Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Quick facts and care essentials

• Deciduous
• Climate zones 7-10, 12-14, 18-21, 25-31, warmer parts of 32
• Full sun
• Moderate water
• Growth rate: moderate

Crape myrtles vary in size ― some are dwarf shrubs, others large shrubs or small trees. Habit is variable too, ranging from spreading to upright. But all types have 1- to 2-inch-long, dark green leaves that often turn orange or red in fall, and dense, showy clusters of crinkled, crepe-papery flowers in white or shades of pink, red, or purple.

Trained to a single trunk, crape myrtle becomes a rather vase-shaped tree with a rounded top; multi-trunked specimens will develop a broader canopy. Smooth gray bark flakes off to reveal patches of pinkish inner bark.

Best in hot-summer climates. Mildew can be a problem; if it's prevalent in your area, look for mildew-resistant strains.