Late summer is the season of Crepe Myrtles. When many perennials have petered out; and blooming shrubs and trees are few and far between, Crepe Myrtles are just getting started. 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 hardiness range, Crape Myrtles are ideal for our hot summer climate. They prefer full, hot sun and well draining soil, and do best with deep, but infrequent soaks once established. Crepe 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 Crepe 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 Crepe 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 dregs of summer. Without a doubt, the Crepe Myrtles is a superior solution to the small tree challenge, offering three seasons of interest in a vibrant, heat and drought tolerant package.
Some of the varieties we usually carry are:
'Tuskarora' - A L. indica x L. fauriei hybrid reaching about 20' tall and 12-15' wide. Bright watermelon pink blossoms followed by orange-red fall color.
'Dynamite' - Another hybrid with cherry red flowers and bronzy tinted foliage, especially when emerging in the spring. Will reach 15-20' tall and 10-15' wide at maturity, pictured at top
Lagerstroemia 'Natchez', bark detail below
'Natchez' - This faster growing hybrid can get up to 25' tall and 15'+ wide with clear white flowers and fiery fall color and the most handsome cinnamon colored bark.
'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.
'Siren Red' - This hybrid boasts some of the most saturated dark red flowers that are less likely to fade with cool, cloudy weather than other red varieties. Handsome burgundy edged, dark green foliage throughout the season turning red-orange in fall, great mildew resistance and a smaller, upright habit of 10' tall and 5' wide.
'Petite Plum' and 'Petite Embers' - Selections from the L. indica 'Petite' series, these dwarf shrubs will get about 5' tall and 4' wide. They have vivid pinkish-purple and bright magenta-red blooms respectively, with yellow fall foliage.