Can I grow a crape myrtle indoors as a houseplant? I live in Ohio and bought one on a recent trip down South. -Lois
Crape myrtles aren’t suited for growing as houseplants, because they need a period of winter dormancy as part of their growth and blooming cycle. Bringing them indoors to a year-round warm environment won’t change that cycle, it’ll just make them suffer.
Most crape myrtle varieties are winter hardy to zone 7, which corresponds to a minimum winter temperature of 0° to 10° F. Depending on where you live in Ohio, you may be in zone 5 or 6, where crape myrtles will need some winter protection in order to survive.
Follow these tips with growing crape myrtles in colder climates:
- Bringing Crape Myrtles Indoors: In zones 5-6, you can grow crape myrtles in large containers that you bring in for the winter. However, don’t treat them like houseplants. Instead, wait until the first freeze has killed back the leaves, then move the pot to a sheltered – but cold – location, such as an unheated garage, basement, or shed. Reduce watering to about once a month, stop fertilizing, and let the plant spend the winter dormant. The crape myrtle will look dead, but hang in there! In spring, gradually expose it to the outdoors to wake up slowly. Resume regular watering and fertilizing when you see growth sprouting.
- Find the Right Microclimate: If you’re trying to grow crape myrtles outdoors in a colder zone, plant them in the warmest, most protected spot in your yard to provide a microclimate more suited to their cold tolerance.
- Grow Crape Myrtles as Perennials: In zone 6 (and sometimes zone 5), many crape myrtles can be grown outdoors as perennials, which means they’ll likely die back to the ground over the winter then resprout in spring. Since they’ll never become large, you might want to try this with dwarf varieties that stay low and bushy.
- How to Grow Crape Myrtles (article)
- Understanding Your Planting Zone (article)
- Pushing the Limits of Your Planting Zone (article)
- How to Grow Crape Myrtles from Seed (article)
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