Tiny Potted Crepe Myrtle Tree
potted crepe myrtles
(Image credit: gyro)

The crepe myrtle tree is considered to be the pride of the South and with their gorgeous blooms and lovely shade, a Southern summer without seeing a crepe myrtle tree in bloom is like having a Southerner without a Southern drawl. It just doesn't happen, and it wouldn't be the South without it. Any gardener who has seen the beauty of crepe myrtles has probably wondered if they can grow one themselves. Unfortunately, only people who live in USDA zone 6 or higher can grow crepe myrtles in the ground. But, for those Northern climated people, it is possible to grow crepe myrtles in containers.

What to Grow Crepe Myrtles In?

The first thing to keep in mind when you are thinking of planting crepe myrtles in containers is that a full-grown tree will need a rather large container. Even dwarf varieties, such as 'New Orleans' or 'Pocomoke', will get to be 2 to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 m.) tall at their mature height, so you want to take this into account. Non-dwarf varieties of a crepe myrtle tree can grow to be 10 feet (3 m.) tall or taller.

Requirements for Crepe Myrtle Plants Grown in Containers

When grown in cooler climates, a crepe myrtle tree benefits from full sun and moderate watering. Once established, crepe myrtle plants are drought tolerant, but consistent watering will promote faster growing and better blooms. Your crepe myrtle tree will also need regular fertilizing in order to achieve healthy growth.

Container Crepe Myrtle Care in the Winter

When the weather starts to get cold, you will need to bring your container grown crepe myrtle plants indoors. Store them in a cool, dark place and water them once every three to four weeks. Do not fertilize them. Your crepe myrtle tree will look as though it has died, but in fact it has gone into dormancy, which is perfectly normal and necessary to the growth of the plant. Once the weather is warm again, take your crepe myrtle tree back outside and resume regular watering and fertilizing.

Can I Leave Container Grown Crepe Myrtle Tree Outside in Winter?

If you are planting crepe myrtles in containers, it likely means that your climate is probably too cold in the winter for crepe myrtle plants to survive. What a container allows you to do is bring a crepe myrtle tree in during the winter. It is important to remember that while planting crepe myrtles in containers allows them to survive the winter indoors, it does not mean that they are better able to survive the cold. As a matter of fact, being in a container outdoors raised their vulnerability to the cold. The container is not as well insulated as the ground. Just a few nights of freezing weather can kill a container grown crepe myrtle.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.