The deciduous crape myrtle is among the longest blooming trees in existence with flowering periods lasting from 60-120 days. Crapes come in heights as short as 18 in (46 cm) and as tall as 40 ft (12 m). Leaves are alternate and smooth, but leaf size depends on variety. Flowers are borne in summer in big showy clusters and come in white and many shades of pink, purple, lavender and red. The fruits that follow are brown or black. When mature they dry and split releasing disk shaped seeds. Depending on variety, crapes grow as large shrubs or as trees that may be either upright or spreading. Large varieties are very fast growing and can put on several feet in a single growing season. Many types have interesting bark that exfoliates in thin flakes exposing lovely cinnamon or gray inner bark. Crapes tend to produce many suckers that should be removed as they appear if you want to maintain them as trees with distinct trunks. They are enthusiastic reseeders so you may find yourself pulling up baby crapes throughout the summer.
This is the first true red tree form crape myrtle. Cherry red flowers in full sun and hot conditions. (Clouds or shade will reduce red intensity and flecks of white may appear.) New growth is crimson, then green. Upright form to 15 feet. High mildew resistance but may develop anthactnose (yellowing leaves) under severe conditions.
Culture Crape myrtle likes moist soil, where it will grow exceedingly fast, but it tolerates dry conditions once established. It has been standard practice to cut trees back to large branches or even the trunk in winter. This distorts the appearance of the tree tremendously. Such massacre results in thin, arching stems and completely destroys the architectural beauty of the free growing crape myrtle. Pruning is recommended only to remove overly dense branches and crossing limbs. Cutting off old flower heads in summer can promote a second and third round of flowering, though. Over fertilizing creates abundant foliage at the expense of blooms. Crape myrtles are a magnet for aphids, upon whose excrement sooty mold grows. This can give the leaves a gray, sooty coating that is not harmful, but is unsightly. Control aphids with a soapy water solution. (Crapes are actually used around commercial nurseries to attract aphids away from other plants!) Light Good sun.
Moisture Moist, well drained soil. Hardiness USDA Zones 7-9. In general, trees are extremely vigorous and hardy. Newer varieties are extending the range - check with your local garden center for crapes that survive in colder zones. Propagation By cuttings from medium wood in early fall or hard wood in winter. Also
by seed. Easy to root.
Image Credit: Treeland Nursery
Aventura Nursery and Landscape, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org 10079 County Line Rd. Spring Hill, FL 34608 18332 Ayers Rd. Brooksville, FL 34604 (352) 799-3200 (352) 799-3260