Things to know about crape myrtles before you plant yours.
This article covers the most common questions that most people have about growing and caring for crape myrtles.
1. HOW MUCH CARE DOES A CRAPE MYRTLE NEED?
They are a low maintenance shrub that needs basic care which is water, fertilizer, and plenty of sunlight.
With that said I know some gardeners who planted their crape myrtles in the sun, not fertilizing or watering them and they are doing just fine.
For a shrub that is dense with blooms, they will need about one inch of water per week and a balanced slow-release fertilizer such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10.
Trimming them is not a requirement but their blooms only form on new growth, therefore some trimming in the winter will help to produce more blooms in the following year.
occasionally removing damaged, dead or diseased branches maybe be necessary.
2. HOW MUCH DOES A CRAPE MYRTLE COST?
After reviewing dozens of online retailers and garden centers, this is the range that I have found based on the size of the planter which also determines the size of the plant.
3. SHOULD I CUT BACK MY CRAPE MYRTLE?
Whether or not you decide to cut back your crape myrtle is totally up to you because there is a reason some gardeners and landscapers cut them back.
This will cause the main branches to grow thick and strong which will help to hold the heavy cluster of blooms. It also keeps the center open to show the interesting bark.
Some gardeners don’t like this practice because of how the shrub looks and I agree but this practice is sometimes referred to as crape murder.
Allowing your crape myrtle to grow naturally will give the shrub a more full look, therefore whether or not to cut your crape myrtle back would depend on the look that you want.
4. WHAT IS THE LIFESPAN OF CRAPE MYRTLES?
The average lifespan of crape myrtles is 25 years but there are some that have been known to live over 100 years.
Another factor is sunlight, they need six to eight hours of direct sunlight.
Without direct sunlight, the blooms won’t be as prolific and the shrub may become stressed, causing the leaves to turn brown and the branches will sag.
5. ARE CRAPE MYRTLES MESSY?
Yes, crape myrtles are a very messy shrub and therefore you should choose a proper place to plant them if you don’t want to clean up a mess every year.
After their blooms are spent they will cover the ground, the blooms then produce seed pods that also fall to the ground, deciduous verities drop their leaves, and they shed their bark every fall.
If the branches overhang a walkway, the fallen blooms will temporally discolor concrete and may stain it permanently over time.
As messy as they are, you can rake the fallen debris and bark towards the base, using it as much as the years go on.
6. ARE THE ROOTS OF CRAPE MYRTLES INVASIVE?
No crape myrtles roots are not invasive, but they do have shallow roots that can cover a wide area and they spread out between two to three times the diameter of the shrub.
However, their roots will not damage any sidewalks, driveways, the foundation of a home, or any plumbing.
7. WHAT DO CRAPE MYRTLES ATTRACT?
They are well known for attracting honey bees but they also attract bumble bees, carpenter bees, and other small bees.
Crape myrtles are also known for attracting birds that feed on the seeds which provides them a food source during the fall.
These birds include goldfinches, house finches, cardinals, dark-eyed juncos, white-throated sparrows, and house sparrows.
8. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR A CREPE MYRTLE TO REACH FULL HEIGHT?
The average mature height of crape myrtle is 15 to 25 feet which takes five to ten years.
They are fast-growing shrubs that can grow more the 24 inches tall in one year.
9. ARE CRAPE MYRTLES SHRUBS OR TREES
They are shrubs by definition. A shrub is defined as a woody plant that has more than one branch that emerges from the ground.
A tree is defined as a woody plant that has only one main trunk that emerges from the ground with branches that have some distance from the ground.
Many people want to refer to them as trees and shrubs because of their height but trees are not defined by their height.