How to grow Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle


Photo - Ngoc Minh Ngo/Gettyimages.com

 

Crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)


We think the Indian Summer crepe myrtles are simply the world’s best summer-flowering trees. Intense flower colour, a long flowering season, good autumn colour, handsome bark and attractive spring foliage mean they enjoyed in all seasons. Each of the Indian Summer cultivars is named after an American Indian tribe, and they range in size from around 3-6m fully grown. Select the height you need so you don’t have to prune which spoils the arching elegance of the mature tree.

 

Description: The 'Indian Summer' range of crepe myrtle consists predominantly of deciduous trees to small shrubs that are robust and very rewarding. Crepe Myrtle's are popular due to their beautiful crepe-paper textured flowers that appear throughout summer. Improved varieties have bigger flower heads and longer flowering period with a resistance to powdery mildew (common to older varieties). Flowers come in a variety of colours, from deep reds, to hot pinks, purples and white.

Foliage: Most varieties colour well in autumn with leaf colours ranging from bright red, deep maroon, vibrant yellow, pink and burnt orange, all on the one tree.

Bark: The bark is also beautiful, exfoliating early summer to revealing bold, gnarled, sinuate and twisted trunk in mottled colours.

Size: Dependent on variety. Range from 8m – 9m high trees to 2m – 3m high shrubs. Width is generally reflective of height. Small shrubs have a width of 1m – 2m and larger trees being 5m – 7m.

Special Comments: Crepe myrtle offers a wide selection of colours, shapes and sizes. Plants are generally very hardy and have multiple uses. Many varieties are also available as bare rooted stock in winter.

Care: Water plants regally until established. Provide well draining, fertile soil that is rich in compost. Plant in a full sun position for best results.

Flowers: Will last from 60 - 90 days depending on the cultivar. When the flower starts to age, cut it immediately below the head so that the shoots down the stem at each leaf can open and the next flower heads can develop. This can be repeated over three to four months. A light prune in autumn or winter (just to remove the finished flowers only) will result in many more flowers next summer.

Use: Plants look outstanding on mass, planted along a fence line or driveway. Crepe myrtle makes a perfect edition to backyards as a single specimen plant and is widely used in council strips and common areas.

Troubleshooting: Past varieties of crepe myrtle are known to be susceptible to powdery mildew. This has been largely corrected due to plant breeding and plant selection. Some varieties can ‘sucker’ and may require maintenance.

Crepe myrtle is often produces as ether a ‘bush’ form or a ‘tree’ form. Bush forms are those that have been left to develop into their natural shape. Little to no pruning is performed in this case. This creates a more natural look, although less flowering heads are produced.

Tree forms are those that have been carefully pruned to provide a more ‘formal’ product. A more distinguished trunk is created through this method. More abundant flower heads develop as a result of pruning.

 

Cultivars



'Acoma'. Pure white flowers. 3m high – 3m wide.



'Biloxi'. Pale Pink flowers. 7m high – 5m wide.



'Lipan’. Lavender flowers. 4m high – 3 wide.



'Natchez'. Superb white flowering. 8m high – 6m wide.



'Sioux’. Hot pink flowers. 4m high – 3m wide.



'Tonto’. Pink to red flowers. 3m high – 3m wide.



'Tuscarora’. Dark fuchsia pink flowers. 6m high - 4m wide.



'Yuma'. lavender flowers. 4m high – 3m wide.

 


'Zuni'. Dark lavender flowers. 4m high – 3m wide.

 


'Fantasy'. White flowers. 9m high – 8m wide


 'Kiowa'. Pure white flowers. 8m high – 7m wide.


'Townhouse'. White flowers. 8m high – 8m wide.

 

Text: Linda Ross

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About this article

Author: Linda Ross

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