Crepe Myrtle

Asked November 11, 2019, 11:05 AM EST

I have been trying to grow a Crepe Myrtle and have not succeeded in getting it any taller than a shrub. In the winter what did grow dies back. In late spring some branches grow back. I live in East northern Harford Co. Thanks for your help.

Harford County Maryland

5 Responses

Crape myrtles are hardy to zone 7, possibly 6. You are in an area that experiences cold spells that are killing it back every year. Your crape myrtle is too tender for your zone. It may not be super cold every year, but all it takes is one very cold spell each winter to keep knocking it back.

Unfortunately, most crape myrtles are heat-lovers. You can try a different cultivar of crape myrtle which is listed as hardy to zone 6, but be aware that when they say "hardy", it means the roots don't die. It doesn't guarantee blooming in Zone 6. It simply means if the top growth may die back, the roots will regenerate new top growth--this still doesn't get you any blooms.

If you try a new cultivar (i.e. variety) that is hardier than your current one, try to place it in the warmest part of your landscape--a sun pocket near the house, protected from wind, for example. Also, a late-season bloomer may have more time to recover from winter dieback and be more likely to give you blooms.

If you know anyone nearby with a crape myrtle that blooms, find out what the variety is.


Thanks so much. I want a crepe myrtle and to see the tree full of blooms. Yet suspected it was too cold and windy. Your clear and concise answer was what I needed to realize what I knew. Ellen

Buttonbush and summersweet (both are fragrant and draw butterflies) and rose of Sharon (new varieties) are all good summer bloomers, too.


Thanks for the suggestions. I thought buttonbush had to be planted in a swampy area. Is this true?

Does not have to be swampy. It likes moderate moisture to wet. Would not suggest a dry spot, but once established it can tolerate drought. Supplement rainfall at least the first 2 years during dry spells.

Very fun shrub when it blooms like white sputniks and the butterflies arrive.