Crepe myrtles are a wonderful addition to a garden and are used by bees for their pollen. They require little care once established and produce flowers from mid summer through to autumn. This tree helps bees prepare for winter by providing much needed pollen and to a lesser extent nectar.
Crepe myrtles are also known as Lagerstroemia of the Lythraceae family. They require six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day and minimal care once they are established. They have clusters of flowers that can be white, red, pink or purple that bloom in summer and can last 2-3 months. Crepe myrtles have beautiful on their trunks, which is evident during winter when the plant has lost its leaves. Most varieties of crepe myrtle are deciduous.
When planting crepe myrtles be aware of the characteristics of the plant you have purchased – they can range in size from 2m to 8m tall and two to 7m wide. If you are planting more than one make sure you allow enough space for the trees to grow out. If you have a variety that grows to 3m in width make sure you allow at least 2.5m of space between each plant. Crepe myrtles tolerate most soil types but do not like wet feet. Ensure your soil drains well.
When transplanting from the pot to the ground dig a hole that is at least twice as wide as the pot and 2-3 times as deep. This loosens the soil around the roots and allows them to easily expand in the loose soil to enable the plant to develop a healthy root system as quickly as possible. Once the plant is in the ground mulch the area around the trunk to maintain soil moisture.
Crepe myrtles require regular watering while they are establishing their root systems. Once established they need to be watered once a week in winter and up to 5 times a week during hot summers. Previously crepe myrtles were heavily pruned in winter. This often resulted in ‘crepe murder’ – over pruning the plant and making it susceptible to disease. New varieties of crepe myrtle are resistant to powdery mildew and do not need extensive pruning. Most don’t need pruning at all, except for the removal of dead branches. If you must prune your crepe myrtle do so in late winter and prune very lightly.
Crepe myrtles are relatively pest and disease free. Aphids, Japanese beetles, leaf spot and black mold can attack them. Powdery mildew resistance has been bred into most new varieties.
Thanks for reading, enjoy your journey!