Lagerstroemia (Crapemyrtle)

A summer-long extravaganza of delicate crimped and crepe-papery blooms

The Lagerstroemia genus contains flowering deciduous shrubs or small trees, commonly called crape myrtles (crapemyrtles, crepe myrtles, or lilac of the South), grown for their year-round interest. Beloved in the South, crape myrtles are exceptionally generous landscape plants with many desirable features, not least of which is their long, prolific bloom season. In a summer-long extravaganza, abundant clusters of delicate crimped and crepe-papery blooms appear sometimes up to the first frost and come in a color range that includes white, pink, rose, red, mauve, lavender, and purple. Natural crape myrtle trunks are sinewy and beautifully sculpted and appear mottled and shagged as their exfoliating bark peels away to reveal the smooth pinky-gray to cinnamon colored inner bark. And although the foliage is always attractive and typically takes on fall color, the foliage on some varieties is showy enough to almost upstage the flowers.

Lagerstroemia is a genus of approximately 40 to 50 species of dwarf, semi-dwarf, medium, and tall cultivars that range from 2-foot-tall shrubs to 30-foot-tall trees. Lagerstroemia indica and Lagerstroemia hybrid are the 2 types most frequently planted. Sun-loving plants, crape myrtles bloom best with 6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day. They prefer moist soil but tolerate dry soils once established.

Dwarf crape myrtles maintain a compact size, suitable for containers, but are still fast growing and extremely adaptable. The multi-trunked shrubs can be pruned into a small single-trunked or multi-stemmed tree shape, which shows off the lovely bark, a highlight of winter gardens. Dwarf crape myrtles make excellent specimens, but these tough, iconic plants have so much to offer, you’ll surely want more than just one.