Crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia spp.) are a large group of plants desirable for their long panicles of brightly colored, long-lasting flowers. They range from small shrubs to tall trees. Because of this, the length of time it takes for a myrtle to grow to maturity varies. All crapemyrtles, however, grow at a medium-to-fast rate, which is defined as 1 to 2 feet or more of growth per year.
Lagerstroemia indica is the most commonly cultivated species in the United States. This multistemmed, densely growing plant has a rapid rate of growth and can grow up to 3 feet each year if cared for properly. This myrtle, like all myrtles, thrives in full sunlight and moist but well-draining soils. It has a maximum height of between 15 to 30 feet, which means it will take between about five to 10 years to reach maturity.
The largest crapemyrtles are usually single-trunk types. They are trained to grow as trees and can reach heights of over 40 feet, although most average between 20 and 30 feet. It takes these trees between 10 and 20 years or longer to grow to maturity. "Natchez" is a cultivar of L. fauriei that grows to 20 feet and features white flowers and heavily peeling bark. Others include "Balsam's Party Pink," which can grow to an astonishing 50 feet in height, and "Choctaw," which features bright pink flowers and an average height of about 20 feet. "Choctaw" is considered the best tree cultivar, according to Auburn University's College of Agriculture website, which notes its resistance to mildew.
Medium crapemyrtles are grown as either small trees or large, multistemmed shrubs. They have an average height of between 10 and 20 feet, meaning it takes these trees between five (for the fastest-growing cultivars) and 20 (for those with a medium rate of growth) years to reach their maximum heights. "Regal Red" is a fast-growing cultivar with exceptional flowering. "Yuma" is very hardy, grows at a medium rate and features lavender blooms.
Semidwarf cultivars reach maturity at between 5 and 10 feet, so the fastest growers will be at their maximum level after only two or three years of growth, while others may take up to 10 years. "Caddo" is a low, spreading form that reaches maturity quickly. It features long-lasting, bright pink flowers. "Zuni" has a rounded canopy, purple flowers and bright, red-orange fall color. It grows to an average height of 7 feet at a medium rate of growth.
The shortest crapemyrtles take the least amount of time to grow, simply due to their small sizes. They average between 3 to 5 feet tall and reach maturity in as little as one growing season. "Centennial" has very bright, attractive purple flowers. "Victor" is considered the best dwarf form, according to Auburn University's College of Agriculture website. It will bloom all summer long with dark red blooms.
April Sanders is a writer, teacher and the mother of three boys. Raised on an organic farm, she is an avid gardener and believes that good growth starts with a rich, supportive foundation -- a philosophy that serves her well in both gardening and teaching. Sanders has written for Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, Smarted Balanced, PARCC and others.