Where to Plant Your Crape Myrtle for Best Results

Many people love crape myrtles due to their smooth, multicolored bark and vibrant clusters of flowers. If you’d like to grow one of these plants yourself, knowing where to plant them is important. In this guide, I’ll share my experience of where to plant crape myrtle plants so they can thrive.

Where to Plant Crape Myrtle for Optimal Growth

What Hardiness Zones Are Suitable for Crape Myrtles?

A Crape Myrtles tree in a sunny spot on a sidewalk

Since crape myrtles are native to Southeast Asia and Australia, it’s unsurprising that they like warm weather. However, just how much cold can crape myrtles tolerate?

While the exact cold hardiness depends on the variety, most crape myrtles can tolerate temperatures down to 0°F. Some extremely cold hardy varieties can even tolerate temperatures as low as -10°F!

So, what hardiness zones can you plant crape myrtles? All crape myrtles can survive in USDA hardiness zones 7–9, and some can thrive in zone 6.

That means that you can plant crape myrtles throughout the majority of the South as well as parts of the Mid-Atlantic, Mid-West, and Pacific Northwest.

Selecting a Site for Crape Myrtles

A flowering Crape Myrtle plant in bloom

Once you’ve determined that crape myrtles can survive in your area, you need to select the proper site. To do this, you should look at factors including sunlight, soil type, drainage, and proximity to buildings and other plants.

How Much Sun Do Crape Myrtles Need?

Crape myrtles are sun-loving plants that require full sun to thrive. That means you should plant them in a location that receives at least six hours of direct light daily.

These plants can tolerate a few hours of shade but will not thrive in full shade. If your crape myrtle does not receive enough light, it may become stunted or fail to produce flowers.

What Type of Soil Is Best for Crape Myrtles?

Another essential factor to consider is soil type.

Crape myrtles prefer well-draining, slightly acidic soil. This means the soil pH should be between 5.5–6.5.

As far as texture goes, crape myrtles aren’t super particular. They can thrive in soils that are high in clay as well as sandy soils.

However, you should take note of the drainage of the soil. While crape myrtles prefer consistently moist soil, they do not do well in wet soil.

If you need to increase the soil’s drainage, you can mix in some sand or well-aged compost. 

For more, see our in-depth guide on how to amend the soil

Planting Crape Myrtles Near Buildings

Planting Crape Myrtles Near Buildings

Before you plant your crape myrtle, you should take note of its mature size. Some crape myrtles will only grow a few feet tall, while others can grow over 50 feet tall.

That means you need to know what variety of crape myrtle you’re planting before choosing a location for it. Note the plant’s mature size and ensure it has room to expand without growing into nearby buildings, powerlines, and other structures.

While you should ensure that crape myrtles have room to expand, note that the plants do not have invasive roots. That’s why people often plant them along sidewalks.

Locations NOT to Plant Crape Myrtles:

A group of Crape Myrtles growing in a garden

In my experience, crape myrtles are generally hardy and adaptable, but there are certain locations where they may not thrive or may experience problems. Here are some of the worst locations to plant a crape myrtle:

  1. Wet or poorly drained soil: Crape myrtles thrive best in well-draining soil and can suffer from root rot in constantly wet or poorly drained soil.
  2. Locations with high humidity: While crape myrtles are relatively drought-tolerant, they can be susceptible to fungal diseases in areas with high humidity.
  3. Locations with heavy shade: Crape myrtles prefer full sun and will not flower well if planted in an area with minimal sunlight throughout the day. 
  4. Extremely cold or hot climates: Crape myrtles are hardy in USDA zones 7-9 and may not survive in areas with extremely cold or hot temperatures outside of this range.
  5. Areas with strong winds: Crape myrtles have brittle wood and may suffer damage from strong winds or storms if they’re particularly exposed. Some shelter is definitely recommended. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can Crape Myrtle Grow in Full Shade?

No, crape myrtle plants will not grow well in full shade. They need at least six hours of direct light each day in order to thrive.

What Is the Best Place to Plant Crape Myrtle?

Choose a location with full sun, well-draining soil, and room for the plant to grow. Additionally, ensure you live in USDA hardiness zone 6–9 before you plant a crape myrtle.

What Type of Soil Do Crape Myrtles Prefer?

Crape myrtle plants prefer well-draining soil that remains moist but not wet. They are not particular about soil type and can grow well in soils that are heavy in sand, silt, or clay.

When is the best time to plant crape myrtle?

The best time to plant crape myrtle is in the late fall or early spring when the weather is cool, and the tree is dormant.

How much space should I leave between crape myrtle trees?

Crape myrtle trees should be planted at least 10-15 feet apart to allow for proper air circulation and growth.

Can crape myrtles be planted in pots?

Yes, crape myrtles can be planted in pots, but from my experience, they will require more frequent watering and fertilization to thrive.

Do crape myrtles need pruning?

Crape myrtles do not necessarily need heavy pruning, but some regular pruning can help promote a healthy and attractive shape. Prune crape myrtles in late winter or early spring before new growth appears.

How do I care for my crape myrtle tree?

To care for your crape myrtle tree, ensure it gets enough sunlight and water, fertilize it regularly, and prune it as needed. Mulching around the tree’s base can also help retain moisture and keep weeds at bay.

Wrapping Up

Crape myrtles can make beautiful additions to gardens and landscapes in USDA hardiness zones 6–9. Choose a location that receives at least six hours of sun each day to keep your plant happy.

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