Grumpy Gardener's Guide to Crepe Myrtles

Grumpy Gardener Steve Bender shares tips and tricks on how to plant and care for one of the South's favorite plants.


[MUSIC] And now, the Grumpy Gardener. Hi, I'm Steve Bender. I'm Southern Living's grumpy gardener. [NOISE] [MUSIC] At Southern Living the the question I get more than anything else, you know, people don't ask me about the economy, they don't ask me about healthcare. What they really want to know is crepe myrtles. People are obsessed with crepe myrtles in the South and there's a good reason for that. It is one of our essential plants. It grows just about anywhere, and it's one of the easiest things to grow, and it is absolutely so beautiful. So let me just answer some of the basic questions you may have about crepe myrtle. Number one. Where can I grow it? The answer is, look around your neighborhood, everybody has one, so basically you can grow it almost everywhere in the south. All you really need is well drained soil. Number two, how much water does it need? It only really needs to be watered regularly the first year that you plant it. After its established, it's very drought tolerant and not a whole lot of care is needed. Number three, how big does it get? Well, you may be surprised to find out that there are lots of different sizes out there. We now have dwarf little crepe myrtles that only grow to be about two feet tall, then there's big crepe myrtles. There's a very popular white one called Natchez. That thing gets to be 30 feet tall. Okay, next question. When do I prune my crepe myrtle? As you read Southern Living, you know we talk about this all the time cuz people prune them all the time and they do it wrong all the time, the best time to prune your crepe myrtle is in late winter when all the leaves are off. But don't use a chain saw. Don't use a saw of any kind. Use hand pruners and just be a little judicious. What you wanna do is, remember it's supposed to be a tree. Next question. What are crepe myrtles that you, Steve the grumpy gardener, would recommend. Okay. I'm going to give you a few favorites here so. If you like red, I'm gonna recommend two to you. One is called Dynamite. It's a rather new one. The other one is an older one called Watermelon Red, and that's the old red one that you see, growing up and down streets in older neighborhoods. If you like purple, I'm gonna recommend you go out and buy one called Catawba. It grows to be about 15, 16 feet tall. And if you like lavender. I'm gonna recommend Zuni, Zuni, and if you like pink, the one I want you to get is called Miami, like the Dolphins okay? Now, one more thing about Crepe Myrtles, I get a lot of questions, they're asking me, why does it, why does Southern living spell Crepe Myrtle crepe, why do you guys spell it with an e? For more tips on essential southern plants, pick up a copy of southern living and go to [NOISE]
Experience our exclusive vacation collection.