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Crape Myrtle Tree vs Bush: The Differences (with Pictures)

crape myrtle tree vs bush

The crape myrtle is a beautiful flowering tree that is native to Asia. The tree has been cultivated in the United States for over 200 years and is now a common sight in many Southern states.

The main difference between the crape myrtle tree and the bush is the height, with the tree being the taller of the two. However, if you want to know more details about each of them, read on!

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Overview of Crape Myrtle Tree

crape myrtle tree
Image By: meteorite, Shutterstock

Crape myrtles come in a wide range of sizes, from 2–3 feet tall shrubs to 30–40 feet tall trees. The flowers can be white, pink, or purple, and they bloom in the summertime. The leaves of the crape myrtle are simple and alternate, meaning they grow on opposite sides of the stem. The leaves are usually green, but some varieties have red or purple foliage.


  • Beautiful addition to a yard
  • Excellent shade-producing tree
  • Roots will not damage buildings or walkways
  • Tree is not pest-resistant
  • Not cold-tolerant

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Overview of Crape Myrtle Bush

Crape myrtle bush
Image By: Zoya El, Shutterstock

The crape myrtle bush is a shrub that typically grows to be about 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It has a rounded shape and produces small flowers in the summertime. Depending on the crape myrtle bush you have, the flowers can be pink, red, purple, or white. The leaves of the crape myrtle bush are dark green and turn a burgundy color in the fall.

The crape myrtle bush is a popular landscaping plant because it is low-maintenance and drought-tolerant. It can be pruned to create different shapes, and it can also be used as a hedge or border plant.


  • Drought-tolerant
  • Great plant to use for privacy barriers
  • Takes more trimming and maintenance than the tree

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Trees vs Bushes

One of the main differences between crape myrtle trees and bushes is their size. A crape myrtle tree can grow to be 30 feet (9 m) tall, while a bush only grows to be about 6–8 feet (1.8–2.4 m) tall.

Crape myrtle trees also have a trunk, whereas bushes do not. The trunk of a crape myrtle tree can be up to 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter. Bushes, on the other hand, have many stems that come out from the ground and are not as thick as a tree’s trunk.

Crape myrtle trees produce flowers that are typically larger than those of a crape myrtle bush. The flowers of a crape myrtle tree can be up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, while the flowers of a bush are usually only about 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide.

In terms of foliage, crape myrtle trees and bushes can both lose their leaves in the fall. However, the leaves of a crape myrtle tree are typically larger than those of a bush. The leaves of a crape myrtle tree can be up to 8 inches (20 cm) long, while the leaves of a bush are usually only about 4 inches (10 cm) long.

One final difference between crape myrtle trees and bushes is that trees can live for many years, while bushes typically only live for around 10 years.

This is due to the fact that trees are able to grow taller and have thicker trunks, which makes them more resistant to wind and other elements. Bushes, on the other hand, are shorter and have thinner stems, which makes them more susceptible to damage from wind and other elements.

crape myrtle bush
Image By: Richard L. Bowman, Shutterstock

Which Is Right for You?

If you’re planning to add one of these lovely flowering plants to your yard, you may be wondering whether to choose a crape myrtle tree or bush. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to consider your needs before making a decision.

Crape myrtle trees are typically larger than bushes, growing up to 30 feet tall (though some varieties stay shorter). They also have a more spreading habit, with multiple trunks emerging from the ground. This can give them a bit of an unkempt look, but pruning can help control their shape.

Bushes, on the other hand, are smaller, usually topping out at around 10 feet. They also have a more compact growth habit, with just one main trunk. This makes them neater and easier to care for than trees.

So, which is right for you? If you’re looking for a smaller plant that will be easy to care for, go with a crape myrtle bush. If you don’t mind a little extra work in exchange for a larger plant, go with a tree.

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The crape myrtle tree versus bush debate is one that largely depends on personal preference. Some people prefer the look of a tall, stately tree in their yard, while others like the more compact size and easier maintenance of a bush. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the colorful blooms and easy care of these beautiful plants!

Featured Image Credit: (L) Noel V. Baebler, Shutterstock | (R) zzz555zzz, Shutterstock


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