Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle Graceful

One of the hardest working ornamental trees. In late summer, Crepe Myrtles can be seen covered in colourful blossoms all over town. Colours range from white to soft pink and mauve, all the way through to brilliant deep pinks and purples.

Crepe Myrtles colours copy

They flower for weeks and weeks in the hottest part of the year. Not long after the blossoms finish, the tree starts to change colour from rich purples to burgundy and scarlet colours. As the tree matures it develops a  smooth bark with interesting patches of contrasting colours. They are compact large shrubs or small to medium trees that with a tiny prune can be kept artistically shaped and quite compact. They make a beautiful feature tee and are very hardy, happily adapting to poor soil, heat, drought, frost and exposed sites. 

Size: Dependent on variety. Range from 8m – 9m high trees; to 2m – 3m high shrubs.

Soil type: Crepe myrtle prefers a good quality, reliably moist yet free-draining soil with added organic matter, but it will perform well in regular garden soil. In pots, use a premium-quality potting mix.

Fertilising:  Feed in spring with a quality controlled-release fertiliser that’s blended for flowering trees and shrubs, and water younger plants during extended dry periods.

Care: Crepe myrtles are frost tolerant but in areas with very hard frosts plant in a sheltered position. Young plants may need some protection until they develop hardened wood. They can withstand hot dry summers but will still appreciate some summer watering.

The bark is one of the attractive features of these wonderful summer-blooming trees. Peeling bark is why the trunks of crape myrtles appear so smooth. You may remove the bark as it loosens up and begins to fall away to make the tree look neater

Pruning

Pruning a crepe myrtle is really simple when done right. Wait until the flowers have finished and then cut it back at least 30 centimetres. Pruning the branches like this will allow new growth in spring. One very important thing to do is to not prune it back too hard as it will lose its natural graceful shape. Bad pruning a crepe myrtle is known as crepe murder among arborists because it is such a common mistake that makes the plant look terrible. Here is a diagram showing the best pruning method.

Crepe myrtle pruning copy

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