Crape myrtles, also known as crepe myrtles or myrtle flowers, are beautiful flowering shrubs or trees. However, before you plant this species, you should know its invasive tendencies. Join us as we answer whether or not myrtle flowers are invasive.
Are Myrtle Flowers an Invasive Species?
Before you plant crape myrtles, it’s wise to determine whether or not they are invasive.
Invasive species are known to quickly spread and choke out other vegetative. Invasive species are often non-native, but some native species can also be considered invasive.
To determine whether myrtle flowers are invasive, let’s look at how they spread.
Crape myrtles spread via seeds rather than rhizomes or stolons. That means the plants must produce flowers and seeds to reproduce.
Healthy crape myrtles can produce thousands of seeds. After these seeds experience a cold period, they will readily germinate in warm and moist conditions.
That means one crape myrtle can produce lots of trees!
If you’re not careful, these seedlings can take over an area. However, removing seedlings that occur can help limit crape myrtles from becoming invasive.
How Can I Prevent Crape Myrtles from Becoming Invasive?
The best way to prevent crape myrtles from becoming invasive is to avoid planting them in the first place. If you don’t plant a crape myrtle, the plant can’t spread!
However, if you do plant a crape myrtle, you can still take steps to prevent the plant from spreading. Since crape myrtles only spread via seeds, keep an eye out for seedlings.
When you see crape myrtle seedlings emerging, remove them. Removing small seedlings can easily be done by hand.
If you let the seedlings grow into large plants, you may need to dig the roots out with a shovel.
Alternatively, you can cut the plant’s trunk and then work to prevent the emergence of suckers. You can do this by grinding the stump or by painting it with an herbicide like glyphosate.
Are Crape Myrtle Roots Invasive?
Since crape myrtle can grow into relatively large plants, you may wonder if their roots are invasive.
Will crape myrtle roots destroy sidewalks? Can you plant crape myrtles close to your house?
In general, crape myrtle roots are not very destructive. Although the trees can grow over 20 feet tall, the roots typically do not bust through concrete and asphalt.
That’s why people often plant crape myrtles next to sidewalks and in road medians.
Crape myrtle roots can also coexist with other plants’ roots.
What Are Native Alternatives to Crape Myrtles?
If you’re concerned about the non-native and potentially invasive nature of crape myrtles, you may be looking for alternatives. Fortunately, you can select from various native and non-invasive small trees.
Check out this list of flowering large shrubs and small trees that are native to various regions of the United States.
- Native to the South: Eastern redbud, flowering dogwood, white fringe tree
- Native to the Midwest: Allegheny serviceberry, eastern wahoo, pagoda dogwood
- Native to the West: Saskatoon serviceberry, red osier dogwood, wild plum
- Native to the Northeast: spicebush, smooth blackhaw, American witch-hazel
What Are Myrtle Flowers?
People refer to a few different types of flowering plants as myrtles. These include crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica), Lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora), true myrtles (Myrtus spp.), and common myrtle (Vinca spp.).
For the purpose of this article, we are going to be talking about crape myrtles.
These plants are native to regions including Southeast Asia and Northern Australia. However, they are now grown in areas worldwide, including the United States.
The plants have smooth bark and multi-branching trunks. They grow as large shrubs or small trees reaching up to 25 feet tall.
During the warmer months, the plants produce many clusters of flowers. These flowers can be shades of red, pink, white, or purple.
Are Myrtle Flowers Invasive? FAQs:
Are Crape Myrtles Native to the United States?
Crape myrtles are not native to the United States. Although they’re grown throughout the US, they are native to parts of East Asia and Australia.
Can Crape Myrtles Become Invasive?
Since crape myrtles readily reseed, they can become invasive. However, removing resulting seedlings can help stop the plants from taking over an area.
Is Creeping Myrtle Invasive?
Creeping myrtle, also known as common periwinkle or Vinca minor, is an extremely invasive vining plant. It can quickly overtake landscapes, so you should only plant it in areas where you can easily contain it.
Consider the Invasiveness Before You Plant
Before you add a beautiful plant like a myrtle flower to your yard, you should consider whether or not the plants are invasive. While crape myrtles can become invasive, they can be easily contained and managed.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the meaning and symbolism of myrtle flowers.