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.

Crape myrtles 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 peels in puzzle patterns to reveal smooth cinnamon or tan colors that glow during winter, especially when glistening in Portland rain.

Lagerstroemias are available in different mature sizes; some are shrubs, growing between 5-8 feet. Others are larger, growing into lovely trees up to 20-25 feet. Tree types are now included on Portland’s street tree lists, and are an excellent choice for parking strips that are very hot, provided that they are watered weekly.

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’.


Lagerstroemia 'Coral Magic'

Big clusters of coral pink flowers in August, red new leaves turn dusky dark green – red fall color, grows 6-10’ x 6-10’.


Lagerstroemia 'Arapaho'

Grows 18'-20' tall.

Lagerstroemia indica 'Tuscarora'

Lagerstroemia 'Tuscarora'


Lagerstroemia '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.