was the last time you saw a dead crape
myrtle? It's amazing, isn't it? As long
as we've been involved in the field of
horticulture we've yet to see a dead crape
myrtle. When we consider the durability
and outstanding beauty of the crape myrtle
we will have discovered the reason why
some gardeners and horticulturists consider
it to be the flowering tree of the South.
crape myrtle is of course, no stranger
to Southern gardens. Most people who are
the least bit familiar with landscape
plants will recognize and accurately identify
a crape myrtle. That's because they are
so attractive and so very widely used
in residential, urban and rural landscapes.
Very few trees compare with the flower
color and longevity of bloom period, and
all at a time of year when it's blazing
hot in the South. But the blooms aren't
all. Many crape myrtle stems are also
attractively adorned with a unique exfoliating
(shedding) bark displaying patches of
gray, white, and rust to cinnamon brown
myrtle grows in a wide range of soil types
but prefers a well- drained site. They
grow in heavy clay soil so long as thay
aren't planted in soils that don't drain
well. It's best to plant them in full
sun for best performance. Some shade will
be tolerated, but flowering will likely
list of crape myrtle cultivars to choose
from is a long one and ever-growing. Flower
colors include white and various shades
, pink, lavender, red and purple. Days
in flower range from 75 to 110 depending
on the type selected.
choosing a crape myrtle, consider selecting
one with a flower color that will be complimentary
to the surrounding landscape and with
a mature size that won't outgrow its location.
For example, the ever popular white flowering,
'Natchez', really looks good against a
dark background and has a mature height
of twenty feet or more. On the other hand,
the dark pink blooms of 'Sioux' are featured
on plants that will reach 10 to 20 feet
tall. 'Tonto' is more compact at a mature
size of 10 feet tall with purple-red flowers.
These last two would really stand out
against a light colored wall or fence.
are the dwarfs too. These cute little
crape myrtles grow about 2-4' in height.
We call them "summer azaleas".
Pokomoke, Chickasaw, and Victor Red are
dwarfs that we like.
myrtle is very versatile and easy to grow.
It can be used in formal or informal gardens,
as a specimen, accent or foundation plant.
Maintenance requirements are few and include
moderate fertilization and annual pruning.
That's just about all that is necessary
to keep crape myrtle looking good. For
more details about crape myrtle cultivars
and other helpful information see our
Listing. In the listing you will find
all of the best varieties for our area
'Fariei Hybrids' (with the native American
Indian tribal names) are the best. They
are all powdery mildew resistant, unlike
most of the older varieties, and also
sport some very attractive shedding bark.
of our favorites from the standpoint of
bark are Biloxi, Miami, Natchez, Osage.
is a pale pink, flowered selection prized
by many home landscapers. It is a tall
variety reaching 20 feet in height. The
exfoliating bark reveals a dark brown
is a taller variety reaching 16 feet by
year 12. It produces dark pink blossoms
and dark chestnut-brown inner bark.
is a 21-foot-tall white blooming selection
and a Georgia Gold Medal award winner.
The deep cinnamon brown bark develops
around the fifth year. We use natchez
more in landscape design than any other
is a light pink selection than can be
grown as a large shrub or small tree reaching
12 feet in height. As the bark sheds,
it reveals a mottled chestnut-brown look.
is another attribute many overlook. The
Faurieii Hybrids are also known to have
some of the best leaf coloration in the
fall as the green gives way to burgundy,
orange, red and yellow! You just can't
go wrong with crape myrtles!
year we see crape myrtles that are pruned
too early and hacked all the way back
to the bottom knuckles. There is a better
way to prune them. We've been pruning
crape myrtles now for over 20 years. For
detailed pruning instructions go to Pruning