Crape myrtles (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 crape myrtles, however, grow at a medium-to-fast rate, which is defined as 1 to 2 feet or more of growth per year.
Growth Rate of Common Crape Myrtles
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 soil. 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.
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Growth of Single-Trunk Crape Myrtles
The largest crape myrtles 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 Lagerstroemia fauriei that grows to 20 feet and features white flowers and heavily peeling bark. Others include Lagerstroemia fauriei 'Balsam's Party Pink,' which can grow to an astonishing 50 feet in height, and Lagerstroemia fauriei '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.
Growth Rate of Shrubs and Small Trees
Medium crape myrtles 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. Lagerstroemia indica 'Regal Red' is a fast-growing cultivar with exceptional flowering. Lagerstroemia indica 'Yuma' is very hardy, grows at a medium rate and features lavender blooms.
Fast-Maturing Semidwarf and Dwarf Crape Myrtles
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. Lagerstroemia indica × fauriei 'Caddo' is a low, spreading form that reaches maturity quickly. It features long-lasting, bright pink flowers. Lagerstroemia indica × fauriei '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 crape myrtles 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. Lagerstroemia indica 'Centennial' has very bright, attractive purple flowers. Lagerstroemia indica '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.