The steps for growing crape myrtles from seed are as follows:
- Using pots or a seed tray, press two seeds into each pot or cell, no deeper than 1/4 inch
- Cover the surface of the soil with a layer of sphagnum moss
- Mist the moss until damp, not soaked
- Cover the pot or the seed tray with plastic
- Place the plastic-covered pot or tray into a warm, sunny place with temperatures between 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit
- In two weeks, the seeds should sprout. Once they sprout, remove the plastic, but keep watering the seedlings and leave them in a warm location.
- After the seedlings have two sets of leaves, transplant them into a permanent location.
Crape myrtles attract bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators, which are great for sustaining the local ecosystem.
Plus, the showy, lacy blooms range in color from white and pale pink to dark pink and pale purple.
Thus, these trees will add a decorative array to any landscape.
So, in the rest of this article, we will give you all the information you need to grow these beautiful and useful trees from seed.
What Do I Need Before I Begin?
Before you begin, you’ll need:
- Individual pots or a seed tray
- Crape myrtle seeds – these will be small and brown, contained inside the round, pea-sized seed pods.
- Milled sphagnum moss
- A spray bottle/mist bottle
- Sheets of plastic (to cover pots or trays) – garbage bags are easiest
Also, to best mimic the crape myrtles’ natural growth cycle, make sure to begin the planting process in the early spring when the days are longer and warmer.
Thus, you should harvest seeds during the fall when the seed pods mature.
And, as with most plants, freshly harvested seeds will be the easiest to grow.
Read Also >> How to Grow Houseplants from Seed
5 Steps to Grow Crape Myrtle From Seed
Step One: Prepare the Soil
Crape myrtles grow best in more acidic soil, with an ideal pH between 5.0 and 6.5.
But, generally, they will grow well in most soil types, including sandy soil, clay, and other mixtures.
So, a standard potting mix will suffice, or even tropical potting soil, since crape myrtles thrive in hot, humid climates like the southern U.S.
Additionally, you should know that if the soil you purchase isn’t acidic enough, there are supplements – such as sulfur or leaf mold – you can buy that will lower your soil’s pH level.
Step Two: Plant Your Seeds
When sowing your seeds, make sure to plant just two seeds per pot or cell.
Also, ensure you plant the seeds no deeper than 1/4 inch.
Then, once you have them spaced properly, gently press your seeds into the soil.
Next, after planting, place a layer of milled sphagnum moss above the soil between 1/2 inch and 1 inch thick.
Finally, spray with a mist bottle until the moss is damp.
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Step Three: Cover Your Plants
After repeating the planting and moss process for the rest of your pots or seed tray cells, cover the plants with plastic.
Garbage bags are the easiest to use for this part, but you can use other forms of plastic if you wish.
Then, after covering the pots or trays, move them to a warm, sunny place between 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
And, if the temperature ever drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, move the plants inside.
Step Four: Germination
Check under the plastic every few days to look for signs of sprouting.
Generally, seeds will sprout in about two weeks.
And once the seeds sprout, you can remove the plastic.
Then, keep them in a warm and sunny location and water them daily.
Step Five: Transplant Your Seedlings
You will know that your seeds are ready for transplanting when they have two sets of leaves.
And when transplanting the seedlings to a permanent location, make sure it’s far enough into the spring or summer to prevent a late-season frost from killing your seedlings.
Generally, experts suggest waiting until the late summer, when your crape myrtles’ leaves begin to fall, before transplanting.
Additionally, your seedling’s new home should be far enough from any other trees so as not to interfere with nearby root systems.
And, for this step, don’t forget that crape myrtles can grow quite large, up to 25 feet in height and 15 feet in width.
So, keep this in mind when considering how close to plant your crape myrtle near other trees or objects.
Furthermore, make sure taller trees don’t cast too much shade over your seedling’s new home since they require sunny areas.
Then, when you’ve found the perfect spot, dig a hole about the same size as the pot your plant is currently occupying.
Next, add compost to the soil to give your crape myrtle a boost of nutrients.
Now, carefully remove your seedling from its pot by digging at least 4 inches around the seedling.
Digging far away from the actual plant will cut down any chances of damaging the root system.
Finally, place your seedling in the new hole and add mulch and backfill.
Also, remember that after planting, watering is essential, as crape myrtles thrive in well-watered environments.
However, be sure not to flood your tree.
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Can Crape Myrtles Live Anywhere?
Crape myrtles thrive in hardiness zones 7 – 10.
Thus, while they do well enough during the summer in hardiness zone 6, they’re more likely to die or sustain permanent damage during hard winters.
For the most part, crape myrtles prefer hot and humid environments with lots of rain, such as the southern U.S.
Crape myrtles are not difficult trees to grow as long as you give them enough care and can provide them with the correct environment.