High summer is the season of Crape Myrtles. While many perennials have begun to fade; and blooming shrubs and trees are few and far between, Crape Myrtles are just hitting their stride. From July through September, their lively show of crinkly crepe paper-like flower clusters in an array of whites, pinks, reds and purples are the perfect anecdote to a drab border. Not only do they deliver in bloom, but most varieties also boast fantastic fall color with fiery oranges and reds, in addition to tints of yellow and purple.
Even though we are on the northern edge of their winter hardiness range, Crape Myrtles are ideal plants for our hot summer climate. They thrive in full, hot sun and well-drained soil, and do best with deep, but infrequent soaks once established. Crape Myrtles bloom on new wood, so late winter or early spring is the best time to prune.
Ranging in size from dwarf shrubs around 3-5 feet tall and wide, to 20-foot-tall trees, there are endless possibilities for fitting Crape Myrtles into a landscape. Although naturally occurring as large shrubs, they are often pruned as trees or multi-stemmed specimens, which are the ideal forms for exposing their exquisite bark. With some age, their peeling cinnamon colored outer bark reveals a smooth and burnished surface, adding sophistication to their winter silhouette. This feature is truly the Crape Myrtle's saving grace due to the fact that they are notoriously late to leaf out in the spring. So be patient, because they are well worth the wait come the dog days of summer!
Without a doubt, the Crape Myrtles is a superior solution to the small tree challenge, offering three seasons of interest in a vibrant, heat and drought tolerant package.
Here, sorted by color, are some of the varieties we carry:
White: Natchez - This fast-growing hybrid can get up to 25' tall and 15'+ wide with clear white flowers, fiery fall color, and the most handsome cinnamon colored bark. Enduring Summer White – a dwarf variety, just 4-5’ tall and wide.
Pink: Tuskarora - Bright watermelon pink blossoms (see above) followed by orange-red fall color. 20' tall and 12-15' wide.
Lavender: Muskogee – 22-25’ tall and wide, lavender blue flowers and light gray bark. Zuni – lavender flowers, just 8-10’ tall and wide. Enduring Summer Lavender – a dwarf variety, 4-5’ tall and wide.
Red: Dynamite - Cherry red flowers and bronzy tinted foliage, especially when emerging in the spring. Will reach 15-20' tall and 10-15' wide at maturity. Centennial Spirit – Deep bright red, 14-16’ tall and wide. Petite Embers – magenta red, 4-5’ tall and wide. Enduring Summer Red – scarlet, 4-5’ tall and wide.
Red-Violet: Twilight - A medium sized upright grower to 15' tall and 10' wide. Clusters of reddish-violet blossoms and hot autumn hues, one of the best purple varieties. Catawba - Another reddish-purple blooming variety, with great fall color and a rounded habit reaching 10-15' tall and wide. This L. indica species has good mildew resistance.