Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Tuesday's Trees- Crape Myrtle
This week's tree is a very versatile plant...both tree and shrub depending on variety. Once again our friend Les at A Tidewater Gardener did a wonderful post on some of the Crape Myrtle around town. It is truly a plant used in the landscape in the south.
There are multiple colors and sizes from which to choose. Every year there are more cultivars coming onto the market. When I first planted Crape Myrtles in my Texas landscape there were few small varieties available, now there are quite a few. Crape Myrtles, Lagerstroemia indica, are available in miniature shrub form to medium tree. The mistake many people make is trying to put a medium tree in a space where they want a small tree.
Too much pruning or incorrect pruning is hard on a tree. Many landscape companies pollard Crape Myrtles and this is an invitation to shorten the life of this plant. I was schooled in the Master Gardener course work under Jim Orband, York County Cooperative Extension. Proper pruning techniques are taught to and by the Master Gardener group. A great publication was put together in direct application for pruning and caring for Crape Myrtles.
In our Learning Garden we have two of the small shrub varieties of Crape Myrtle. Both are nicely shaped shrubs that require little if any pruning.
Both are about 4 or 5 years old. Chickasaw has a smaller leaf than the Pocomoke.
Besides pruning errors, incorrect placement in the garden impedes blooming.
This poor little tree has seldom bloomed. You can see how shaded it is from the oaks in the same yard.
Crape Myrtle are prone to powdery mildew, though newer varieties are being advertised as mildew resistant. I have one of these varieties. Dynamite is a super red and very disease resistant.
This beauty is in my ballet teacher's garden. Mature Crape Myrtles are wonderful, they give beauty in the summer with their blooms, fall with their foliage color and in the winter you see exfoliating bark many varieties have.
As I said earlier, Crape Myrtles are used in the landscape -- sometimes with multiple plantings of the same color....
And sometimes with many colors...
In addition to the York County publication mentioned above, there are some wonderful websites to explore all the different colors and sizes of this plant.
One is http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/trees/crapemyrtle/index.html click on the link Variety Characteristics by Name and the link Variety Characteristics by Size. These are two links that have pictures of groupings of various colors and size.
http://www.fast-growing-trees.com/CrapeMyrtles.htm is another site that gives information on individual trees.
Many of the Crape Myrtles have Indian names. These are cultivars developed in the United States and are some of the more mildew resistant. Some of the new varieties are more cold hardy and more compact in growth pattern.
I hope you check out some of the Crape Myrtles...perhaps there is one for your garden!!
Fall color varies with the Crape Myrtle. Here are a couple great examples of great fall color.
Next week is Shagbark Hickory....come back!