A tree for all seasons

The Crape Myrtle is commonly called the Crepe Myrtle for it’s crepe paper like blooms.  It is a pretty popular tree in my area.  They are planted everywhere from parking lots, medians and front yards.  This is personally my favorite tree year round.  From the newly emerging reddish green foliage in early spring to the bountiful blossoms in summer, what’s not to love about this ornamental tree.  The blooms come in colors like hot pink, light pink, a reddish pink, lavender and white.   In my opinion the hot pink is the most common color.


Some of you may know that my original tree in my Woodland Garden was struck down in late 2004 by Hurricane Isabel.  It was one of the existing plants at this house when we purchased it in eleven years ago.  It was probably a 3-5 year old specimen at the time and had reached a reasonable size when the wind  snapped it off at the roots.  This tree sprouted from the roots that were left in the ground a year later.  They are normally grown as multi-stemmed trunks which makes them susceptible to wind damage when young. 



Another nice feature is the lovely range of colors they provide at this time of the year.  Mine as you can see is starting to turn from yellow to a deep orange shade.  The colors can vary from tree to tree as seen in the pictures below in my neighborhood.

Crepe Myrtle - fall

Crepe Myrtle - fall

My neighbor’s Crape Myrtle has become a deep rust color that is beautiful.  She has a variety of Crape Myrtles in her front garden and the color right now varies on each one.  In addition it varies from other trees in the neighborhood as seen in the next shot. 

Crepe Myrtle - Fall

Crepe Myrtle - Fall

My other neighbor’s trees are a bright yellow with the tops turning a flaming shade of orange.  They almost look like their on fire.  Another added attraction to this ornamental tree is the interesting trunks.  Sometimes these large branches are twisted and sometimes they are straight as an arrow. 

Peeling bark

Peeling bark

But my favorite part of all is the peeling bark.   What’s left underneath is a smooth texture that is mottled in color.  The Crape Myrtle truly is a tree for all seasons.  Here’s some growing information:

  • Need at least 6 hours of sun a day to get peak blooming
  • Plant in moderate to well drained soils
  • Fertilize once in early spring for a mature tree
  • Fertilize a second time 2 mos later for a young tree
  • Hardy zones 6-10 (but will probably die back to the ground in zone 6)

22 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by greenwalks on November 10, 2008 at 1:26 am

    Neat tree! Feel like I don’t see them too much around here, maybe they aren’t truly hardy (or I haven’t been looking in the right places). I love the interesting bark peeling feature.

    Thanks! I think they are more of a southern tree Karen. Here in VA they are everywhere you look.


  2. Yes I do love the light purple flowers! Really nice. Regards from Copenhagen Denmark! //Anna

    I like the lavender ones too Anna. I’m considering planting one or two of these in my front yard in an island bed. Enjoy Copenhagen Denmark!


  3. Posted by spookydragonfly on November 10, 2008 at 5:44 am

    That is a very pretty tree for all seasons…not hardy enough for my zone, though.

    Thank you Spooky. You might be able to grow it as a herbaceous perennial though.


  4. They are a lovely tree and how nice of you to highlight their leaf color and bark. Alas, they are not hardy enough for my zone but I do enjoy them every time we head South!

    I’m glad you enjoyed the leaf color & bark. They are truly a southern staple.


  5. So pretty Racquel! wish they were hardy here!

    Thanks LInda. Have you looked at some of the new cultivars for the north that are grown as herbaceous perennials?


  6. I like crepe myrtles too Racquel. We have some, but they do not bloom well. I think they are too close to the house. They also get a fungus every year. Do you ever have that problem? Again, it may be because they are close to the house and not in the open. Funny you would mention the bark–that’s one of my favorite reasons for liking them!

    Are they getting enough sun Linda. They do need at least 6 hours to get a full bloom. I haven’t noticed any problems with mildew but shadier conditions can cause that as well. I am a fan of the peeling bark too, so interesting. 🙂


  7. This too is one of my favorite trees! You just can’t beat it for adding interest year around. Recently we went over to my in-laws home and dug up some baby crepe myrtles. I planted 4 or 5 of them. Who knows if they will live or not. The root systems were pretty small so I hope they take.

    It really adds alot to my Woodland garden each year Susie. I couldn’t imagine my garden without at least one. I would love to plant more (maybe an island bed in my front yard). Good luck with the baby Crapes, they should do fine at this time of the year.


  8. I’m a little envious when I see these lovely shrubs. I loved them when I lived in Alabama. Unhappily, they don’t grow in northern IL. I’ll just have to enjoy yours (and Cameron posted about them too so I got a double dose today.)

    You can enjoy mine & Cameron’s today then Marnie! 🙂


  9. That truly is a tree for all seasons, what gorgeous Fall color it has.

    Thanks! I was amazed at the fall color on mine this year Mom. It didn’t look this great last year.


  10. I have three Crepes and I love them in full bloom. Mine are the deep pink. Tallahassee’s streets are lined with them.

    They are pretty fabulous when they are in their peak season of bloom. That’s how it is here in Virginia too Darla. 🙂


  11. Hi Racquel,
    I love those trees. Such pretty colors.

    Hi Balisha, they are pretty colored trees.


  12. I’ve seen these trees posted on several blogs, and they are indeed beautiful. I can see why you love them so. Unfortunately, they’re not hardy here in Illinois, so I’ll just have to enjoy yours, Racquel:)

    I noticed that some of us were on the same wavelength today. lol They are a great tree though and I am more than happy to share mine with you Rose. 🙂


  13. We posted the same topic on the same day! LOL Not surprising since we’re all looking into our gardens for our topics. Mother Nature wrote the script for us, we’re just publishing for her. – Cameron

    This is too funny! It’s that time of the year when we notice what is really shining in the garden. Great way to put it …”Mother Nature wrote the script for us, we’re just publishing for her”.


  14. I remember seeing these everywhere in Virginia too Racquel. They’re indeed beautiful and I miss them. I didn’t realize the bark peeled like that but when I lived there, I wasn’t observant or into all things growing like I am now.

    It was a new experience for me when I first moved here from TX, seeing these trees everywhere. Virginia wouldn’t be the same without this lovely tree. The peeling bark is one of my favorite features.


  15. I adore Crape Myrtle and so wish it was hardy here in Michigan. So enjoyed its spendor visiting my sister when she lived near Atlanta.

    They are a true southern charmer Joey.


  16. I’ve never seen fall colours on the crepe myrtle before. In photos, I mean. They look beautiful. This tree is also widely grown in these parts but of couse the leaves do not undergo any change!

    I think our temperate climate causes this fall color. They do have a glorious autumn change of color.


  17. Ever since my first trip south-years and years ago- I have loved these trees. And the hot pink is my favorite. I can see why you love them so.They provide inetrest year round. Maybe one day they will come up with a variety that will survive in my zone 5b.

    They are wonderful southern favorites. I heard they have new cultivars that be grown as herbaceous perennials. Thanks Beckie. 😉


  18. They are beauties! I have three Natchez…tall leggy plants with cinnamon bark, great fall color and pleasant white flowers in the summer. I planted Natchez for the peeling cinnamon bark and fall color! The flowers are a bonus. Thanks for show casing them today!


    Thanks Gail. They do brighten up the landscape in the summer with their pretty blossoms & in the faill again with their colorful leaves. I am particularly fond of the peeling bark & mottled smooth trunks. You are quite welcome. I see you showcased yours today too. So did Cameron. lol


  19. I have a side yard with at least five or more of them. I use them for shade trees. Unfortunately, many have scalped these poor things. My neighbors’ looks like it is arthritic and in pain. I ache for this poor tree! I have one in back that blooms both pink and white. Is that an odd tendency, or common?

    How lovely your side yard must be when they are in their glory. I hate when people butcher these poor trees. I rarely trim mine except to remove dead branches or suckers from the base. They can’t possibly think these drastic haircuts are attractive. I’ve never seen a Crape that blooms both pink & white. Sounds unusual to me! I would love to see a picture of it in bloom. How pretty it must be.


  20. My favorite small tree! So beautiful.

    Thanks Tina, it’s my favorite too. 🙂


  21. Definitely a great tree in the landscape! I’ve propagated several that I hope to add in the spring. Good fall color, great flowers, nice bark in the winter, and can offer a good deal of shade if allowed to grow as a tree, it’s got something for every season!

    I agree Dave. I’m sure the ones you propagated should do well. They seem to be a fairly easy tree to maintain & grow. They truly are a tree for all seasons of interest.


  22. Wonderful pictures! Thanks. 🙂 I want to add also that these plants have gotten some misinformation on pruning. The crape myrtle doesn’t need to be pruned to bloom or for its health. Pruning only needs to be done to shape the plant and trim suckers. Roadside crews here in N Texas take a chainsaw to the poor things and I’m amazed that they even come back. “Crape Murder” is a common term used around here amongst gardeners. 🙂 These are great plants. Thanks for the post!

    You are quite welcome! They do tend to get mistreated around here too by overzealous landscapers & home gardeners. I very rarely trim mine except to remove the suckers at the base or remove dead limbs. I can’t remember the term that is used here but is quite similar. It makes them look horrible!


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