Although crape myrtles are some of the easiest plants to grow, climatic conditions can upset your efforts. However, you can get great results by planting the best cultivar for your zone and maintaining the right conditions. Due to the varying temperatures of different regions, you must know your zone and the suitable crape myrtle cultivar to plant. Different crape myrtle cultivars adapt to different USDA zones.
Crape myrtles trees mostly do well in warm zones 7-10. Cultivars such as Dynamite Sioux, Delta, and Enduring Summer thrive in hardiness zones 7-10. Only a few cultivars can do well in the cold climates of zone 6. Pocomoke, Acoma, Caddo, and Tonto are some of the developed cultivars that thrive in cold temperatures.
Crape myrtles basic requirements
Crape myrtle is considered a hardy plant. As a tropical plant, it’ll grow in many conditions. However, specific basic requirements can guarantee gorgeous crape myrtles for your garden. Here’s a breakdown.
Crape myrtles prefer well-drained soil and moderate fertility. It can grow in any soil; sand, clay, and loam. The soil has to be moist. Irrigation is highly encouraged during drought and exceptionally hot summers.
Most crape myrtles trees bloom and flower beautifully in summer. Summer has sunny days with temperatures averaging 850F, ideal for flowering. Consistently warm areas with temperatures between 800-900F produce the best flowers and leaves. However, different cultivars vary in their tolerance to cold or warm temperatures.
The best soil pH for crape myrtles is slightly acidic, about 5.0-6.5. Perform a pH test to analyze the state of the soil before planting crape myrtle. Sulfur-rich products will lower the soil ph, while lime products are excellent at raising soil pH. Mulching with organic compost is a great home alternative to raising the soil’s acid levels.
Crape myrtles love sunlight for growth and flowering. The tree requires full sun for six or more hours. It can still tolerate partial shade but does not thrive in full shade.
Water is important to crape myrtle trees, especially during the drought. The soil needs consistent moisture for bright leaves and flowering. However, overwatering crape myrtle will lead to root rot and eventual plant death.
Occasionally deep irrigate during the dry season without it becoming soggy. Let the water dry out before watering again. Also, avoid frequent watering during winter. The slow evaporation rate might expose the plant to root rot.
Hardiness zones for crape myrtles
The average minimum annual temperature determines the hardiness zone. Crape myrtles can thrive in USDA hardiness zones 6-10. Crape myrtles trees have different hardiness depending on genetics.
This list looks at the plant’s ability to withstand cold temperatures without damage.
Zone 6 minimum temperatures range between -100-00F. Not many crape myrtle cultivars can survive in zone 6 because of the cold temperatures and lack of sunlight. However, newer cultivars such as Pocomoke, Acoma, Caddo, Hopi, Tonto, and Cherokee have been developed for such regions.
In hardiness Zone 6, most crape myrtles cultivars will barely survive. They’re likely to not bloom into their full brilliance. If you plant the wrong cultivar during winter, the plant dies, leaving only the root.
Due to this zone’s cold temperatures, the plant’s cultivar should be cold hardy. If the plant is affected by the chilly temperatures, it dies during winter but revives in spring.
Planting a cold-tolerant cultivar is the only option if you want a crape myrtle in your garden in a hardiness Zone 6 area. Alternatively, you can find a microclimate or move the potted plant indoors to protect the plant from cold.
The temperature’s minimum average is 00F-100F during the cold season in hardiness zone 7. USDA Zone 7 covers approximately 15 states in the US. This zone has more options of crape myrtles cultivars than zone 6 because it is warmer.
Cultivars like Dynamite red, Dazzle, Twilight, Sioux, Natchez white, and Tonto are perfect for zone 7 climate.
The winter temperatures in zone 8 range from 100F to 200F. It is considered one of the warmest hardiness zones. Zone 8 has hot summers and mild winters that are the ideal climate for crape myrtles.
Crape myrtles cultivars such as Enduring summer, Miss Frances, Red rocket, and Delta eclipse thrive in this zone. Most of these cultivars have been bred to tolerate drought and heat.
USDA hardiness Zone 9 has warm winters and hot summers. The minimum winter temperatures range between 200-300F. Crape myrtles in this zone thrive all year round. Zone 9 is on the higher side of the heat scale.
Therefore, the crape myrtles in this zone have to be heat tolerant. Crape myrtle varieties such as Sioux, Muskogee, Dynamite, and Pink thrive in zone 9 regions.
Although crape myrtles are drought and heat tolerant, watering the trees in these zones is essential.
This is a warm zone, and cold temperatures are not an issue.
The minimum winter temperature in this zone is between 300– 400F. Summer is characterized by extremely high temperatures and high humidity. In this zone, crape myrtle leaves sprout in spring, and flowers bloom in summer. Cultivars such as Enduring Summer, Delta Fusion, Early Bird, Ebony Glow, and Catawba do well in such areas.
Zone hardiness information does not include other factors important to crape myrtle’s growth and hardiness, such as unusual weather patterns, drought, rainfall, soil fertility, and microclimates.
Can crape myrtles survive cold weather?
Most crape myrtles will survive in winter but may not thrive below 00F. In zones 2-5, plant them in a container to move them in winter. The temperature is extremely low in those zones, and there are constant freezes. The trees will die during winter and can only bloom in summer.
For your crape myrtle to thrive in cold weather, you must protect it. Regular fertilizing and mulching before winter can protect your crape myrtles during cold winters. Also, water regularly at fall to encourage extensive root development. A stable root system is vital during the winter. Pruning during summer is another way of preparing the plant for winter.
The most cold hardy crape myrtles
Typically, crape myrtles do not love extreme cold temperatures, but several newly developed cultivars can survive the low temperatures.
Cultivars such as Tuscarora, Arapaho, Hopi, Tonto, and Natchez are some of the most cold-hardy crape myrtle varieties. Early bird, Pocomoke, Caddo, Tonto, Kiowa, and Acoma weeping are also bred to survive chilly conditions. And they are easily available in stores.
These cultivars perform well in zone 5 and 6. However, they will need winter protection and mulching.