Planting Crepe Myrtles

Where should I plant my crepe myrtle?

 

Climate

First of all you should think about the overall climate you live in. Crepe myrtles thrive in locations with mild winters. There are some crepe myrtles which can withstand cold better than others but for the most part they are sensitive to cold. Crepe myrtles can be planted in US hardiness zones 7-9 but even zone 7 may be too cold for some pure breeds of Lagerstroemia Indica.

 

Soil

Child digging a hole

photo by Shyn Darkly from Flickr

Crepe myrtles do best in well drained slightly acidic (pH 5 -6.5) loamy soils┬ábut they don’t need nutrient rich soil. Make sure that the soil isn’t very wet, crepe myrtles don’t grow well in wet soil. Crepe myrtles also have a moderate to low salt tolerance so while they grow well near roads and on islands, they should not be planted in coastal areas or watered with salt water. This may sound like crepe myrtles are hard to grow but let me assure they aren’t. These are ideal conditions and many crepe myrtles will do well with less than ideal conditions.

 

Location

Lots of sun. Crepe myrtles love sun and they love lots of it. So plant your crepe myrtle where it can get the most possible sun, even an hour or two of shade during the day can compromise flowering to some degree. If you are planning to plant a crape myrtle with low mildew/fungus resistance, make sure that you plant it in a location where it can have some air flow. You can find out which ones have the best resistance to mildew by checking out the different types of crepe myrtles on our “crape myrtle varieties” page.

 

When should I plant my crepe myrtle?

You can plant crepe myrtles any time of the year but if you live in colder climates you should wait till early spring or summer. This is because summer is when crepe myrtles do most of their growing so if you plant them during the beginning of their growing period they will have more time to prepare themselves for the cold winter months. Bare root or balled and burlapped trees are an exception though, they should be planted during late winter. Crepe myrtles should be watered very well at the time of planting and frequently afterwards until autumn when you should give the crepe myrtle a chance to harden before winter. Remember, these are drought resistant plants, so once they are well established they don’t need much water.

 

How should I plant my crepe myrtle?

Crepe myrtles can be planted a number of ways: transplanting, hardwood/softwood cuttings, or seeds. We’ll go over each of these methods but luckily crepe myrtles in general are very easy to get started no matter which method you choose.

 

Transplanting

Container grown crepe myrtles should be planted in late spring or early summer. Burlapped or bare root trees should be planted in late winter. You should water the plants profusely right after planting them and irrigate them for at least the first few weeks after planting if you planted your crepe myrtle during spring or summer. If you planted it during winter, wait until you start to see growth in early spring and then irrigate for three weeks. A little bit of fertilizer will help small crepe myrtles get started but for the most part you can avoid the fertilizer. After you get them planted you should put about three inches of mulch around them.

 

Cuttings:

Hardwood cuttings

If you want to use hardwood cuttings, in early to mid November take cuttings about a half inch in diameter that are about eight inches long and put them in a pot filled with potting soil. You should leave about an inch of the cutting sticking out of the soil. Keep them out of freezing temperatures and when the new growth starts, water them well and give them lots of sun until you are ready to plant them.

Softwood cuttings

If you prefer to use softwood cuttings, you can take a four to six inch cutting from a shoot that is actively growing during the summer time, dip in some rooting hormone, and put it in a container with potting soil. Keep the cuttings moist until roots begin to form.

 

Seeds

If you plan to grow crepe myrtles from seeds, you should plant the seeds during early spring. They should take about two to three weeks to start germinating. Once they begin growing just make sure they have enough water and you shouldn’t have a problem.

 

Review

Remember, crepe myrtles are easy to plant and are very tough, but to get the best results remember these main points.

  • Crepe myrtles love the heat and the sun. They hate freezing temperatures.
  • Plant your crepe myrtles in the spring, unless they are balled and burlapped or have bare roots plant those in late winter while they are dormant.
  • When first planting a crepe myrtle keep it well watered during the spring and summer months but stop watering it by Autumn.