Wax Myrtle vs. Crepe Myrtle

Written by Em Casalena
Published: October 22, 2022
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Wax myrtles and crepe myrtles are independent genera of trees and shrubs with extremely different physical characteristics and cultural requirements, despite the fact that they may have similar popular names. The genus Lagerstroemia, which is a member of the plant family Lythraceae, is where crepe myrtles are found. The genus Myrica, which is a member of the plant family Myricaceae, is where evergreen wax myrtles are found.

Despite their distinctions, both tree and shrub genera are beneficial additions to anyone’s yard, granted you’re in the appropriate growing zone. They have lightning-quick growth rates, which makes them perfect for quickly creating a stunning landscape. However, in order to choose which species is best for your space, it’s imperative to comprehend the main distinctions between these two types of trees. So let’s explore wax myrtle vs. crepe myrtle!

Comparing Wax Myrtle vs. Crepe Myrtle

Wax MyrtleCrepe Myrtle
ClassificationMorella ceriferaLagerstroemia indica
Alternative NamesCandleberryCrape Myrtle
OriginEastern to southeastern United States, Mexico, Central America, the CaribbeanChina, North and South Korea
DescriptionA fast-growing evergreen shrub with light green foliage and a sharp scent. Can reach up to 20 feet in height and have multiple trunks.A fast-growing deciduous shrub known for its beautiful indigo flowers and thin bark. Can reach up to 20 feet in height and have multiple trunks.
UsesCan be used for landscaping and as an ornamental tree. The wax-like coating of its fruit is often used for making soap and candles.The tree’s hard wood can be used as timber.
Growth TipsPlant in full sun or part sun. Moist soil should be used. Always prune during the growing season to encourage branching.Plant in full sun. Can grow in most types of soil, though they do not do well in very moist soil and prefer well-drained soil. Fertilize every few weeks starting in spring through the summer months.
Interesting FeaturesCan be planted in sand due to its salt tolerance. Wax harvested from its fruit is spicy in fragrance.Makes beautiful blooms when grown properly. Flowers are pink with a wrinkly, crepe paper-like texture.

The Key Differences Between Wax Myrtle and Crepe Myrtle

Wax Myrtle
Wax myrtle is an evergreen tree which can reach 25 feet tall, although it is typically much smaller

Max myrtles and crepe myrtles are very different plants. As mentioned earlier, they are from completely different genera, though they are both used for landscaping purposes and can grow in similar climates.

An evergreen tree, the wax myrtle can reach a height of 20 to 25 feet, but it usually stays considerably smaller. The alternating, light olive-green leaves have serrated margins, a pungent, spicy scent when crushed, and yellow resin spots on both surfaces.

The crepe myrtle is a deciduous tree with a quick growth rate that can grow as tall as 40 feet. The dwarf crepe myrtle bush tends to stay around 10 feet. The attraction of this plant is that it blooms when most trees aren’t. If the plant is healthy, the warmest portion of the summer will find it covered in blossoms that persist for months.

Wax Myrtle vs. Crepe Myrtle: Origin & Habitat

Crepe myrtles grow in many different places in the United States, though they are native to Asia. Wax myrtles, on the other hand, are native to the eastern United States, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Wax myrtle can be grown successfully in ordinary, medium-to-wet soils in full sun to dappled or part shade in USDA Zones 7 to 11, where it is winter hardy. Even the illusive dry shade supports its growth. Wax myrtle is beneficial in wetlands or restoration gardens, in wet or shaded areas, or on a bank for erosion prevention. It is native to marshes, woodlands, swamps, and fresh to brackish streams in North Carolina.

USDA Zones 7 to 9 are suitable for growing crepe myrtles. Although it loves wet, well-drained soil and full sunlight, it will grow in practically any type of soil, including sand, loam, and clay. Although this plant may be easily transplanted and is resistant to both drought and alkaline conditions, it does have insect and disease issues. If they receive the necessary watering and fertilization, you may even grow them in containers. Although they may tolerate little shade, plants that get more than six hours of direct sunlight will flower the best. If the temperature falls below freezing, their leaves could turn brown and fall off. Although they are not as tolerant to saline soil as wax myrtles, crepe myrtles can endure drought.

Wax Myrtle vs. Crepe Myrtle: Description

The showy flowers of crepe myrtles, which bloom in the summer with enormous, rosy-purple, white, or pink blossoms with crinkled, crepelike petals, are the reason they are grown. Wax myrtles are grown for their attractive, aromatic foliage and berries, which are advantageous to local fauna. They also bear inconspicuous flowers. In their winter diet, birds rely on the wax myrtle fruits as a source of fat and fiber. Fruits from wax myrtles have a waxy exterior that is used to create candles.

Wax myrtles comprise evergreen and semi-evergreen shrubs and trees, whilst crepe myrtles are a collection of deciduous trees and shrubs. Evergreen wax myrtle leaves have a smell when crushed and do not change color in the fall. Until the first hard frost of the season, crepe myrtles’ beautifully colored foliage is available in the fall.

Wax Myrtle vs. Crepe Myrtle: Uses

Wax myrtles produce fruits that are covered in a waxy coating. This wax-like substance can be used for making candles or soaps and boasts a delightfully refreshing pine-like spicy scent.

Crepe myrtles as well as wax myrtles are utilized as specimen plants or in mass plantings, but crepe myrtles are particularly popular for this use because they have eye-catching blooms and autumn foliage. When used as a dense hedge or a natural screen, wax myrtles work effectively. A little trimming is necessary for either family of trees or shrubs, and size management is the fundamental reason for pruning. They frequently produce suckers that must be removed when they show up. These suckers from wax and crepe myrtles can be used to grow new bushes and trees if desired.

Wax Myrtle vs. Crepe Myrtle: How To Grow

Wax myrtle and crepe myrtle have slightly different soil and other requirements. While crepe myrtles need full sun to flower, wax myrtles can thrive in sun to partial shade. Although they can withstand dry soil, crepe myrtles cannot stand salty water close to the ocean. Wax myrtles make great beach plants since they can withstand sand, sun, salt spray, and dryness. They may also provide more fruit when grown in poor soils.

Evergreen wax myrtle can be planted at any time but does best in the early spring. If you’re wondering when to plant crepe myrtle, they can also be planted in early spring. However, they can be planted virtually at any time, given how hardy they are. Just make sure that the final frost of the season has passed before planting your crepe myrtle. Crepe myrtle bush size can reach up to 20 feet tall and wide, so be sure to plant them a few feet apart.

Wax Myrtle vs. Crepe Myrtle: Special Features

Crepe Myrtle

Crepe myrtle has gorgeous pink flowers with distinctive crumpled petals.


The wax myrtle can withstand salt, heat, and drought. Additionally, they are immune to disease, insects, and deer damage. These bushes are typically dioecious and need both male and female flowers to produce nice berries. In order to thrive in deficient soils, it fixes atmospheric nitrogen, a unique trait found in other trees in its genus. Surprisingly, wax myrtles are actually regarded as potential fire threats in some regions due to the presence of flammable aromatic chemicals in the leaves, stems, and branches. They shouldn’t be planted inside your home or too close to buildings because of this.

The gorgeous pink flowers of the crepe myrtle feature petals that are crumpled and resemble crepe paper. Dark green in the summer, the leaves turn yellow, orange, and crimson in the fall. Breeding efforts have been made to combine the red, flaky bark and resistance to powdery mildew of the Japanese crepe myrtle Lagerstroemia fauriei with the original crepe myrtle Lagerstroemia indica. This breeding effort has produced the majority of the modern novel types available on the market.

In conclusion, wax myrtles may be the best pick for your landscaping needs if you have a large plot of land near or on a beach due to the hardiness of the plant. If you’re looking for something more decorative, the crepe myrtle may be a better alternative, though it is a bit pickier in terms of soil content, drainage requirements, and sunlight exposure. Either way, these two myrtles are gorgeous trees that can add a touch of color and elegance to any property.

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/eddiesimages


  1. North Carolina State Extension, Available here: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/myrica-cerifera/
  2. North Carolina State Extension, Available here: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/lagerstroemia-indica/
  3. Home Guides, Available here: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/difference-between-wax-myrtles-crape-myrtles-67175.html
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About the Author

Em Casalena is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on plants, gardening, and sustainability. Em has been writing and researching about plants for nearly a decade and is a proud Southwest Institute of Healing Arts graduate and certified Urban Farming instructor. Em is a resident of Arizona and enjoys learning about eco-conscious living, thrifting at local shops, and caring for their Siamese cat Vladimir.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are wax myrtles and crepe myrtles part of the same genera?

No. Wax myrtles and crepe myrtles have completely different genus classifications and plant families.

Can wax myrtles and crepe myrtles grow in the same hardiness zones?

Yes, but wax myrtles can grow in more zones than crepe myrtles. Wax myrtles can grow in plant hardiness zones 7 through 11, while crepe myrtles can grow in plant hardiness zones 7 through 9 in the United States.

Can both wax myrtles and crepe myrtles be used for landscaping?

Yes. Both of these trees make excellent decorative trees, as they both boast aesthetically pleasing flowers. They can tolerate salt fairly well, making them both idea for beaches.

Is crepe myrtle deciduous or evergreen?

Crepe myrtles are deciduous.

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