With its papery, delicate blooms in shades of red, purple, pink and white, and its dense canopy of shiny, green leaves, the crape myrtle tree (Lagerstroemia indica) is a landscape favorite in the warm, Southern states and along the temperate West Coast of the United States. Crape myrtle is a sturdy, drought-resistant tree that loves sunshine and will grow in nearly any soil type. After the first growing season, crape myrtle demands very little attention.
Select a sunny spot to plant crape myrtle. Remove any weeds and stones from the planting area.
Dig a hole the as deep as the height of the crape myrtle's root ball, but at least two to three times as wide. Set the tree in the hole, at the same depth that it was planted in the nursery container. Avoid burying the crown of the tree, which is a slight protrusion where the trunk meets the root.
Break up large dirt clods in the reserved soil, and remove any large rocks. Backfill the hole with the reserved soil.
Water the tree immediately after planting to settle the soil around the roots. Allow the soil to settle, then if necessary, add more soil.
Spread 3 to 5 inches of organic mulch around the crape myrtle. Organic mulch such as straw, bark mulch, pine needles or shredded leaves will help to insulate the roots, and will deter weeds and retain moisture.
Water the crape myrtle deeply once every week for the first two months by allowing a garden hose to run slowly at the base of the tree. After that time, the roots will be established, and the tree will need to be irrigated only during dry weather, especially while the tree is blooming.
Feed crape myrtle a teaspoon of balanced general-purpose fertilizer every month between March and August during the tree's first year. Use a granular fertilizer, spread around the circumference of the planting hole. Avoid sprinkling fertilizer on the foliage, and always water the fertilizer into the soil immediately after application.