Crape myrtles are one of our favorite plants for summer color. Their flowers, in saturated pink, magenta, purple or white, add an unexpected pop of color at a time of year when most shrubs and trees have finished blooming.

They don’t stop with great flowers though; pretty red-tipped summer leaves turn glorious gold, orange, red and purple in autumn before falling off. Great bark completes the ornamental trifecta. The bark on many Crape myrtles peals in puzzle patterns to reveal smooth cinnamon or tan colors that glow during winter, especially when glistening in Portland rain.

Crape myrtles are native to areas where summer rain is frequent, often in the form of thunder storms. Portland summers are typically hot and dry, so supplying weekly deep watering is important for good blooming and strong growth. They also love heat. South-facing, blazing sun all day or reflected heat from sidewalks and walls is their ideal site. Surprisingly Crape myrtles thrive in heavy soil, having thick roots that push through clay. They languish in soil that is soggy during wet months and soil that is nutrient rich and amended.

Plants are available in a wide range of mature sizes, from dwarf forms maturing at 3-4’ to trees growing to 20-25’.


Laegerstroemia 'Arapaho'

Grows 18'-20' tall.


Laegerstroemia 'Natchez'

Grows 20'-25' tall.


Peeling cinnamon colored bark adds winter interest.

Follow the links below for help with selecting a Crape myrtle that is well-suited to Portland.