Crape myrtles are beautiful, low-maintenance ornamental shrubs frequently used as landscaping plants. Before adding a crape myrtle to your garden, it’s a good idea to consider how big it could get. In this article, we’ll discuss the height and size of crape myrtles.
How Tall and Wide Do Crape Myrtles Grow?
Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia spp.) are deciduous shrubs or small trees that produce multiple trunks. These plants are native to tropical and subtropical climates in Asia, Australia, and the Indian Subcontinent. Crape myrtles are also naturalized in the United States and are often used in Southern landscaping.
Crape myrtles can grow between 10 and 30 feet tall and approximately 6 to 20 feet wide. However, dwarf and semi-dwarf cultivars are also available for smaller plots. These varieties grow between 2 and 6 feet tall and about 4 to 6 feet wide.
If crape myrtles get too large for a particular space, they can be kept in check through pruning. However, drastically cutting crape myrtles back to a series of stumps severely damages the plant. This is often known as “crape murder”.
Crape myrtles only need light pruning in late winter or early spring before new growth emerges. Dwarf and semi-dwarf crape myrtles rarely need pruning as they stay compact and manageable. These varieties are ideal if you have a small space.
How Quickly Do Crape Myrtles Grow?
Crape myrtles are classed as fast-growing shrubs and trees. In most cases, crape myrtles can produce 2 to 3 feet of new growth every year. Due to their fast growth rate, crape myrtles reach full maturity within 5 to 10 years. Crape myrtle trees live for approximately 25 years, although some specimens have reportedly reached 100 years old.
How Much Space Does A Crape Myrtle Need?
Crape myrtles are frequently used as landscaping plants, especially for features like driveways and sidewalks. Some crape myrtles can grow up to 30 feet high and 20 feet wide, so giving them space is essential.
A crape myrtle’s exact space depends on its expected mature height. Before choosing a crape myrtle, evaluate whether your garden or outdoor space can accommodate the plant’s mature size.
Dwarf and semi-dwarf crape myrtles need approximately 18 inches to 10 feet of space, depending on how you use them. Plant these varieties at least 3 feet away from a house.
Many crape myrtles grow as medium-sized shrubs or trees. Give crape myrtle shrubs approximately 6 to 10 feet of space away from other plants. Plant smaller crape myrtle trees approximately 8 to 12 feet apart.
For large crape myrtles expected to reach up to 30 feet high, provide approximately 15 feet of space between each plant. Situate crape myrtle shrubs and trees at least 6 feet away from a house.
Where to Plant Crape Myrtles
Crape myrtles grow best in USDA Zones 6 to 9, especially in the Southern United States. However, crape myrtles can also tolerate winter temperatures as low as -5ºF. Crape myrtles need a sheltered location that protects the flower buds from strong, cold winds.
Most crape myrtles can survive winter temperatures as low as -5ºF. In colder climates, grow crape myrtles in containers and protect them by wrapping them in fleece or bringing them indoors.
How to Care For Crape Myrtle
Crape myrtles need at least six hours of full sun every day. The morning sun is preferable to direct afternoon sunlight, which is more intense. South or west-facing locations provide crape myrtles with the ideal amount of sunlight.
Crape myrtles thrive in well-draining, nutrient-poor soils that retain some moisture. Crape myrtles prefer slightly acidic soils with pH levels between 5.0 and 6.5, although neutral soils will be fine.
Water established crape myrtles every two weeks or so to keep the soil moist and more frequently in hot, dry conditions. Water newly planted crape myrtles once or twice a week for the first couple of years. This helps the plant establish a good crape myrtle root system.
Feed older crape myrtles once during the spring with a slow-release fertilizer. This provides plenty of nutrients for the development of new leaves and flowers. Fertilize newly planted crape myrtles once a month during their first flowering season.
Pruning & Trimming
Crape myrtles vary in size, impacting how often you want to prune them. Dwarf varieties won’t need much pruning because they only grow between 2 and 6 feet tall. However, some types of crape myrtle grow as shrubs or small trees that reach approximately 30 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
Rather than pruning too often, assess your garden first and determine what type of crape myrtle you can accommodate. Choose a crape myrtle that stays at a manageable size for your space. This allows you to reduce the pruning you’ll need to do.
Crape Myrtle Height and Size FAQs
Is Crape Myrtle a Bush or a Tree?
Crape myrtles can grow as bushes, shrubs, or small trees. They work best when grown as small trees that reach approximately 10 to 30 feet high.
Where is the Best Place to Plant Crape Myrtles?
A sheltered, sunny location with well-draining soil in Zones 6 to 9 is the ideal place to plant crape myrtles. They prefer areas with slightly acidic, nutrient-poor soils and six hours of full sun daily.
Do Crape Myrtles Have Invasive Roots?
Crape myrtles don’t have invasive roots, which explains why they’re popular landscaping trees for sidewalks. The roots shouldn’t undermine houses or outbuildings.
Crape Myrtle Height and Size Considerations: Wrapping Up
Crape myrtles usually grow between 10 and 30 feet high and approximately 6 to 20 feet wide. Dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties grow between 2 and 6 feet high. Plant crape myrtle trees at least 6 feet away from houses. Provide approximately 10 to 15 feet of space between crape myrtle trees.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.