Delicate paper thin petals; beautiful large
blooms in white, pink, red, or purple; lustrous green leaves forming a
thick canopy of foliage; smooth, exfoliating bark; one of the favorite
plants in a Southern garden; this is the Crapemyrtle.
From the showy flowers to the superb bark and
foliage, the Crapemyrtle is a favorite landscape plant throughout the South.
Introduced in 1747, the Crapemyrtle is native to China and Korea. It is
hardy from Zones 7 to 9 and can be found in the South, Southwest, and West
Coast. Crapemyrtles are found as far north as Baltimore, Maryland, but
they are better suited for warmer regions of the country.
The Crapemyrtle is a very adaptable plant.
It grows best in moist, well-drained soils; prefers full sun, and is drought
resistant. To produce large flowers and control larger growing cultivars,
plants should be severely pruned before the new growth emerges in the Spring.
Blooms are most abundant in soils low in nutrients, especially nitrogen,
which can cause a lack of blooms. Throughout the bloom season, additional
flowering can be stimulated by fertilization and the removal of faded blooms.
Crapemyrtles are a valuable landscape plant
that can be used as a shrub or small tree, ranging in size from 18 inches
to over 25 feet. As an asset to almost any landscape, the Crapemyrtle is
a very beautiful specimen shrub or tree, often used in groups under planted
with a ground cover. The dark green ground cover contrasts the gray to
tan shades of the handsome bark. The smaller varieties of Crapemyrtle can
be used as hedges, screens, or in masses. Planted in this manner, Crapemyrtles
offer a grand display of color throughout the summer months.
Crapemyrtles are commonly multi-trunked, however,
single trunk specimens are available. A canopy of foliage covers the top
half of the plant, with the bottom half of the plant remaining leafless,
revealing the beautiful bark. The leaves of the Crapemyrtle are a glossy
medium green, turning yellow, red-orange, or red in the Fall. The smooth
bark exfoliates, flaking off in irregular patches to reveal various shades
of brown to gray.
One of the prominent features of the Crapemyrtle
is the spectacular flowers, formed in large panicles ranging from 6 to
8 inches in length and 3 to 5 inches in width. The petals have a crinkled
appearance, similar to crepe paper, hence the name Crapemyrtle. Blooming
from mid-June through September, the Crapemyrtle ranges in flower color
from white to various shades of pink, purple, and red.
Crapemyrtle can be propagated easily through
several methods. The most commonly used methods of propagation are hardwood
and softwood cuttings. To propagate by hardwood cuttings take 8 inch long
and 1/2 inch diameter cuttings in early to mid-November. Stick several
cuttings in a container filled with a potting soil or well drained garden
soil. About an inch of the cutting should protrude above the soil line.
These cuttings can be left outside but should be protected from severe
freeze. Once new growth emerges place the container in a sunny location
and keep watered until you can plant them in the summer or fall.
Softwood cuttings consist of 4 to 6 inch cuttings
taken from actively growing shoots at any time during the growing season.
The cut ends can be dipped in a rooting hormone and then stuck in a well
drained potting mix. Keep the cuttings misted to avoid drying out before
roots can form. Rooted cuttings can then be planted in larger pots and
grown to a larger size to improve survivability when placed in the landscape.
The Crapemyrtle can be propagated by seeds
or cuttings. If by seed, germination occurs within 2 to 3 weeks. If by
cutting, softwood cuttings should be taken between late May and July. Rooting
should occur within 3 to 4 weeks.
Many Crapemyrtle cultivars exist, varying in
sizes and colors. The Table below describes several of them. Check
with your local nurseryman for cultivars that exist in your area.
Crapemyrtle must be grown in full sun for satisfactory
flowering and to reduce disease problems. While it will tolerate a wide
range of soil conditions once established, crapemyrtle does not thrive
in a very wet location.
Container grown plants can be planted at any
time of the year, however, they must be watered conscientiously, particularly
if they are planted in the summer. Balled and burlapped and bare-root plants
are generally better able to become established if they are planted during
the dormant season. Although the canopy of a crapemyrtle may have lost
its leaves in the fall, the roots typically remain active later into the
fall and early winter. Crapemyrtles transplant easily so they can be moved
in the landscape. Move them during the fall or late winter.
Crapemyrtles do not require much fertilizer.
They are also adaptable to a fairly wide soil pH range, from 5.0 to 6.5.
A soil test provides the best standard for determining the amount of fertilizer
that is needed and whether the pH is at the appropriate level for your
plants. However, one pound of actual nitrogen per thousand square feet
of bed area is usually adequate to support new growth in an established
tree. Be aware that over fertilization can reduce cold hardiness.
Heading back crapemyrtles in late winter promotes
lush new growth in the spring. Flowers are produced on current season's
growth so flowers develop even after such severe pruning. However, such
pruning destroys the natural character of the plant, with the winter form
being an unsightly stemmy mess. It also promotes sucker growth which detracts
from the beauty of the trunk.
Preferred pruning practices involve limited
pruning. Some thinning of branches to enhance plant form is desirable,
but heavy pruning is not needed. A wide assortment of crapemyrtle cultivars
offers a variety of sizes that can be tailored to the site. Some selections
are shrub-like in form growing to a size of only 3 to 5 feet, while others
become sizeable small trees in the 25 to 35 foot range. There is a crapemyrtle
for just about every situation. In the long run crapemyrtles will flower
well if they are in a sunny location and left alone.
Some of the earlier flowering cultivars can
be induced to produce additional blooms later in the summer by reducing
the spent flower clusters. However, there is some concern that this can
reduce cold hardiness of the plant.
A few pests can be a problem for the Crapemyrtle.
Diseases such as powdery mildew, black spot, sooty mold, tip blight, leaf
spot, and root rot can affect the Crapemyrtle. Two insects: aphids and
Florida wax scale, can also be a problem. However, with proper care management,
such as planting in a sunny location with good air circulation, these pests
can easily be controlled and even prevented.
Three Extension Publications address crapemyrtle pests. One of them is on line and can be linked from this page:Foliage Diseases of Crapemyrtles . You can request the other two publications from Extension Publications at Auburn University by name and number:
ANR-189, Controlling Aphids On Ornamentals
ANR-274, Controlling Scale Insects
Whether one Crapemyrtle or a mass is planted,
the Crapemyrtle is a beautiful addition to the landscape. Not only for
its magnificent flowers, but for the combination of flowers, handsome bark,
and beautiful Fall color, the Crapemyrtle will always be a favorite landscape
plant for the South.
1. Crapemyrtle Comparisons Chart, Byers Nursery Company, Inc., Huntsville, Alabama, 1991.
2. Dirr, Michael A. Manual of Woody Landscape
Plants, Stipes Publishing Company, Champaign, Illinois, 1990, pp. 463-467.
3. Whitcomb, Carl E. Know It and Grow It. II,
Lacebark Publications, Stillwater, Oklahoma, 1983, pp. 327-328.
4. Wyman, Donald. Trees for American Gardens,
Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1990, pp. 269-270.
|CULTIVARS||HABIT||FLOWER COLOR||BLOOM DATE||DAYS OF FLOWERING||
|Dwarf Form (3 to 5 feet)|
|CENTENNIAL||Compact Globose||Bright Purple||Mid June||70||Orange||Smooth||Good||Superb in masses; Beautiful, bright color.|
|OZARK SPRING||Compact Dwarf||Lavender||Late June||70||Yellow||Smooth||Good||Flower changes from lavender to white.|
|VICTOR||Compact Dwarf||Dark Red||Late June||85||Yellow||Smooth||Good||Similar to azalea; blooms entire summer; best dwarf|
|Semi-Dwarf Form (5 to 10 feet)|
|ACOMA||Low Spreading; Semi-pendulous||White||Late June||90||Purple Red||Exfoliating||High||Recurrent flowering.|
|CADDO||Low Spreading||Bright Pink||Mid July||80||Orange Red||Exfoliating||High|
|HOPI||Low Spreading||Medium Pink||Late June||100||Orange Red||Exfoliating||High||Extremely cold hardy; recurrent flowering.|
|PECOS||Low Globose||Medium Pink||Early July||100||Maroon||Exfoliating||High||Recurrent flowering; bark is dark brown.|
|PRAIRIE LACE||Compact Upright||Pink (white edges)||Mid June||90||Red||Smooth||Fair||Flowers are variegated; sterile.|
|TONTO||Globose Multi-stem||Red||Mid July||75||Bright Maroon||Exfoliating||High||Best red hybrid.|
|ZUNI||Globose||Medium Lavender||Early July||100||Red Orange||Exfoliating||High||Recurrent flowering; good Fall color.|
|Small Tree (10 to 20 feet)|
|APALACHEE||Upright Vase||Light Lavender||Mid July||90||Russet||Exfoliating||High||Very hardy; spectacular bark (cinnamon to chestnut brown in color)|
|CATAWBA||Globose Medium||Violet Purple||Mid July||70||Red Orange||Smooth||Good||Deep flower color.|
|CENTENNIAL SPIRIT||Upright||Dark Red||Late June||110||Red Orange||Smooth||Fair||Flowers are torch-like.|
|COMANCHE||Upright; Broad Spreading Crown||Coral Pink||Early July||80||Red||Exfoloating||High||Flowers are plentiful; bark is a light sandalwood color.|
|CONESTOGA||Open Arching||Medium Lavender||Early July||70||Yellow||Smooth||Fair||Flowers change from Medium Lavender to Pale Lavender.|
|LIPAN||Broad Upright||Medium Lavender||Mid July||80||Orange||Exfoliating||High||Spectacular bark; almost white in color.|
|NEAR EAST||Open Spreading||Light Pink||Mid July||90||Yellow Orange||Smooth||Moderate||Least hardy; best pink flower.|
|OSAGE||Open Spreading; Semi-pendulous||Clear Light Pink||July||100||Red||Exfoliating||High||Graceful habit; recurrent flowering.|
|POWHATAN||Compact Upright||Medium Purple||Late July||75||Yellow Orange||Smooth||Good||Good flower color; lovely tree.|
|REGAL RED||Broad upright||Dark Red||Mid July||70||Red Orange||Smooth||Good||Abundant flowers.|
|SEMINOLE||Compact Globose||Clear Medium Pink||Mid June||75||Yellow||Exfoliating||Good||Recurrent flowering.|
|SIOUX||Dense Upright||Dark Pink||Late July||90||Maroon||Exfoliating||High||Deep pink flowers catch the eye.|
|TUSKEGEE||Broad Spreading||Dark Pink||Late June||100||Red Orange||Exfoliating||High||Recurrent flowering;; spectacular bark.|
|WILLIAM TOOVEY||Vase Shaped||Pink Red||Mid July||90||Red Orange||Smooth||Good||Sometimes called Watermelon Red; first named Crapemyrtle.|
|YUMA||Dense Upright||Medium Lavender||Late July||90||Yellow Orange||Exfoloating||High||Very hardy; clustered flowers.|
|Large Tree (20 feet and larger)|
|BILOXI||Upright Vase||Pale Pink||Early July||80||Orange Red||Exfoliating||High||Very hardy; recurrent flowering; excellent bark.|
|BYERS STANDARD RED||Upright Vase||Soft Red||Mid July||75||Orange||Smooth||Good||An old favorite.|
|BYERS WONDERFUL WHITE||Very Upright||Clear White||Late June||90||Yellow||Smooth||Good||Most hardy; flowers are larger than basketballs.|
|CAROLINA BEAUTY||Very Upright||Dark Red||Mid July||65||Orange||Smooth||Poor||East Coast favorite.|
|CHOCTAW||Upright||Bright Pink||Mid July||90||Maroon||Exfoliating||Very||Best tree cultivar.|
|HARDY LAVENDER||Upright||Medium Lavender||Late July||75||Red||Smooth||Good||Very hardy; flowers until frost.||
|Dark Pink||Early July||100||Orange||Exfoliating||High||Spectacular bark; lovely flowers.|
|MUSKOGEE||Broad Tall Tree||Light Lavender||Mid June||120||Red Orange||Exfoliating||High||Good for street planting.|
|NATCHEZ||Broad Tall Tree||White||Mid June||110||Red Orange||Exfoliating||High||Very hardy; tallest tree; excellent bark (dark cinnamon brown).|
|POTOMAC||Upright||Clear Medium Pink||Late June||90||Orange||Smooth||Fair||Beautiful flowers; sometimes frost damaged.|
|TUSCARORA||Broad Vase||Dark Coral Pink||Early July||70||Red Orange||Exfoliating||High||Broad crown; recurrent flowering; excellent bark; sometimes frost damaged.|
|WICHITA||Upright Vase||Lavender||Early July||110||Copper||Exfoliating||High||Recurrent flowering; excellent bark; difficult to root.|