape myrtles is excellent. They perform well in our area. Have a long blooming season on a dwarf growing habit. Exdellent for using as a sunny border.
7/1/2013 1:56:53 PM

Doug Hensel
Nicki - thank you for reading my blog on crape myrtles and sending me your question. For the miniature crape myrtle shrubs I would give each a 3 to 4 ft. spacing. you can always add some blooming annuals between the plants each year until the carape myrtles reach their maturity.
7/1/2013 1:53:02 PM

Doug Hensel
Greg, thank you for reading my blog on crape myrtles and sending me your question. Try not pruning your tree so hard in the winter. The reason for the long limbs and bending over is because all this new growth coming off the the old wood. Leave some of this years' growth on the tree. Only cut off the flowers.
7/1/2013 1:50:04 PM

Can you tell me something about the razzle dazzle?
6/28/2013 9:33:09 AM

Excellent and informative info on crape myrtles. For the miniatures--how wide (circumferece)should be established for best growth and maintenance?
6/27/2013 9:41:25 AM

Greg Goodall
My crepes grow well, but despite heavy pruning in late winter, the limbs get long and bend over when in flower. My crape tree us about 20 feet tall when in bloom. Should I cut flowers once done flowering to reduce weight on the new limbs and - hopefully, have less "fall over" of the limbs? Or something else?
6/27/2013 9:38:19 AM

 Security code