The crape myrtle (or crepe—both spellings are correct) is wildly popular across the South for its long-lasting blooms. If you love the look of blossoming trees but hate to see the flowers disappear after such a short reign, you’ll love the crape myrtle. Their flowers emerge in July and continue for 3–4 months, depending on the variety. They’re common in hot, dry places like Texas, but in humid regions like here in Florida, certain varieties are easier to care for than others.
Growing Crape Myrtles In SoFlo
One of the tricky parts of crape myrtle care is preventing and treating powdery mildew. The foliage is susceptible to this fungal buildup, and excess moisture is the culprit. So, in dry climates, it isn’t as common of a problem, but in coastal Florida, it can be a real nuisance. Luckily, there are now many mildew-resistant varieties that do really well in our climate!
It’s also crucial to ensure that your soil is acidic and has a pH of around 5–6.5. Crape myrtles need more acidic soil, so performing a soil test will let you know if the pH levels are where you want them. If your soil test shows a neutral or alkaline pH, you can purchase soil amendments like aluminum sulfate and add compost to the soil to boost the acidity.
Plant your crape myrtle in a sunny location and water it well for the first few months after planting. The more sun it gets, the bigger and brighter the flowers will be. Once established, they’re quite heat-tolerant and won’t require much upkeep at all.
Our Favorite Crape Myrtles For Fort Lauderdale
Choose one of these mildew-resistant varieties for your Florida landscape. You’ll be amazed at how fast they grow, gaining around 3 feet of height each year, eventually reaching 20–30 feet tall and 15–20 feet wide!
Black Diamond Crape Myrtle
This striking ornamental tree has really been making a statement in Fort Lauderdale! Their foliage and stems are black, creating a striking contrast between the voluminous, ultra-vibrant flowers. There are a few different varieties of Black Diamond with varying flower colors like pink or purple, but we think the rich crimson red variety is the most striking! It definitely adds a sense of drama to the landscape.
Muskogee Lavender Crape Myrtle
These icy amethyst blooms are big in both size and color! While the blossoms themselves are tiny, they cluster together in billowy mounds up to 16 inches long. The bark is a subtle cinnamon grey color, and the leaves put on an incredible show in autumn as they turn to gold, orange, and red. If you’d like to mass plant them to create a privacy screen around your property, plant them 15 feet apart.
Acoma Weeping White Crape Myrtle
White, fluffy, cloudlike flowers hang from this dreamy tree, with its signature weeping branches. If you prune the bottom branches, it will have more of a typical tree shape, but if you allow the weeping branches to hang down, it develops a more shrubby appearance. Paired with its soft grey bark, this crape myrtle is perfect for completing that modern, minimalist, monochromatic look that’s so in style right now. In autumn, you’ll love watching its deep emerald leaves transition to a rich purple merlot shade.
Pocomoke Dwarf Crape Myrtle
Want to enjoy a beautiful crape myrtle but don’t have room for a big, full-sized tree? No problem! This dwarf shrub variety only reaches about 3 feet tall and wide, but its hot pink flowers still make a big splash! For a solid hedge, space them 2 feet apart, but if you want some space between your plants, give them at least 5 feet of space.
Catawba Purple Crape Myrtle
Butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees can’t resist the luxurious purple flowers of this sensational crape myrtle! The leaves are exceptional, emerging as bronze in spring and then changing to a rich emerald shade before transitioning to bright red in autumn. The flowers appear a little earlier than most, right at the beginning of summer, and will continue to last for four long months.
If you’re ready to plant some crape myrtles in Fort Lauderdale, visit Living Color Garden Center, and we can help get you started! This fast-growing tree will be well worth the small investment for summers full of dazzling, colorful flowers that last and last.