The crape myrtle, also known as the "lilac of the south," is an easy to grow small blooming tree that grows best in zone 5 and above. Flowers are held above the foliage in an impressive summer display when other shrubs and trees are finished blooming for the season. Peeling bark adds interest in the winter landscape. Colors available are white, several shades of pink, red and purple. Crape myrtles grow best in full sun and well-drained soil.
How to Grow a Crape Myrtle
Choose a well-drained and sunny location away from the eaves of a house or any large trees that can shade the plant. Crape myrtles prefer full sun and are prone to mildew problems in shady locations. Look for varieties with Indian names such as "natchez" or "muscogee" for best mildew resistance.
Dig a planting hole so the crape myrtle will be at the same depth as it grew in the container or in the nursery. You can see a water or soil line at the base of the plant right above the roots.
Carefully remove plant from container and place plant in planting hole. Spread out any roots that look like they are encircling the root ball.
Back fill planting hole with native soil while adding water to remove air pockets.
Add 2 cups of a granulated organic fertilizer around the base of the tree just beyond the root zone.
Cover base of plant with a 3-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and prevent transplant shock.
Start a pruning program while plants are young by training tree to have 1 or 3 trunks by cutting away new growth that appears at the base. An odd number of trunks is more pleasing to the eye and help keep a neat appearance. Spent flowers can be removed once or twice during the growing season for aesthetic purposes. Shearing top of tree or "dehorning" is not recommended as it causes excessive top growth vulnerable to insect damage.