The Art of Crepe Myrtle Bonsai: Growing Tips for Beginners

Crepe myrtles are attractive shrubs and trees known for their beautiful crepe-like flowers. Although crepe myrtles look great in gardens, they can also be cultivated as bonsai trees indoors and outdoors. In this article, we’ll learn about crepe myrtle bonsai trees and how to grow them.

How to Grow Crepe Myrtle Bonsai: An Essential Guide to Cultivating a Beautiful and Unique Tree

Are Crepe Myrtles Good for Bonsai?

A potted Crepe Myrtles Bonsai in bloom sits atop a wooden table

Although they work best as ornamental shrubs and trees, crepe myrtles also make good bonsai trees. Thanks to their gorgeous flowers, Crepe myrtles are an excellent choice if you want a flowering bonsai tree. Thanks to their fast growth rate, crepe myrtles respond well to pruning.

Crepe myrtles are beautiful bonsai thanks to their colorful leaves and trunks. Crepe myrtle leaves change color throughout the season. During fall and winter, the peeling bark produces several stunning colors, from beige to gray and even red or brown.

Which Type of Crepe Myrtle is Best for Bonsai?

Flowering Crepe Myrtle plant growing outside

Dwarf and semi-dwarf crepe myrtles are ideal for growing as bonsai trees. They stay compact and highly manageable and grow well in pots.

Most dwarf or semi-dwarf crepe myrtles grow between 2 and 6 feet tall. Thanks to their naturally small size, these crepe myrtles can be kept in check with careful pruning. They also retain the attractive flowers, leaves, and bark of full-size crepe myrtles.

Some of the best dwarf crepe myrtles for bonsai include:

  • Lagerstroemia indica ‘World’s Fair’
  • Lagerstroemia indica ‘Pink Blush’
  • Lagerstroemia indica ‘Pixie White’

What Do Crepe Myrtle Bonsai Trees Symbolize?

The practice of bonsai developed in Japan as an evolution of a Chinese art form called penjing. Also known as penzai, penjing was practiced in China as early as 700 AD to create miniature natural landscapes. Bonsai differs from penjing in that it is purely focused on caring for an individual tree.

Bonsai trees help cultivate peace and serenity in practitioners. By cultivating a bonsai tree, a gardener has a more intimate connection with nature. Bonsai trees also symbolize the circle of life, balance, natural harmony, and simplicity.

How to Grow Crepe Myrtle Bonsai

An elegant Crepe Myrtle Bonsai in a Japanese studio

Growing Conditions

Depending on your climate, crepe myrtle bonsai trees can be grown indoors or outdoors. Crepe myrtles grow best in warm, humid conditions in USDA Zones 6 to 9. In warmer climates, crepe myrtle bonsai can be grown outdoors throughout the year. In colder areas, grow them indoors.

Crepe myrtles are deciduous shrubs that lose their leaves and go dormant throughout the winter. Simulate this indoors by placing your bonsai in a colder location during the winter. The temperature should stay between 45 and 55ºF (7 to 12ºC).

Sunlight Requirements

Crepe myrtle bonsai trees require full sun to grow at their best. Outdoors, crepe myrtles require approximately six hours of direct sunlight daily, preferably in the morning. Provide indoor crepe myrtle bonsai with bright direct or indirect light.

Soil Requirements

Crepe myrtle bonsai need well-draining soils that contain lots of organic matter. The soil should also be able to retain some moisture without becoming waterlogged. Use a standard bonsai potting mix for indoor plants. Alternatively, use a mix of soil, organic matter, and grit for crepe myrtle bonsai growing outside.

Watering

Crepe myrtle bonsai should be kept slightly moist throughout the growing season. Water crepe myrtle bonsai whenever the top inch or two of soil feels dry. Water the plant less frequently during the winter to help encourage dormancy.

Fertilizing

Crepe myrtle bonsai need plenty of nutrition, especially if you want them to flower. Feed crepe myrtle bonsai every two weeks from spring until fall. Use dedicated bonsai liquid fertilizers or slow-release granules.

Repotting

Repot crepe myrtle bonsai trees every one to three years. Over time, plants growing in pots become rootbound, leading to problems. Use fresh soil and add a dose of fertilizer to provide an extra boost of nutrients.

Pruning

Pruning is an essential part of growing a bonsai tree as it keeps the plant compact. Prune crepe myrtle bonsai in the fall after flowering has finished. This stimulates the tree to produce more buds next year. You can also train your crepe myrtle bonsai into a desired shape using wire.

Pests and Diseases

Pests like aphids or spider mites frequently target crepe myrtle bonsai. Eliminate pests using horticultural oils or insecticidal soap. Maintain good growing conditions to reduce the risk of diseases like powdery mildew, which can lead to damaged foliage and yellowing leaves


Crepe Myrtle Bonsai FAQs:

How Do You Grow a Crepe Myrtle Bonsai Tree?

Grow crepe myrtle bonsai in full sun and well-draining soil. Grow them indoors in colder areas or bring them inside during the winter. Fertilize your bonsai every two weeks and repot every one to three years.

Can Crepe Myrtles Stay Small?

Crepe myrtle bonsai can be kept small through regular pruning in the fall. Choose dwarf cultivars that are more suited to bonsai.

Are Crepe Myrtles OK in Pots?

Crepe myrtles grow well in pots as long as they have well-draining soil. Keep the soil slightly moist but avoid overwatering.

Wrapping Up

Crepe myrtles make beautiful bonsai trees thanks to their elegant flowers, colorful leaves, and peeling bark. Choose dwarf cultivars, as these are better suited to bonsai. Provide full sun and well-draining soil and encourage a period of winter dormancy.


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