Landscape Significance

Crape myrtle is valued mainly for its long period of striking summer flowers.

It can be planted as a specimen or in groups, and looks attractive when underplanted with a ground cover; the dark green of the groundcover contrasts well with the handsome bark.

Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
This photo was taken on Gregg Drive, James Island, SC.

Although it is not native to North America, this summer-flowering, deciduous small tree is a favorite among Southern gardeners because of its beauty and low maintenance. It has been called the lilac of the south.  Large clusters of showy flowers appear on the tips of new branches beginning in early summer and continue into fall. After flowers fade and fall from the tree, fruit remains in the form of small brown capsules. These fruits remain throughout the winter. The plant typically develops several main stems.

The height range is from 10 to 30 feet, and width range is 15 to 25 feet. The ideal planting site is with full sun exposure and good air circulation. This drought tolerant tree loves summer heat and needs sun to meet its full flowering potential. Crapemyrtles planted in partial or full shade will have reduced flowering and increased disease susceptibility. It has few insect pests, but powdery mildew is a common problem.

Identifying characteristics

In an opposite leafe arrangement, the lustrous green oval leaves are 2 to 4" long. The large spectacular flowers form in large panicles ranging from from 6 to 8 inches in length and 3 to 5 inches in width and white to purple in color. The delicate paper thin petals have a crinkled appearance like crepe paper. The exfolliating bark creates a beautiful smooth trunk that looks like it has been shaved.

More information on the Crapemyrtle is available at the Clemson Home & Garden Informaton Center: Clemson HGIC - Crapemyrtle