Crepe myrtle is an amazing ornamental summer-blooming shrub.
Key Crepe myrtle facts
Name – Lagerstroemia indica
Family – Lythraceae
Type – tree or shrub
Height – 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – rich enough
Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – May to October
Planting, pruning and caring for it contributes to the beautiful blooming of crepe myrtle.
Planting crepe myrtle
In colder areas, planting in spring is best, whereas in other areas fall is fine, after leaves have fallen off.
- Choose a place sheltered from stronger winds and more than anything bathed with sun.
- Refer to our guidelines on planting shrubs.
Growing indica crepe myrtle in pots is perfectly possible, especially where winters are harsh, so that you can bring them in and protect them in winter.
Potted indica crepe myrtle
- Choose a good-sized pot to avoid having to repot too soon.
- Verify that the bottom of the pot has a hole in it.
- Along the bottom of the pot, spread a drainage layer of clay pebbles or gravel about an inch (a couple centimeters) thick.
- Use flower shrub or rose tree soil mix.
- Water when the surface of the soil has dried up.
Propagating crepe myrtle
There are 2 ways of multiplying your crepe myrtle, cuttings and and sowing from seed.
Preparing indica crepe myrtle cutting
At the end of summer, preparing cuttings from indica crepe myrtle yields very good results.
- Choose sprigs that are about 6 inches (15 cm) long, partly hardened and not bearing any flowers.
- Remove leaves from the bottom and keep only one or two pairs at the tip of the sprig.
- Slice the base open on ¼th inch (½ cm) with a very sharp and clean blade.
- Dip the cuttings in powdered rooting agents.
- Plant the cutting in special cutting soil mix (or a blend of peat and river sand).
- Cover your cuttings with clear plastic to ensure proper moisture levels.
- Place your cuttings near light, but not in direct sunlight, at the right temperature, at least 70°F (20°C).
- Keep the substrate a little moist.
- In winter, move the cutting to a slightly cooler spot, ideally around 50°F (10°C).
Don’t rush to plant to the ground, since the best planting season is fall, a whole year after having started to prepare the cuttings.
Sowing indica crepe myrtle
Sowing lagerstroemia is said to be quite easy if you can find seeds, and is best done in spring or fall (avoid sowing in summer).
- Sowing is possible in a sheltered place from 60°F (15°C) to 70°F (20°C).
- Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for 24 hours.
- Sow in special cutting soil mix without burying the seed too much (at most ½ inch (1 cm)).
- Place your seedling near light, but not in direct sunlight, and maintain adequate temperature, minimum 70°F (20°C).
- Keep the substrate a little moist.
- Germination is usually 4 to 6 weeks after sowing.
Pruning and caring for indica crepe myrtle
How to trim indica crepe myrtle
Pruning is at the end of winter, preferably during the month of March, either a bit earlier or a bit later. It is good to wait for a warm spell to prune your tree.
- Cut the previous year’s branches short to increase the following year’s blooming.
- Remove branches that cross over each other, keeping those facing outwards and removing those pointing back into the shrub.
Prune branches that have grown in the previous year, leaving only an inch (a couple centimeters) or so, checking that you’re leaving an eye facing outwards from the shrub.
- This helps keep a nice silhouette and a balanced shape.
Caring for indica crepe myrtle
If properly settled in, indica crepe myrtle requires very little care.
- Remember to water regularly over the 1st year after planting.
- Mulch in summer helps retain sufficiently high moisture levels in the ground and helps avoid needing to water too often.
- Adding slow-release flower shrub fertilizer in spring will help enhance blooming.
Indica crepe myrtle in winter
Indica crepe myrtle is very well suited to our temperate climates that occasionally witness rather harsh winters, since they resist to temperatures below freezing, down to about 5°F (-15°C).
For added security, you can spread a layer of dried leaf mulch around the foot of your indica crepe myrtle in winter.
Learn more about crepe myrtle
Native to Asia, like lilac actually, it was imported to Europe by a family of horticulturists living in the French city of Bergerac, and then spread to Perigord, Dordogne, Lot and all the other regions of France.
Its natural state is to grow several clumped trunks and looks decidedly shrub-like, but it is most often trimmed for sale on a single stem.
In fall, this deciduous tree unveils surprising red, yellow and orange leafage.
In winter, once leaves are on the ground, the trunk appears with its beautiful pinkish gray colors.
In areas with mild climates, it often happens that indica crepe myrtle keeps its leaves.
Smart tip about crepe myrtle
During the high summer temperatures, water preferably in the evening but not too much.