Crape Myrtles come in many varieties, varying in size from a shrub to a small tree, and in flower color. They bloom in the summer, ranging from white, dark pink, and purple, to a vivid red. Their bark is smooth and their leaves turn yellow, orange, or red in the fall. These tough trees can survive most environments, although they will not look their best unless they have full sun and good air circulation. Crape Myrtles are good options for low- or moderate-irrigation gardens.
Choose the variety that will suit your needs because the sizes (small shrub to small tree) and growth speed vary (most are slow growing). Check plant tags to be sure you are getting the size you want.
If you want a tree-sized Crape Myrtle, we recommend the Natchez variety. It is a round-crowned 20'-25' tree with cool white flowers and attractive, cinnamon-streaked bark. It grows at a moderate rate, is resistant to powdery mildew, and has great orange-red fall color.
Crape Myrtles are very popular trees, and in some neighborhoods are overplanted, leading to pest problems like aphids and powdery mildew. If every home in your neighborhood has Crape Myrtles, pest problems will likely be worse. Crape Myrtles are attractive to aphids (small sucking insects), especially in the spring. Fertilizer makes this problem worse, so avoid fertilizing your Crape Myrtle. Powdery mildew is a fungus disease that grows on leaves; crowded plants make this problem worse. Choose trees with resistance to powdery mildew. The University of Texas has a list of many varieties and their characteristics.
Height: 3 to 25 feet
Spread: 3 to 25 feet
Growth Rate: slow to medium
Irrigation needed: low to medium water
Fall Color: yellow / orange / red
Flowers: showy flowers of white, pink, purple, or red
Seeds/Fruit: 3/8-inch round seed pods
Front of green utility box: 8 feet
Building, paving, swimming pool: 6 feet
Fence, underground utilities: 3 feet
OK to plant under high voltage lines
Note: For very small plants you can reduce these planting distances.