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Botanical name: Lagerstromium indica
Common names: Common crape myrtle, crepe myrtle
USDA zones: 7 to 9 (find your zone). If you're at the coldest end of the spectrum (around or above the Mason-Dixon line), you'll want to find a warm, protected microclimate for it.
Water requirement: Needs moist, well-drained soil but can tolerate drier conditions once it is established
Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: 15 to 40 feet high and 6 to 15 feet wide
Benefits and tolerances: Can tolerate dry soils and clay
Seasonal interest: Summer and fall flowers; exfoliating bark; beautiful silhouette in winter
When to plant: Either after the last frost or at least four weeks before the first frost
The tree is multistemmed and sculptural. Even before crape myrtle leafs out in the spring, its dense branching patterns and overall vase shape are sights to behold.
The peeling bark is a beautiful blend of medium and light browns; it tends to roll as it peels, which adds a unique texture to the garden.
Crape myrtle is a wonderful ornamental tree to use anywhere in your yard. Make sure to allow enough room for its spread when planting it next to your house, sidewalk or driveway.
It's a good choice next to a patio (see first photograph). Its form adds sculpture, its flowers add color and its leaves provide dappled shade.
Planting notes. Because we've been cultivating these trees in the States for over 200 years, there are many varieties with different heights, shapes, hardiness ranges and flower colors. Check with your local nursery to see what's available in your area, then check the tag to find out what its mature size will be and choose a spot for it accordingly.