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A Guide To Crepe Myrtle Varieties

5 de desember de 2022

Nothing says summer in the South like crepe myrtles. Found in many shapes, sizes, and varieties, their arching branches make them a mainstay for framing many a courtyard. The tree loves heat and humidity, tolerates drought, and grows quickly. Unlike the azalea, camellia, and gardenia, which pine for acid soil, crepe myrtle (Lythraceae) flourishes just about everywhere. No wonder it ranks as the South’s most popular (and coveted) ornamental tree.

Unfortunately, these beautiful trees are also victims of some serious crime. Every year in late winter and spring well-meaning but unaware homeowners chop them down to thick, ugly stumps (a crime known as «crepe murder»). Their motive? They likely bought a crepe myrtle only for its color without checking how big the plant will get. So when it inevitably blocks the upstairs windows just a few years after planting, out comes Angry Homeowner wielding the pruning saw.

Let’s put a stop to this terrible practice now by choosing crepe myrtles by color and size, and we’re here to help. Below you’ll find a guide to crepe myrtle heights with info on their summer bloom color and fall leaf color as well. (As gorgeous as their summer blooms are, just wait until you see a crepe myrtle in full fall mode. Orange, red, and yellow foliage replaces the brilliant blooms for an outstanding autumn show.)

How Tall do Crepe Myrtles Get?

Crepe myrtles—or crape myrtles and crapemyrtles if you prefer—range in size from dwarf selections that grow less than 3 feet tall to several large varieties that reach upwards of 30 feet. Knowing the mature height of a plant before you buy it and planting the proper size for the site will save you much heartache (and backache) in the future. Most crepe myrtles planted today are selections of Lythraceae indica—a species first introduced into the U.S. from China in the early 1800s by famed botanist Andre Michaux in Charleston, South Carolina—or hybrids between L. indica and Lythraceae faurei, an upright tree that reaches heights of 25-50 feet with arching branches.

Mature size is so important that we’ve grouped popular selections into dwarf (2-5 feet tall), semi-dwarf or short (6-10 feet tall) medium (11-20 feet tall), and tall (21-50 feet.) categories. Use dwarf kinds in containers, mixed borders, and masses. Use short types in containers, shrub borders, or near the house. Use medium types as small shade trees, street trees, or for screening. Give tall types lots of room and don’t plant near the house. One «Natchez» is plenty for a 900-square feet lawn.

Dwarf Crepe Myrtles

Name Form/Height Flower Color Fall Foliage Mildew Resistance Comments
‘Chicksaw’ Dense mound 3-4 feet tall and wide Lavender-pink Bronze-red Very good Slow grower; great in container 
‘Enduring Summer’ Rounded 4-5 feet tall and wide White or red  Burgundy-red Very good Long blooming early summer through fall. Hardy from zone 6-9. 
‘Pocomoke’ Mounding, 2-3 feet high, 3-4 feet wide Rosy pink Bronze-red High Great in containers; no pruning needed; heavy bloomer; cold hardy
Razzle Dazzle series Mounding, 3-4 feet high and wide See comments Burgundy Good Begins blooming a little later than most crepe myrtles, usually in July; selections include ‘Cherry Dazzle’ (our favorite), cherry-red blooms; ‘Diamond Dazzle,’ white blooms; and ‘Sweetheart Dazzle,’ bubble-gum-pink 
‘Summerlasting’ 3 feet tall and wide Raspberry, White, Bright pink, Plum Bronze Good Long bloom season; does great in containers; zone 7-10
‘Tightwad Red’ Tight mound 3-4 feet tall and wide Deep red Burgundy High Small leaves emerge wine-red in spring, changing to deep green in summer; sterile—no seed pods; cold hardy 
‘Victor’ Compact, 3-5 feet tall and wide Deep red Orange-yellow Good Cold hardy

Semi-Dwarf or Short Crepe Myrtles

Name Form/Height Flower Color Fall Foliage Mildew Resistance Comments
‘Acoma’ Arching, spreading, 6-10 feet tall and wide White Reddish purple High Handsome, light gray bark; repeat bloomer; cold hardy; our favorite white
‘Delta Jazz’ (part of the Southern Living Plant Collection) Upright, 6-10 feet tall, 4-5 feet wide Pink Burgundy Good Dark burgundy leaves are main attraction; not a heavy bloomer
Early Bird series

(part of the Southern Living Plant Collection)
Upright, 5-8 feet high, 3-4 feet wide White, lavender or purple Burgundy-red Good Blooms earlier than most crepe myrtles, as early as Mother’s Day; reblooms over summer, offering over 100 days of blooms; great in containers
‘Hopi’ Spreading, bushy, 7-10 feet tall and wide Medium pink Orange-red High Handsome, gray-brown bark; repeat bloomer; cold hardy
Magic series Rounded, bushy, 7-10 feet tall and wide See comments Light yellow Good Selections include ‘Coral Magic’ 
(coral-pink blooms), ‘Plum Magic’ 
(fuchsia-pink), and ‘Purple Magic’ 
(purple); new growth emerges red-dish and then changes to deep green
‘Red Rooster’ Upright, 8-10 feet tall, 5 feet wide Bright red Red Good New foliage emerges maroon-red; cold hardy
‘Siren Red’ Rounded, 8-10 feet tall and wide Dark red Yellow High New foliage emerges wine-red and then changes to dark green
‘Velma’s Royal Delight Bushy, 4-6 feet tall and wide Rich, magenta-purple Yellow-orange Good Gorgeous fl owers; handsome bark; cold hardy
‘White Chocolate’ 8-10 feet tall and wide White Orange and yellow Good Beautiful in the landscape; leaves emerge maroon, then change to burgundy-green
‘Zuni’ Vase-shaped, spreading, 6-10 feet tall and wide Medium lavender Orange-red High Graceful form, long bloomer, hand-some bark, cold hardy; our favorite lavender

Medium Crepe Myrtles

Name Form/Height Flower Color Fall Foliage Mildew Resistance Comments
Black Diamond series Upright, spreading, 10-12 feet tall, 8 feet wide See comments Deep purple Good These new trademarked plants are the same as the Ebony series developed by the USDA; they’re noted for striking, blackish purple foliage and contrasting flowers of red, pink, and white; selections include ‘Best Red’ (‘Ebony Flame’), ‘Blush’ (‘Ebony Glow’), ‘Crimson Red’ (‘Ebony Fire’), and ‘Pure White’ (‘Ebony & Ivory’)
‘Burgundy Cotton’ Upright to 12 feet tall, 6-7 feet wide White Burgundy Good Burgundy flower buds; leaves emerge wine-red and then change to burgundy-green; fast grower
‘Catawba’ Upright, 12-15 feet tall, 8-10 feet wide Deep purple Orange-red Good Cold hardy; our favorite purple
‘Comanche’ Upright spreading, 12-15 feet tall and wide Coral-pink Orange-red High Handsome tan to sandalwood bark; cold hardy
‘Dynamite’ Upright, 15-20 feet tall, 10 feet wide Cherry-red Orange-red Good Flowers may develop white flecking if they open on cool, overcast days; nearly seedless; new growth is crim-son, changing to green; cold hardy
‘Lipan’ Upright, spreading, 15-20 feet tall and wide Medium lavender Orange High Beautiful white to beige bark; cold hardy
‘Near East’ Open, vase-shaped, 10-15 feet tall and wide Soft pink Yellow Fair to good Beautiful blooms; not very cold hardy; not for Middle or Upper South
‘Osage’ Open, arching to pendulous, 15-20 ft. tall and wide Clear, light pink Red High Outstanding, chestnut-brown bark; heavy and long bloomer
‘Pink Velour’ Upright to vase-shaped, 10-12 feet tall and wide Neon pink Yellow Good Very showy blooms; leaves emerge wine-red and then change to burgundy-green; nearly seedless
‘Red Rocket’ Upright to 15-10 feet tall, 15 feet wide Cherry-red Orange-red Good Huge flower clusters; flowers open-ing on cool, overcast days may show white flecking; new growth is red and then changes to deep green; cold hardy; our favorite red
‘Regal Red’ Upright to rounded, 15-20 feet tall and wide Vivid, deep red Red-orange Good Heavy bloomer; handsome bark; cold hardy
‘Rhapsody in Pink’ Upright to rounded, 12-15 feet tall and wide Soft pink Yellow-orange Good Seedless; leaves emerge purple and hold color through summer; flower clusters rebloom
‘Sioux’ Upright to 15-20 feet tall, 15 feet wide Bright pink Red High Heavy and long bloomer; smooth, light-brown bark; susceptible to leaf spot in high rainfall areas
‘Tonto’ Rounded, 10-12 feet tall and wide Red Maroon High Handsome, cream-colored to gray bark
‘Tuscarora’ Vase-shaped, 15-20 feet tall and wide Deep coral-pink Orange-red High Handsome, mottled, light brown bark
‘Yuma’ Upright, vase-shaped, 12-15 feet tall and wide Medium lavender Yellow-orange Good Beautiful blooms; handsome, light gray bark; cold hardy

Tall Crepe Myrtles

Name Form/Height Flower Color Fall Foliage Mildew Resistance Comments
‘Arapaho’ Upright, vase-shaped, 18-25 feet tall and wide Intense red Maroon High Handsome, tan bark; fast grower; cold hardy
‘Basham’s Party Pink’ Upright, spreading, to 50 feet tall and wide Lavender-pink Orange-red Good Very popular in south Texas; not very cold hardy; not recommended for Upper and Middle South
‘Biloxi’ Upright, vase-shaped, to 35 feet tall, 15 feet wide Light pink Yellow-orange to red High Fast grower; beautiful, chestnut-brown bark; cold hardy
‘Miami’ Upright, spreading, 18-25 feet tall and wide Deep pink Orange-red High Outstanding, chestnut-brown bark; cold hardy; our favorite pink
‘Muskogee’ Broad, spreading, to 30 feet tall and wide Light lavender Orange-red High Handsome, light gray-brown bark; long bloomer; cold hardy
‘Natchez’ Upright, arching, to 35 feet tall and wide White Orange-red High Spectacular, cinnamon-brown bark; fast grower; long bloomer; most widely planted crepe myrtle in the South
‘Tuskegee’ Broad, spreading, 18-25 feet tall and wide Dark rose-pink Orange-red High Mottled, light tan bark; long bloomer
‘William Toovey’ Upright, spreading, 18-25 feet tall and wide Watermelon-red Orange-red Good Often sold as ‘Watermelon Red’; fi rst named crepe myrtle selection
‘Twilight’ 20 – 25 feet tall and 10 -15 feet wide.  Deep purple  Orange, yellow, Burgundy Good Bronze leaf in early spring then green for summer. Blooms June through frost. Beautiful mottled bark. Zones 7-9 

When to Buy a Crepe Myrtle

Believe it or not, we’re big advocates for you choosing a crepe myrtle in late summer. You’ll be able to see the tree in full bloom so you’ll know exactly what kind of show it will put on. And if you buy it in a container, you can either plant it in the yard right away or leave it in the original pot and plant it in fall when the weather is cooler. Bonus: August is often the time of year when garden centers put plants on sale, so you’ll probably land a bargain.

Whether you plant it or leave it in the pot, regular watering will be the key to survival. When it’s 95 degrees out, all it takes is one day of the roots drying out and it’s sayonara to your crepe myrtle. Make sure the roots stay moist as long as it’s warm. Next year, your plant will need much less water.

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