Growing a Crepe Myrtle Tree

September 2, 2005
Growing a Crepe Myrtle Tree


I want to purchase a crepe myrtle, they seem to grow very well in my area of central Kentucky. I am looking for some guidelines as to planting and caring for it before I buy one.

Thanks ahead of time for any info,



Here are a few things to keep in mind before buying your Crepe Myrtle:

Depending on your needs, Crepe myrtles come in shrub varieties of 3-5 ft. or trees that grow as tall as 25-35 feet. Crepe myrtles in containers can be planted any time of the year, but burlap wrapped, balled or bare-root plants establish roots better if planted in the fall or dormant season, as their roots remain active even without leaves. All crepe myrtles should be planted in well-drained soil with exposure to full sun. They like moist compost but dislike wet conditions. Make sure they receive good air circulation to help reduce the incidence of disease. They will generally tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, including pH ranges from 5.0-6.0. Perform a soil test to determine how much fertilizer is needed. Over application can result in a loss of cool weather hardiness. Limited pruning can be performed in winter. Flowers are produced on current season growth so flowers will develop after pruning.

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Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

July 22, 2008

I just received 4 crape myrtles and wondered if they would make it if I planted them now, in the middle of July? Our soil is somewhat hard, and they would be in a full sun area. Do you think I should wait until the fall, or plant them now?

Hardiness Zone: 8b


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July 23, 20080 found this helpful

HI! When I lived in Louisiana, my crepe myrtles were in full sun for about 1/2 the day. My soil was like yours. I would plant them (or just plant 2 if you are very worried), & water frequently.


I would try to add something to the soil to make it a little lighter (like vermiculite), but my crepe myrtles thrived in the bad soil.

By JoAnne (Guest Post)
July 23, 20080 found this helpful

It is very hot for transplanting. The best way to keep the bushes watered as their roots heal from being transplanted is to use a 5 gallon bucket(find them at construction sites). Punch a few holes in the bottom and place one at the base of each bush. Fill it with water and keep it filled all of the time. the plant needs this for a year to take hold.

July 24, 20080 found this helpful

Just remember that crepe myrtles are one of the latest blooming trees. I pruned one back one January after our huge ice storm and worried about whether it would bloom or not.


By July it was blooming. I noticed that mine has just started to bloom and it is in afternoon sun.


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July 24, 20081 found this helpful

There's a garden practice you should know called 'heeling in'. That's where you have a corner of the garden with something like sawdust or woodchips, totally easy to kick open a hole and drop in a plant or tree for a temporary 'parking spot'. Wood products hold water perfectly well, allow a beautiful free root run, and then whenever you can plant it into its permanent place, after digging that monster hole your trees will need. Happy gardenin'!

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August 5, 2012

My crape myrtle has suckers coming up from the base of the tree and I can't seem to stop this. What can I do to eliminate these suckers? The tree is only 3 years old. Also, it has lots of dead ends on most of the branches. I have never had a problem before this year.

By Linda P from Salisbury, NC


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August 13, 20120 found this helpful

Crepe myrtles will sucker badly after they reach a certain age-around three, lol, like yours are:) Tree or shrub varieties both seem to get an urge to spread themselves after they've been in the ground a few years.


So you will need to decide how you want the mature plant to look and begin a regular pruning programme that will continue as long as it is in your landscape.

Is yours a tree variety? Do you want a central leader? Then you will have to be diligent about pruning out everything but the one central 'trunk'. If you want the more traditional three leaders, then choose the three straightest growing far enough apart that none will rub against the others as time passes.

Is it a shrub variety? Lol, you may have to do some research to be sure, but I have seen shrubs pruned to a tree shape with one-three 'central leaders', and while it takes a bit more work (shrubs like to sucker profusely), it can be worth it if you wanted a tree and accidentally bought a shrub. The shrub won't grow as tall as a tree variety will, but that may suit your landscape better anyway.


It's really not that hard to prune crepe myrtles in a way that makes them an interesting landscape feature practically year-round, the bare winter crepe myrtle is truly lovely as a sort of living garden sculpture and can be lit over the holidays, or spotlighted for an elegant and dramatic focal point at night.

Also, going forward you will have to routinely prune off those dead ends-as soon as the flowers brown off or fade (your clue is the blossoms aren't pretty anymore), cut the 'ugly' out off. Similar to deadheading a flowering shrub or annual, doing so means you will enjoy at least one more flowering in that season. I managed as many as three flowerings with our south AL and central FL crepe myrtles but even when I lived in NW GA I was able to get two flowerings from my crepe myrtles.


At this link Georgia's best loved gardener, Walter Reeves, tells you all about pruning this lovely plant properly:

The page has several links to more information on caring for the crepe myrtle in the home landscape.

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August 24, 2010

I have a crape myrtle that is 15 foot tall and only beginning to develop branches at the very top. How do I get it to branch from ground level? All of the other crapes that I have seen have multiple branches close to the ground. It was here and like that when we bought the house. It did bloom this year.

Hardiness Zone: 7a

By cynthia from Lynchburg, VA


August 28, 20100 found this helpful

Somebody before you pruned too severely. I don't know if bottom branches will ever appear now that it is that tall and that old. Get some new crepe myrtle trees to go with "Grandma"! Don't prune away the bottom branches! My crepe is very nice and fluffy!

August 30, 20100 found this helpful

You need to identify the variety. Some grow taller than others. If you prefer a bush, you should be able to cut it off just above ground level (not sure when in your part of the country) and it should develop lots of branches.


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August 30, 20100 found this helpful

Hi, we have a lot of crepe myrtle "trees" in our neck of the woods (central Florida) and lots of people like them. The main trunk will get larger and should have an umbrella topping that will bloom each year. If you want the bush it would be better to buy new and plant around it or off to themselves. Maybe someone would like to dig it up and transplant it for you.

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July 11, 2019

I thought all crepe myrtles started out as bushes and if you wanted a tree you cut back the branches into one tree trunk. After reading the Q&As however, it appears there is actually both a tree variety and a bush one?

Can you trim a bush into a tree?


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July 11, 20190 found this helpful

Dont change the natural shape of your bush or you can ruin it.

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May 28, 2009

I was wondering if a Crepe Myrtle tree would grow here?

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By Carol from Buffalo, NY


May 29, 20091 found this helpful


20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From hardwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost
From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel
By air layering

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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June 7, 2014

All the growth from 3 of our 5 crepe myrtle trees is coming from the base of the trees, not the top. Two of the crepe myrtle trees, on the other side of the house, are fine with the growth coming from the top branches. What do we do with the trees that now look like bushes?

By Cathy

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July 4, 2013

My crepe is dead at the top, no leafing as of July. Approximately 6ft up from the ground the trunk is green and suckers are growing. Should I deep prune this tree?

By Mike

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June 5, 2013

We recently planted some young crepe myrtles, they are only a couple feet tall. Two are losing leaves. We planted them with good soil and they did well for two weeks. We've had a lot of rain recently, but there isn't standing water around them. I did notice quite a few June bugs digging holes in the area where we packed dirt around them.

Any thoughts?

By Cathy S

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April 17, 2013

My boyfriend brought me home a bush like plant from work one day (he's in construction). It has the same leaves as a crepe myrtle tree, but is so small and has not yet bloomed could this be a crepe myrtle or something else? I'm dying to know what this plant is so I know exactly where I want to plant this thing.

By R.c from FL

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May 27, 2012

Will the crepe myrtle tree survive in the Toronto, Canada area?

By Karen S.

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Check out these photos.

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August 5, 2010

This year all my crepe myrtles were beautiful. This one by my fence really exploded in color. We had lots of rain this spring which helps these plants produce those grand blooms.

pink flowering crepe myrtle


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July 7, 2012

I am 75 and was raised in the South (Knoxville, Tennessee) and this is the tallest crape myrtle I have ever seen. It shades my living room window and my front stoop and door.

Large crape myrtle tree in front yard.


May 29, 2012

This page is about pruning a crepe mrytle tree. Unless damaged by frost, a crepe myrtle generally doesn't require much pruning.

Pruning a Crepe Myrtle Tree

October 3, 2019

If the leaves on your crepe myrtles are turning brown you will need to do some sleuthing to determine the cause. A cold snap may be the culprit. Too little water in the summer is another cause. For potted trees, check soil moisture. Many nursery plants are root bound. Consider replanting. Quick attention when you crepe myrtle leaves start to turn brown generally can save your tree or shrub.

A brown crepe myrtle leaf.

May 3, 2019

While you can use commercial pesticides to rid you tree of pests, there are also more environmental friendly methods you might want to try. This is a page about solutions for pests attacking crepe myrtle trees.

August 13, 2016

This is a page about leaves falling off a crepe myrtle tree early. Early leaf drop can indicate a number of concerns regarding your tree return to good health. Determining the cause is the first step in helping your tree.

Crepe Myrtle Tree with flowers and leaves

August 20, 2013

This is a page about crepe myrtle leaves turning yellow. Crepe myrtle trees are susceptible to a few plant diseases or insect infestations that may damage their leaves.

Crepe Myrtle

May 29, 2012

This page is about crepe myrtle not blooming. Crepe myrtle likes full sun, but in drought conditions or even when it's rainy, the flowering may be delayed.

Crepe Myrtle Not Blooming

Home and Garden Gardening TreesMay 29, 2012
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