Crepe Myrtles

David W. Kramer kramer.8 at OSU.EDU
Fri Aug 15 14:21:12 EST 1997

>Need advice on caring for Crepe Myrtles.  I planted 4 in full sun 2 years
>ago and they have grown very little and produce very few [or no] blooms.
>William L. Brooks
>wlbrooks at

If you have access to the WWW, you might want to visit the Virtual Garden
web site at*qrHTax/vg/

If you go there you can search for "crape myrtle" (yes, I, too, thought it
was "crepe").  Just in case you don't have access to the WWW, here's the
text of what you'll learn on their Lagerstroemia indica page:

Lagerstroemia indica "Crape Myrtle"

                   Crape myrtles are the most colorful element of Southern
gardens from mid- to late summer when each branch and twig on the plants is
tipped with a 6- to 12-inch cluster of white, pink, red, lavender or
purple-red flowers. Individual flowers are about 1 1/2 inches across, so
crinkly they look as if they were made of crepe paper.  Crape myrtle leaves
are oval and 1 to 2 inches long; they are bronze-colored when they first
unfold in the spring and become yellow, orange or red before falling late
in autumn. The smooth gray bark of old branches and stems gradually flakes
off to reveal fresh pinkish bark beneath.

                   For years, the only crape myrtles available were massive
many-stemmed shrubs, 15 to 20 feet tall, that were planted alone or trained
by pruning to grow as single-trunked trees. Now there are varieties of all
colors that grow only 5 to 7 feet tall. Smaller crape myrtles are ideal for
planting near a house and for informal hedges.

                   HOW TO GROW. Crape myrtles grow in Zones 7-10 and do
best in full sun and in moist soil that has been well supplemented with
peat moss, leaf mold or decayed sawdust. Do not buy bare-rooted plants,
which are difficult to establish in the garden; instead, buy either
container-grown plants or balled-and-burlaped ones, sold with their roots
in their original soil ball wrapped in burlap. For hedges, plant crape
myrtles about 4 or 5 feet apart. Prune in early spring before the new
growth starts so that the current season's stems can produce flowers.
Methods of pruning vary from the removal of deadwood only to the cutting
back of plants nearly to the ground each spring. The latter method produces
extremely large flowers on relatively few main stems that rarely grow more
than 4 feet tall in a season. This technique has been used primarily to
control the size of large-growing treelike varieties and is unnecessary
with smaller new varieties; little pruning is needed to keep these at a low
height. Plants can be started from softwood cuttings of young growth in
late spring or early summer, from semihardwood cuttings of more mature
growth in mid- or late summer, or from hardwood cuttings of dormant
leafless growth in late fall or early winter.

Another site you might try is the horticulture site at Texas A and M:

Again, you can use their search engine to get info on crape myrtle.

Dr. David W. Kramer
Department of Plant Biology
Ohio State University at Mansfield
1680 University Drive
Mansfield, OH  44906-1547
(419) 755-4344  FAX:  (419) 755-4367
e-mail:  kramer.8 at

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