Crepe myrtle is one of the most popular landscape plants with striking flowers, handsome bark and attractive foliage. Scientifically named as Lagerstroemia, Crepe Myrtle is native to the Indian Subcontinent, Australia, Asia and parts of Oceania.
Crepe Myrtle is known to be a hardy plant. It does not require special attention and is easy to grow. You can even grow it in a large container.
The plant can be grown in full sun or partial shade. Ideal condition would be a region where it receives 6 to 8 hours of direct unfiltered sunlight daily.
The plant is known for its long-lasting flowers and their wide range of colour. The colour of the flower varies from deep purple to red or ink and any shade in between. Flowers give way to a capsule-like fruit which is green and succulent in the beginning and then matures to dark brown or even black. It later opens up to release seeds. The bark is smooth and pinkish grey.
Water when the topsoil feels dry. The plant is very susceptible to water-logging so do not over-water the plant as that may cause fungal problems in the root.
Use a loose, well-drained soil. The pH of the soil should be about 5.0 to 6.5. Use a layer of mulch to maintain the soil moisture. Also make sure the container in which you grow the plant has proper drainage holes.
The plant grows up to a height of about 15 to 25 feet and spreads about 6 to 15 feet.
You can use any balanced fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium during the spring and summer. Most established trees do not require fertilizing but fertilizing might help with better blooms.
Common pests affecting Crepe Myrtle are aphids, spider mites and scale. Blasting with a garden hose on the undersides of leaves can help get rid of aphids. Treat the plant with insecticidal soap and Neem oil to get rid of mites and scale.
Even a single tree can make for a spectacular focal point. You can grow them in a line for garden borders. In northeastern India, flowers and leaves are used as purgatives. The bark is used in the treatment of fevers and the roots are used as a gargle.