There are many species and cultivars of crepe myrtle, but the most common are varieties of L. indica. Native to Asia and India, the first introduction in North America was made in the 1790’s in Charleston, SC. Many breeding programs in the years since have resulted in a multitude of flower colors, bark textures, sizes, and forms available in the trade.
Culture for Crepe Myrtle
Tolerant of a range of soil pH and textures, perform best on well drained soils and show some drought resistance. Fast growing, extended flowering period, and tolerant of urban conditions. Heavy flowering can lead to nutrient needs. Often pruned poorly, leading to term “Crepe murder”.
Concerns about Crepe Myrtle
Susceptible to powdery mildew, resulting in deformed leaves and reduced or eliminated flower set. In some areas commonly infested with crepe myrtle scale, which leads to dieback and heavy sooty mold. Aphids also cause foliar damage and sooty mold. Leaf spots and defoliations caused by the fungus Cercospora are common in hot and wet climates such as the deep south. May be fed upon by flea beetles or Japanese beetles.
Management Practices for Crepe Myrtle
Fertilize according to nutrient analysis. Treat aphids, scales, or foliar feeding beetles as required based on inspection. In disease prone areas, preventative fungicide applications will manage leaf spots and powdery mildew infections. Often poorly pruned and may require multiple restoration pruning cycles to regain normal form.