Crepe myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica, Lagerstroemia indica x faurei) are among the most popular landscape trees in the southeastern United States. With showy flowers and smooth bark that peels back as it ages, these trees offer many incentives to willing gardeners. But if you live in a cooler clime, you may despair of finding cold hardy crepe myrtle trees. However, growing crepe myrtles in zone 5 regions is possible. Read on for information on zone 5 crepe myrtle trees.
Cold Hardy Crepe Myrtle
Crepe myrtle in full bloom may offer more flowers than any other garden tree. But most are labeled for planting in zone 7 or above. The canopies survive down to 5 degrees F. (-15 C.) if fall leads into winter with a gradual cool down. If winter comes abruptly, the trees can suffer severe damage in the 20’s.
But still, you’ll find these beautiful trees flowering in zones 6 and even 5. So can crepe myrtle grow in zone 5? If you select a cultivar carefully and plant it in a protected area, then yes, it may be possible.
You’ll need to do your homework before planting and growing crepe myrtle in zone 5. Select one of the cold hardy crepe myrtle cultivars. If the plants are labeled zone 5 crepe myrtle trees, they will likely survive the cold.
A good place to start is with the ‘Filligree’ cultivars. These trees offer stunning blossoms in the middle of the summer in colors that include red, coral and violet. Yet, they are labeled for zones 4 through 9. These were developed in a breeding program by the Fleming brothers. They offer a brilliant burst of color after the first flush of spring.
Growing Crepe Myrtle in Zone 5
If you start growing crepe myrtle in zone 5 using ‘Filligree’ or other cold hardy crepe myrtle cultivars, you’ll also want to take precautions to follow these planting tips. They can make the difference in your plant’s survival.
Plant the trees in full sun. Even cold hardy crepe myrtle do better in a hot location. It also helps to do the planting in mid-summer so that the roots dig into warm soil and establish fast. Don’t plant this tree in autumn, since the roots will have a harder time.
Cut back your zone 5 crepe myrtle trees after the first hard freezes in autumn. Clip off all stems a few inches (7.5 cm.). Cover the plant with protective fabric, then pile mulch on top. Act before the soil freezes to better protect the root crown. Remove fabric and mulch as spring arrives.
When you are growing crepe myrtle in zone 5, you’ll want to fertilize the plants once a year only in spring. Irrigation during dry periods is essential.