Success of Crape Myrtle in South Central PA

Fern2002(Southern PA)April 10, 2005

Was wondering if anyone had success in South Central PA with the hardy variety crape myrtle tree? We have seen Muskogee crape myrtle for sale locally but the nursery person said it probably wouldn't survive the winters if planted on western side of our house. Does anyone have suggestions for other hardy varieties that would survive a western exposure planting in Frankin Co, PA ? ...Appreciate any advice!

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karen_b(6a s.c. PA)

I live near the South Mountain Restoration Center, and when I joined the Arbor Day Assoc received a crape myrtle. I was surprised because I thought they only grew in the south. But I planted on the southeast side of my house (most sun, though my property is pretty much surrounded by tall oaks) and it looks like it survived. They normally don't start leafing out until later (I moved here from South Carolina and grew them there). I don't think it came with a variety I will have to check the paper work that came with it.

Keeping my fingers crossed

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 12:24PM
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Kathy46(Z6 Pa)

I have 4 different crepe myrtles. I'm in zn 6 near philadelphia. They do wonderful here. They are the last to leaf out and I always go through that "oh it's dead" panic but they come back every year.

You will love them.


    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 3:13PM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

There are some absolutely lovely crepe myrtles growing on the northern side of one of those old brick houses on Route 30, about 1/2 mile west of the square in Chambersburg. They must be 15 ft tall.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 9:39PM
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hannah(5 south IN)

I'm in SE 6B, I think.
I have one in my courtyard that's on it's 3rd year.
I keep it pruned like a tree, because I wanted some heighth in one corner but not the width.
It does fine...and I love the dark pink blooms!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 9:30AM
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Crape's need to be planted in the sunniest, warmest part of your property, south, southwest in zone 6. If it's also protected from strong winter winds, chances are good for success.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 9:07AM
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GrandmaCarol(z6 PA)

I have a row of 5 crape myrtles - don't know the varieties - thriving on the southwest side of the house. They were planted as "saplings" in 1999 when my house wat built. I live just west of Chambersburg on a bit of a ridge and they are subjected to both wind and the hot afternoon sun, but seem to take it all in stride. Just keep in mind that they are VERY slow to leaf out in the spring!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 10:29PM
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Fern2002(Southern PA)

Thanks for all the replies. I'm located just west of Chambersburg too. Fern lane, which is off of Frank Rd. Anyway, we are in the process of finishing up a backyard patio and I was trying to design a landscape plan for around it and thought crape myrtle would be nice to privatize the patio a little. Unfortunately the back yard faces almost directly West. Hope they can survive the winter winds. I need to find out what type they have planted in the parking lot at Chbg. Lowes ...Whatever variety they are they seem to do well there and look great when blooming.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 10:57PM
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I am just amazed to find others on here this close to my place! No Crape myrtles here though. I am happy just to get the weeping cherry to bloom without freezing. This year it is spectacular! Kathy_ west of Waynesboro who would like a have garden club close to here

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 5:15PM
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geoforce(z7a SE PA)

I unfortunately live in what is known as a frost drainage area. A large open field on top of the slope my house is on . I gave up on flowering cherries and flowering peach after getting bloom 1 year out of 8, and actually lose all the bloom on my forsythia about 1 year in 3. I gave up trying crepe myrtle here after losing the fourth one. I do love them, as much or more for the gorgeous form and bark of their trunks when they age. Friends tell me to try the shrubby 'crepe myrtlettes" but I want the tree more than the flowers.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 10:22PM
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I live in south central PA (Northern York County) and just planted a Crepe Myrtle this past spring. It is on the south side, in full sun. I was wondering what, if any, special care it needed to endure it's first winter. This is a very special tree to me as it is where I laid my daughter's ashes and the plant represents her life.

Can anyone offer advice on care for this plant?

    Bookmark   November 3, 2006 at 1:47PM
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I live in Chester Co., near Downingtown, and I have two CM's. One was obvously not suited for this climate, and it died down severely, every year for about the first 10 years; now it is holding its own and actually getting some height. The other was a variety advertised to be cold hardy, and it has always done well. The hardy one is planted with a southern exposure with no protection from the westerly winds. I don't do anything to help it through the winter.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2006 at 3:56PM
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Has anyone ever tried one around Pittsburgh? I can't remember having seen any since I moved here from TX a bit over 3 years ago so I thought they wouldn't survive, but then I saw this thread of messages.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 5:55PM
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wolfe15136(z6 PA)

They are pretty rare here in Pittsburgh, but I know of a hedge in Dormont.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 6:30PM
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There are spectacular ones on S. Dallas, about 2 blocks S. of Penn Ave, in the Pt. Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh. You could call them bush-type, but they are dense and tall (15-18 feet?) and so spectacular that I trespassed on a total stranger's lawn and nabbed a single blossom, so I could ask the nursery what they were. Looking at google maps, the exposure is east-southeast. A house and a rise block them from wind from the west, but they are not right up against the house or fence. At a guess, the address should be ~300 S Dallas, Pittsburgh 15208, if you want to map it and drive by to take a look. When they are flowering you will absolutely see them without bothering the homeowner. (The guy at Sestilli nursery concurs--they're the best ones in town.)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 9:14PM
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Hi!! I own 3 in Mt. Lebanon. I have Dynamite, Tonoto, and Potomac. All have survived and have grown well---and are blooming!!! All 3 were purchased at Lowes for about $13.00 each. With our below 0 spring, my crapes still survived and sprouted from both the roots and lower woody stems. All are in the front and side yard. This would be a southeastern exposure. I hope this helps!! I did not winterize them in any particular way..:)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 10:36PM
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westhighlandblue(z6 PA)

I live in Norristown. I have several Crape Myrtles (William Tovey) thriving in a SW exposure, after two years. I am so pleased with their performance that I added several hybrid minatures to my landscape this summer. There are a few large old Crepe Myrtle's near the rail road tracks thriving in SW exposure, as well. They sit next to a renovated building, but I suspect they have survived years of neglect. A neighbor of mine also has a quite large and old Crepe Myrtle.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 1:03PM
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Yes crepe myrtles will grow in Pgh. I have three some nurseries tell you they won't,but mined did.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 10:52AM
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I live in the Pittsburgh, PA area. I planted a Dazzle Me Pink crepe myrtle, which is a dwarf variety of crepe myrtle, last summer in my yard. I bought it at a nursery in Virginia because I loved the crepe myrtles I saw in that area. It is showing signs of life - buds and leaves on the lowest branches. I even failed to mulch it before winter came. I saw a three yards here in Pittsburgh in my neighborhood that have a crepe myrtle. All were doing well, and all were in full bloom last summer. My local nursery said they would not survive here, but evidently they do.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 10:12PM
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Where can I buy a Dynamite that is larger than 4 to 5 feet? Near or within 50-75 miles of Lancaster ,pa

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:00PM
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Connie K

I just saw some at Stauffer's of Kissel Hill at their Lititz location.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 1:33PM
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The Pittsburgh area is a heat island and considered to be zone 7 by some gardening sites.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 7:54AM
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My dwarf crape myrtle has definitely survived the winter, and is doing well. The foliage is a nice dark green and healthy looking, and its been growing nicely. Its only been in the ground for about a year, and its just getting its blooms. The blooms haven't opened yet, but I expect them to within the next few weeks. I will have pictures soon when its in bloom. I guess mine is a little late to bloom since its a new plant. Next year, I hope the blooms come out sooner. The few crape myrtles I saw around here in Pittsburgh started blooming last week around mid-July and should last thru September.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 12:22AM
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I am outside Philadelphia and am planning on getting a Crape Myrtle "Tonto," which I understand can do well in my area, winters and all. Does anyone have a recommendation on whether it is too late in the summer to plant one this year? Would it be better to wait until spring? I am a new gardener and so not well-versed in this. Thanks for any suggestions!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 5:36PM
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Planting it now is okay--just be sure to keep up with regular watering if the weather gets dry. I planted some in late July's heat (kept them watered), and they came into bloom already. They are really very forgiving shrubs/trees--I've never had one die on me even after the WORST winters.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 7:01AM
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I see alot growing beautifully in our area but mine isnt???

    Bookmark   October 11, 2011 at 7:41AM
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I planted two Crape Myrtles 2 years ago in my father's honor. They were dear to my heart. My father said they would never make it. They belong to Virginia where i grew up.It was silly bantering back and forth.For years I told him i was seeing them in Chester County.In my yard i had two thriving 5 'crape's. I was proud as punch.Well 2014's winter, i thought killed them. I cried and mourned these two tree's as stupid as it sounds. I stood in my yard and told my Dad he was right. Now it is June they look dead as door nails. Ready to give my hubby the green light with the backhoe i pulled the mulch away from the base of the trunk. IT WAS GROWTH! I cried my eyes out.There it was at ground level just below the ice popped bark,GROWTH. I went straight to the garden ctr. and bought fertilizer stakes and i am keeping them moist.We clipped them way back.I have bushes now. Both growing like crazy. My concern being, is mulch enough for harsh winters or are we going to have to do more? Please advise or yes i will be that crazy woman out there in 10 degrees with the blow torch clearing the ice away from my now crape myrtle bushes.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 1:14PM
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Great to hear Rae, I am in zone 6 SW Pa. About 60 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. I have been thinking of getting a Crepe Myrtle for a few years now, also. I know winter 2013-2014 was a brutal winter. I have 3 Live oak hybrids that did great winter of 2012-2013, but this past winter 2013-2014 they are just now starting to have bud swell as of May 28 th, 2014. They may not have leafout complete until June 12-14, 2014. They are definitely alive, and going to leaf-out but this past winter really rung their bell, harshly. I am just amazed that they are going to recover eventually.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2014 at 11:21PM
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Glad to hear about all your successes. I have a Tonto CM in my front yard that i planted in early Sept '12, it sailed through the winter of '12-'13 and put on a ton of growth last summer with regular waterings and fertilizer. This past winter as most of you experienced was very brutal here in Pittsburgh, the coldest winter we've had in 20+ years, all through April and most of May i didn't see any signs of life despite warm weather and i was beside myself, just this last 10 days or so my CM is sprouting new shoots up from the roots!!! I live in a suburb of Pittsburgh about 10 miles due south of downtown, so when the northern winds blow inthe winter their warmed up a little from the heat island effect. I also have 2 Sabal Palms planted on the south sunny side of my house and they made it through this past harsh winter and are already growing new fronds. I definately am a zone pusher and with the right skills and knowledge you can grow plants successfully a zone or 2 outta their range.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 12:39PM
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so sad to say winter got mine this year.s central pa

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 11:16PM
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My Live oaks only came back at the trunk level as sprouts this month. The woody part died. You guys are lucky Crepes aren't super huge anyway. Glad for you Rae you have root growth also. Bulldinkie, you likely have root comeback also. Palmnut, you had 2 Sabal palms make it in zone 6b? Did you protect any? I have a spring planted needle palm, I will be protecting it. Have you seen Arctictropical's palms from the Tropicalesque plant forum. This guy had protected a zone 7 palm in zone 4 Utah for several years, it was huge before he stopped protecting it. He made a styrofoam box and wrapped christmas lights around it, it grew 20 + ft before he stopped the yearly protection, he posted pics. You outta look just to see his palms, he has smaller ones I mean zone 8 palms in the ground in his yard in Utah. He has zone 8 bananas he digs up each year. I have a zone 6 banana plant you don't dig up. Musa Basjoo, Lowes had them last year. Sorry, I went off-topic. Here's my Musa Basjoo pic from last summer. That is summer likely later summer, the tomatoes are ripe.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 9:43PM
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@Poaky1, yeah for the Minor i just mulched it a little and put a carboard box over it, for the Palmetto i built a lil cage around it, mulched it a little and put a heavy blanket over top. Not much, but they made it through Winter and it was the coldest we've had since '94, hit -8 a couple times. Both Palms are doing very well now, thy each got 2 fronds developing at the same time, the Myrtle is doing well too.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2014 at 3:20PM
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Palmnut, we got about 8, -10 F nights last winter. I lost the top of my Live oaks, they came back from the lower trunk. They were babies, so they died down to the soil, IOW. I don't have faith in them lasting long in my zone 6, though. Sorry if I already mentioned this, but, I want to try a Crepe tree eventually. I wonder which is the hardiest tree form Crepe, any you recommend?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:19PM
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@Poaky1, I have a Tonto CM in my front yard, this variety is rated to Z6 and gets 10-12 feet tall, it has bright lush dark purplish pink blooms on it, i would recommend it, there are other varieties too that are cold hardy through Z6/7 and CM's bloom just about until the temps get too cold then their done for the year, long enjoyable blooms.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 7:26PM
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My S.Palmetto just today, put on 2 fronds last year, now has 3 going for it, just saw the 3rd one pushing up this morning.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 8:20PM
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My S.Minor, jut starting to put on fan leaves in its 2nd year in the ground here.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 8:21PM
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My CM last year

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 8:23PM
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And the Myrtle so far this year, should be blooming soon, was slow to recover from that harsh winter. Had to build a cage around it cause animals must have been messing with it, branches got busted off.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 8:26PM
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Palmnut, surprised that your Crapes get attacked by animals. I live in 'deer central' and they ignore Crapes completely. My minors were the only in-ground palm that survived last winter. I lost some nice Trachycarpus palms. I even lost some newly planted Crapes, and loquat trees. However, these survived in addition to the Sabal minors...

M. Grandifloras (no issues at all)
Algerian ivy
Dwarf pomegranate
Bay Tree

I thought I would have to replace this Dynamite Crape, but it is fine and in full bloom.

P.S., I think, our ridiculously deep snows (measured in feet) helped the plants with the ridiculous cold temperatures!

This post was edited by njoasis on Fri, Jul 25, 14 at 14:21

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 2:16PM
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I just planted this Natchez Crape Myrtle and it kind of looks sad and the leaves are reddish brownish, any thoughts. We've had some rain so I don't think it's dry.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 3:42PM
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Well, high Summer is not a great time of year to do transplanting for starters...too stressful. Fall planting is much better; otherwise Spring. How often are you watering? Even if they look awful this season, should be okay by the time of next Spring. Don't expect too much of them for this season though.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 4:53PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

From driving around Lancaster County a few weeks ago, at the height of CM bloom season (late this year) it seems like the hardy National Arboretum introductions mostly did fine. Mind you, it was so cold up there there were many burnt leyland cypresses in exposed situations. OTOH, I saw a few old standard CMs that looked like they were sprouting from their bases. This was the coldest winter in 20 years, although in terms of absolute lows it was not too bad, and certainly not as bad as 1994.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2014 at 10:28AM
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I was recently given 4 baby plants. I put them in the most protected spot we have. Time will tell if they even survive, let along thrive. But gardeners are eternal optimists.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2014 at 4:40PM
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