What is Crape Myrtle?

Crape Myrtle, scientifically known as Lagerstroemia, is a flowering plant that belongs to the Lythraceae family. It is native to various parts of Asia, including China, Korea, and India. Crape Myrtle is widely cultivated for its beautiful flowers, attractive bark, and overall ornamental value. It is a deciduous shrub or small tree that can reach heights of up to 30 feet, depending on the variety.

Characteristics of Crape Myrtle

Crape Myrtle is known for its stunning flowers that bloom in a variety of colors, including shades of pink, purple, red, and white. The flowers are clustered together in large, showy panicles that can measure up to a foot in length. These blooms typically appear in the summer and continue to add color to the landscape well into the fall season.

The foliage of Crape Myrtle is another attractive feature. The leaves are simple, opposite, and usually have an elliptical shape. They are typically green in color, but some varieties may have leaves that turn shades of red, orange, or yellow in the fall. The bark of Crape Myrtle is smooth and mottled, ranging in color from gray to brown.

Types of Crape Myrtle

There are numerous cultivars and varieties of Crape Myrtle available, each with its own unique characteristics. Some popular types include:

1. Lagerstroemia indica: This is the most commonly cultivated species of Crape Myrtle. It is known for its abundant flowers and attractive bark. The flowers can range in color from white to shades of pink, purple, and red.

2. Lagerstroemia fauriei: This species is native to Japan and is known for its resistance to powdery mildew. It has larger flowers compared to other varieties and is available in shades of pink, red, and white.

3. Lagerstroemia speciosa: Also known as the Queen’s Crape Myrtle, this species is native to Southeast Asia. It has larger leaves and flowers compared to other varieties and is available in shades of pink, purple, and white.

Growing and Care Tips for Crape Myrtle

Crape Myrtle is a relatively low-maintenance plant, making it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers. Here are some tips for growing and caring for Crape Myrtle:

1. Sunlight: Crape Myrtle thrives in full sun, so make sure to plant it in a location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.

2. Soil: Crape Myrtle prefers well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Amend the soil with compost or peat moss before planting to improve drainage and fertility.

3. Watering: While Crape Myrtle is relatively drought-tolerant, it still requires regular watering, especially during dry periods. Water deeply and thoroughly, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings.

4. Pruning: Prune Crape Myrtle during the late winter or early spring to remove any dead or damaged branches and promote healthy growth. Avoid heavy pruning, as it can reduce flower production.

5. Fertilizing: Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in the spring to provide essential nutrients for healthy growth and abundant flowering. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates.

Landscaping Uses of Crape Myrtle

Crape Myrtle is a versatile plant that can be used in various landscaping settings. Here are some popular uses:

1. Flowering Borders: Plant Crape Myrtle along borders or pathways to add a pop of color to the landscape. Mix different varieties to create a vibrant display.

2. Specimen Plant: Crape Myrtle can be planted as a standalone specimen plant to showcase its beautiful flowers and attractive bark. Choose a variety with a desirable growth habit and place it in a prominent location.

3. Hedge or Screen: Plant multiple Crape Myrtle plants in a row to create a hedge or screen. This can provide privacy and add visual interest to the landscape.

4. Container Planting: Crape Myrtle can be grown in containers, making it suitable for patios, balconies, or small gardens. Choose a dwarf variety that is well-suited for container growth.

Pest and Disease Management

Crape Myrtle is generally a hardy plant, but it can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Here are some common issues and their management:

1. Powdery Mildew: This fungal disease can affect the leaves and flowers of Crape Myrtle, causing a powdery white coating. To manage powdery mildew, ensure good air circulation around the plant, avoid overhead watering, and apply fungicides if necessary.

2. Aphids: Aphids are small insects that can feed on the sap of Crape Myrtle, causing distorted growth and honeydew secretion. Use insecticidal soaps or neem oil to control aphid infestations.

3. Crape Myrtle Bark Scale: This scale insect can infest the bark of Crape Myrtle, causing black sooty mold and overall decline. Use horticultural oils or insecticides labeled for scale control to manage infestations.

4. Japanese Beetles: These beetles can feed on the leaves and flowers of Crape Myrtle, causing significant damage. Handpick the beetles or use insecticides labeled for Japanese beetle control.


In conclusion, Crape Myrtle is a beautiful and versatile plant that can add color and interest to any landscape. With its stunning flowers, attractive bark, and low-maintenance nature, it is no wonder that Crape Myrtle is a popular choice among gardeners and landscapers. By following the growing and care tips mentioned above, you can enjoy the beauty of Crape Myrtle in your own garden or outdoor space.