Ask a Master Gardener
I love seeing the beautiful crapemyrtles around town. Are they hard to grow? PL
What’s not to love about crapemyrtles? Well, the freeze damage they had a couple of years ago is one thing, but other than that, crapemyrtles are a great choice if you would like a flowering shrub in your landscape.
Crapemyrtles are appropriate plants for growing zones 7 through 9. We are in growing zone 7 except for when a winter weather event gives us the colder days associated with zones 6 and 5 which is what devastated our crapemyrtles not that long ago. But amazingly, many of them survived and are growing back.
Crapemyrtles grow well in just about any soil condition, but they do need to be in a location that receives full sun to do their best. They aren’t bothered by the heat and can tolerate drought just about as well as any other plant.
One of the challenges associated with crapemyrtles is deciding on the color and size you want. Looking around town you can see a lot of crapemyrtles that have been what gardeners call “crape murdered,” meaning they have had all the upper growth cut off as a way of pruning. Rather than needing to prune your crapemyrtle to keep it how you like it, a better choice would be to purchase a crapemyrtle that grows to your preferred size.
There are basically 4 different sizes of crapemyrtles to choose from. First there is the tree form of crapemyrtles. These grow to anywhere between 15 to 35 feet tall. The shrub form of crapemyrtles grow to a mature size of 6 to 15 feet tall and are bushier than its taller counterpart.
Then there are what are called dwarf crapemyrtles that will top out at around 6 feet. But, if these are left un-pruned, over time, they can typically achieve the taller status of the shrub forms.
Last but not least, is the newer trailing forms of crapemyrtle. These crapemyrtles kind of creep across the ground and work well on the top of a retaining wall or even in a hanging basket.
Bloom wise, there are a variety of colors to choose from with some starting to bloom in late spring or even as late as early August.
While they are not affected by many pests, crapemyrtle bark scale made its way to Oklahoma a few years ago and many local crapemyrtles have played host to these insects. Fortunately, the fix is not too difficult, and we have information on how to treat for crapemyrtle bark scale on our website.
Crapemyrtles appear to have been introduced in the United States in the 1790’s with George Washington growing them his Mount Vernon home. However, their ability to handle heat and drought has made them a southern plant standard.
We have instructions on how to properly plants trees and shrubs on our website under the Lawn and Garden Help/trees section (www.tulsamastergardeners.org) Good luck.
You can get answers to all your gardening questions by calling the Tulsa Master Gardeners Help Line at 918-746-3701, dropping by our Diagnostic Center at 4116 E. 15th Street, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo: Keith Weller, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org