Celebrate Crape Myrtles

East Texas has bragging rights to Azaleas, which require acidic soil and regular moisture.  We certainly can’t grow Azaleas here, but boy, can we grow Crape Myrtles in Central and North Texas.

In 2006, after we had been here a year, we built a long flowerbed.  At one end we planted Three Dynamite Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Dynamite’).

These were chosen because I wanted the deepest red possible.  Interestingly, the flowers are red with some coral shades.

Wild Crape Myrtles come from Asia.  Growers tried to develop intense deep flower colors, but true red flowers were always elusive. Finally in 1997, after years of intense breeding, Dr. Carl Whitcomb introduced Dynamite®, the first crape myrtle with true red flowers.

The leaves tend to be coppery green.  Another characteristic of Crape Myrtles are their multi-trunks, which are smooth.  Sometimes it’s necessary to cut out trunks to keep the number to three or five.

Crape Myrtles come in different colors, sizes, and hardiness.  Texas A & M provides good resources for that information.

This Victor Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica ‘Victor’) is a dwarf that was planted in 2013 in a different flowerbed.  It has not thrived, probably because surrounding plants have encroached.

Crape Myrtles can be Weeping, Dwarfs, Semi Dwarfs, Small Trees or Trees.  Colors run the gamut of pinks and red.  There are also whites and purples.

In 2012, two Basham’s Party Pink Crapemyrtles (Lagerstoemia indica x fauriei ‘Bashan’s Party Pink’) were planted.  Those are the tall ones.

Another good site for Crapemyrtle information is from Florida.

Basham’s Party Pink are the tallest Crapemyrtles of all.  They can grow 30 – 40 feet tall and 15 – 20 ft. wide.  Don’t think we left enough space here.

They did not bloom for four years, so I wondered if they would make it.  But, hooray, they’ve bloomed two years in a row.

In the July/August 2017 edition of the Texas Gardener magazine, there is an article on a new pest attacking our beloved Crapemyrtles.  The bark scale is in East Texas, but I haven’t seen any sign of it in this area.  One site does give instructions to help control it.  Start the procedures in the fall to protect your trees.

In 2015, two Centennial Spirit Crape Myrtles were planted in that small corner where the soil is extremely rocky.  They are definitely struggling, but surviving.

Crape Myrtles should be fertilized only in the spring before they bloom.

Then, growers came out with novelty Crape Myrtles.  This one is Black Diamond.  The new growth has green leaves, so the whole plant may revert to its rootstock color.

This was bought last spring and really, really must be planted in the ground.  Got to find a place this fall.

Last May we attended the Festival of Flowers in San Antonio.  The speakers were excellent.  In the sales area, these “Alamo Fire” Red Crepe Myrtle grabbed my attention.  They were developed by a friend of the man selling them.

By the way, there doesn’t seem to be any consistency for the spelling of Crape Myrtle or if it is one word or two.  Note the spelling in the above paragraph.

Breeders are spending lots of time hybridizing new varieties.  The market remains wide open in Texas.

This color has definitely become my favorite.

Right after these three were planted, they started blooming.  Then something ate the flowers and leaves.  Jackrabbits, I suspect because they are permanently ensconced in our yard.  Anyway, these metal cages have worked to keep out the culprits.

More info about Crapemyrtles on Plant Answers.

Give these beauties full sun and just enjoy.  But do not commit Crape Murder (cutting all the branches off in winter).

“Some people think I’m going crazy.  The joke is on them.  I went there three years ago, fell in love with the place, and decided to stay there.”  unknownSave

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