Dwarf Crepe Myrtle Bonsai Care [Lagerstroemia indica]

Every Bonsai tree has a unique characteristic that distinguishes it from others. For a Dwarf Crepe Myrtle Bonsai, it is its excellent branch formation and its natural miniature structure (although there are some much larger species) which makes it suitable for small spaces, ground cover, containers, and most importantly a perfect species for Bonsai.

Growing a Dwarf Crepe Myrtle Bonsai is easy and faster, and that is why it’s one of the top choices for Bonsai gardeners. Here in this article, details will be shared on how best to plant a Dwarf Crepe Myrtle Bonsai as well as every other fact relating to this species. So read on!

Scientific NameLagerstroemia indica
Height182 to 762 cm
Spread182 to 609 cm
Bloom TimeJuly to September
Flowering colorRose to red
Popular inChina, Indochina, Himalayas, Japan
Watering needsModerate
Sun requirementFull sun
Maintenance levelMedium

Can you Bonsai a Crepe Myrtle?

Yes, you can Bonsai a Crepe Myrtle. Crepe Myrtle is an excellent tree for a Bonsai because some varieties of the plant species naturally have stunted growth which is the original purpose for growing a Bonsai in the first place.

Broadleaf Bonsai: Working on a Crepe Myrtle Bonsai

Unlike other Bonsai trees that need to be printed and trimmed regularly so they don’t overgrow, Crepe myrtle does not need to be pruned before it forms the shape of a Bonsai. Therefore, with a Dwarf crepe myrtle Bonsai (specifically), you already have a good head start to create that artistic Bonsai impression you aim for.

Dwarf Crepe Myrtle Bonsai history

Dwarf Crepe Myrtle is a variant of the Crepe Myrtle tree with over 50 species. Usually 2 to 4.5m in height, smaller in size than the common Crepe Myrtle but bigger than the miniature crepe myrtle species.

The Crepe myrtle roots originated from China where it was initially known as “Pai Jih Hung” which means “hundred days red”. A name born out of the exquisite colors and all-year blossoms that characterizes the growth of a typical crepe myrtle. They also call it ” the monkey tree” because monkeys find it difficult to climb the tree owing to its slippery and smooth trunks.

The English name Myrtle the tree is popularly called is as a result of its Myrtle-like leaves as well as its creased tissue that looks like petals. The crepe myrtle has been cultivated in the united states for over a century and a half. It was recently discovered that the crepe myrtle can into the USA by way of Norfolk.

For over 25 years, late Dr. Donald Egolf researched how to cross-breed Crepe Myrtle species which led to the origination of the series of new hybrids like the Dwarf crepe myrtle and others which has proven to be hardier, vigorous, and disease resistant.

Dwarf Crepe myrtle Bonsai tree scientific name

The scientific name of a Dwarf Crepe Myrtle is Lagerstroemia indica

Dwarf Crepe Myrtle Bonsai symbolism

Every Bonsai tree has a particular meaning attached to it. And people use them to convey certain feelings, emotions, and messages. Therefore, before you plant a Bonsai tree, make sure you know what it symbolizes so that you don’t give people the wrong impression about you.

A crepe myrtle Bonsai symbolizes love, longevity, good fortune, and beauty: and that is why in many societies, Crepe myrtle is seen as a symbol of marriage. The flowers on crepe myrtle are considered to be from the gods, a Greek goddess of love called Aphrodite.

Up till today, people still hold on to the belief that cultivating a Crepe myrtle will bring about love, peace, and fortune within the family.

Dwarf Crepe Myrtle indoors or outdoor?

Your Dwarf crepe myrtle can be raised both outdoors and indoors. However, as a general rule, the crepe myrtle is best raised outdoors because the winter dormancy is necessary for their growth as well as their blooming cycle. Raising them indoors will deprive them of such benefits and sometimes they may suffer the consequences.

And as for the Dwarf Crepe Myrtle, a crepe myrtle variant known for its miniaturized form which is mostly as a result of prolonged hybridization and breeding; it is better raised indoor because they are naturally meant to be raised in small spaces and containers.

Although when cultivating your Bonsai indoors, you must be very conversant of all requirements regarding the temperature, fertilizers, pruning, and many others for you to have a healthy tree. Refer to the next section of this article for all you need to know about the proper care of a Dwarf crepe myrtle Bonsai.

Dwarf Crepe Myrtle Bonsai care

Most Crepe Myrtle species are best raised outdoors because every prevailing temperature works to their advantage. They need a certain amount of winter cold as well as some level of summer hotness to grow healthily.

Dwarf crepe myrtle is one of the most Bonsai species of the crepe myrtle variant and must be treated equally as other members of the family if it is to be raised successfully. Explained below are some of the care necessary for the survival of a Dwarf crepe Bonsai indoors.

Dwarf Crepe Myrtle Bonsai temperature

For a Dwarf crepe Myrtle Bonsai to be successfully raised indoors, the indoor temperature level must be between 45 to 54° during the winter to stimulate dormancy for the tree to cast off its leaves. If it is left exposed to both warm temperature and inadequate light (the common indoor temperature during winter), it may slow down the growth rate of your Dwarf crepe myrtle. If cultivated under this condition (warm temperature and low light) all year round, it may be difficult for your dwarf Crepe Bonsai to drop its leaves thereby making it difficult to grow new ones.

Dwarf Crepe Myrtle Bonsai tree fertilizer

A Dwarf crepe myrtle bonsai does not need excessive fertilizers to germinate, therefore it must be applied moderately and according to instructions. When you over-fertilize a Dwarf crepe Bonsai, it will reduce its blooming; forcing it to make use of its energy to improve the growth of its foliage.

Instead, fertilizers should be applied every 2 weeks mostly during spring-autumn, taking turns between Bonsai food or general-purpose tree food and low nitrogen fertilizer.

Dwarf Crepe Myrtle Bonsai pruning and trimming

The technique for pruning a Dwarf Crepe Myrtle is different from the methods used for other taller crepe myrtle species. These techniques will be explained below.

Guideline for pruning

Fortunately, you don’t have to prune your Dwarf crepe myrtle because they exhibit a slower growth rate compared to other taller members of the Crepe myrtle family; and as a result, they are readily shaped for a Bonsai. But regardless, you should carry out light pruning on them at least once a year.

If your tree is full and thick, you can leave them or you can make use of hand pruners to clip off flowers or seeds heads from last season.

When to prune

Pruning in Winter

The best time to prune your Dwarf myrtle is towards the end of winter or during spring before new leaves start to form or right after its formation. You should remove all broken branches disfiguring the shape of the dwarf myrtle at any time during the season.

Pruning in Summer

You can cut off faded flowers during flowering seasons so they can regrow within the time between summer and fall. To get rid of dying flower clusters, clip them off at their base using a hand pruner.

How to prune a Dwarf Crepe myrtle

If you have a young Dwarf myrtle with scattered branches, but with narrow spaces between each, then it is due for pruning so that it can grow a little dense. Follow the step below to guide you through the pruning process.

  1. Cut the long branches back, using bypass hand pruners making sure the cut is 1 quarter of its height.
  2. The stem should be cut in such a way that the tree will form a perfectly round shape when the foliage starts to develop again. That is, do not give the tree a flat top.

Dwarf crepe myrtle Bonsai repotting

You should repot your Dwarf crepe myrtle every 1-3 years. This should be done in early spring before it starts blooming under light and in suitably drained soil with nominal stem cutting.

Dwarf crepe myrtle Bonsai pest and diseases

Dwarf crepe myrtle as well as every other crepe myrtle species are susceptible to aphids and scales and powdery mildews. Check below for details on how to control these pests.

How to prevent aphids and scales

  1. Make a solution from the mixtures of a quarter of warm water and one tablespoon of dishwashing soap.
  2. Pour the solution in a spray bottle and spray generously on the tree until you achieve a runoff (avoid spraying the flowers because they will change to brown).
  3. Rinse the spraying bottle with water then repeat the process if necessary.

How to prevent powdery Mildews

  1. Avoid too firm branching.
  2. Do not overwater the tree.
  3. Make room for proper ventilation.
  4. Ensure the tree is supplied with enough light.

Dwarf crepe myrtle Bonsai soil

Just like most other Crepe myrtle species, the dwarf crepe myrtle can be planted in various kinds of soils. They will even grow well in clay soils. However, Dwarf crepe myrtle is best planted in moist and suitably drained soil.

The soil can be acidic or slightly acidic and within the range of 5.0 to 6.5. pH.

Dwarf crepe myrtle watering

Dwarf crepe myrtle is best planted in drained soil and must be watered sufficiently during the spring and moderately over the remaining years. Watering should be reduced during winter to facilitate bud formation.

Dwarf crepe myrtle sunlight requirements

Dwarf crepe myrtle must be exposed to full light for at least 6 hours or more every day. Anything less could cause your tree to have a sterile bloom and dull colors.

How fast does Dwarf crepe myrtle Bonsai grow?

The growth rate of a dwarf crepe myrtle varies. Some may experience rapid growth while some may exhibit a medium growth depending on how well it’s treated. The general growth rate of a dwarf crepe myrtle is 1 to 2 feet a year.

How tall does a Dwarf crepe myrtle get?

A dwarf crepe myrtle could get as tall as 4 feet or less.

Does Dwarf crepe myrtle have invasive roots?

No, Dwarf crepe myrtle does not have invasive roots.

Can crepe myrtle Bonsai survive winter?

Yes, crepe myrtle will survive winter. Winter is an essential part of the growth cycle of a Dwarf Myrtle Bonsai, therefore it will outlive the cold season as long as you implement the care requirements relating to the weather as stated earlier.

How to protect Dwarf crepe myrtle Bonsai tree in winter

Although Dwarf myrtle is hardy when exposed to severe winter, it could cause them to wither. Discussed below are a few useful tips on how to keep your Dwarf myrtle going during winter

  1. Make use of use of fertilizers to invigorate the hardiness of your tree and strengthen its roots during winter. The best fertilizer to use is the general-purpose fertilizer.
  2. Apply at least a 3-inch layer of mulch to get the roots insulated against cold.
  3. Wrap young/small Dwarf myrtle up with Burlap around the branches then follow it up with insulating fillers like leaves or straw. Or you can use a Bush jacket.

How to grow Dwarf Crepe myrtle from seed

In this section, I will provide useful tips on how to plant a Dwarf crepe myrtle from seed. Carefully read the guidelines provided below to guide you through the process

  1. In a regular-sized pot press the seed into a wet potting mix.
  2. Then pour a thin layer of sphagnum moss and gently place the pot into a plastic clear bag.
  3. Take the pot into a warm room with sufficient light under a temperature of 75°F.

The seed should start to germinate within 2 to 3 weeks.

How to grow Dwarf Crepe myrtle Bonsai from cuttings

You can grow a Dwarf crepe myrtle with either softwood or hardwood cuttings follow the steps below to guide you through the processes involved.

  1. Get cuttings during summer or spring. Cut the stem where it meets the main branch. The cuttings should be 6 to 8 inches in length and about 3 to 4 nodes cuttings.
  2. All leaves should be removed leaving behind just 2 to 3 leaves.
  3. Dip the end of each cutting into rooting hormones.
  4. The cuttings must be placed in a pot containing wet soil and potting mix of 7.5 to 10 cm deep.
  5. Then cover the pot with a plastic bag to keep it moisturized.

It should start rooting within 4 to 8 weeks.

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