A crepe myrtle is a type of tall, flowering garden shrub native to Asia. These graceful plants are commonly found around homes in the Southern United States. In the 1950s, a hybrid crepe myrtle that is more resistant to cold temperatures and insect invasion was introduced to the United States. Since that time, many more species have been introduced, which means it's possible for almost everyone to place this graceful plant in the yard.
Crepe myrtles grow from 5 to 18 feet, and can be shaped as dense shrubs or flowing trees. Flowers can be pink, purple or white, and fall leaf color runs from yellow to red. These different varieties are cultivated to grow in different climates. Before you set your heart on a particular flower color and shape, ask your garden center to tell you what agricultural zone you're living in (if you don't know already) and ensure that the plant of your dreams is designed to live in your zone. This is an important consideration for crepe myrtle: plants that are asked to grow in climates that are too cold will simply die in the first winter.
For the most luscious, vibrant blooms, a crepe myrtle must be in full sun, all day long. Locations that are even partially shaded will stint bloom growth. These plants do not require a significant amount of water. In fact, too much water will kill a crepe myrtle. In the autumn, stop watering your crepe myrtle altogether, to encourage it to prepare for winter and enter a dormant state.
Many crepe myrtles are prone to pests and diseases, including the Japanese beetle, powdery mildew, leaf spot and the crepe myrtle aphid. Many of these problems can be solved with periodic rinsing and drying of leaves. However, many problems must be solved with pesticides and chemicals. This makes crepe myrtles difficult to grow in strictly pesticide-free, organic gardens.