Summer is the time when crape myrtles put forth their numerous blooms in full display; so wouldn’t it make sense to choose yours now to make sure you get the exact color you want?
Crape myrtles come in a variety of shades. Try shopping for a red crape myrtle and you may be surprised to hear us ask, “What color of red?” When it comes to crape myrtles, there is no such thing as plain red, or pink, or even plain green foliage for that matter. Crape myrtles vary wildly in color, and size too! Shop for a red crape myrtle and you’ll choose amongst hues of watermelon-red, cherry-red, true-red, and more. Prefer pink? You’ll get to choose from a range of shades that run from magenta to cotton candy pink. It’s hard to distinguish between them if you don’t actually see the blooms. See a few pink selections to the right? Quite a difference in hue.
Foliage can be be green, red, and even ebony (see the picture at right) depending on the variety and time of year. The foliage on some crape myrtles changes color in fall, and all crape myrtles are deciduous, so will lose their leaves through winter.
4 Facts To Remember About Crape Myrtles.
1. Size Matters. When it comes to choosing the correct crape myrtle for your landscape it is imperative that you measure how far you desire the crape myrtle’s mature height and canopy size to expand in your yard. Crape myrtles run the gamut from miniatures, maturing at only 1′-2′ high with a spread of 2′, to towering 20′ trees with a spread of 25′, and everything in between. Get the right size crape myrtle for your landscape needs!
- Stake a post in your landscape where you want to the trunk of your the crape myrtle to be planted.
- Tie a string loosely around the post and while holding the string, walk it out to furthest point you desire the canopy to extend. Walk all around the post so you have a 350° vantage point.
- Research which crape myrtles will fit in those measurements at their mature height, and buy one of those.
You wouldn’t want to plant this massive crape myrtle in a tight corner somewhere in your landscape.
Crape myrtles can also be left in their natural shrub form.
2. Crape myrtles need very little maintenance. Did you read that? Please read it again, then shout it from the rooftops, and definitely into your landscapers’ ears. No more crape murder! There is no need to chop the tops off your crape myrtles. Following the advice from tip #1, buying the correct size crape myrtle in the first place, should eliminate any (false) excuse to cut back your crape myrtles. If a crape myrtle has been severely butchered, it’s possible to cut it all the way down and start over if needed. See this article from Neil Sperry that describes this technique.
There are only 3 real reasons to prune certain parts of crape myrtle:
- To remove branches that are growing sideways and rubbing against trunks.
- To train your crape myrtle into a tree by removing extra trunks down to the ground. It’s recommended to keep 3 or more trunks when training into a tree (odds look best.)
- To remove the brown capsules on the distal areas of branches once flowers have completed their bloom in order to promote a new flush of blooms about 30-40 days after pruning. Just prune the spent flower heads, not the entire branch. (These should not be removed after September.)
Stop crape murder! It creates knobby trunks and spindly, weak branches, and is completely uneccessary if you plant the right sized crape myrtle for your needs.
Young sprouts may need to be removed from the base of crape myrtle when training into a tree, especially first few years.
3. Bloom time can vary by 6-8 weeks depending on your variety of crape myrtle. Flower blossoms develop on new growth, so while each variety varies in its exact bloom time, flowering can also depend on the pruning you did in winter. Crape myrtles that have been severely pruned will be more delayed in their blooming process.
4. Crape myrtles are versatile and tolerant of our climate and soils.
Crape myrtles like the heat and humidity, and once they are established (about 2 years), they can handle drought. On the other hand, on those rare occasions we have a deluge of rain for days on end, crape myrtles also handle short periods of flooding. Just remember that shrubs/trees take more water to get established in summertime.
Crape myrtles can also be planted in acidic or alkaline soil, making them comfortable just about anywhere. They prefer full sun for best blooms, and good air circulation helps prevent mildew issues. Buying from Rainbow Gardens also helps as all of our crape myrtle selections are mildew resistant.
Full sun is the best location for your crape myrtles to put on their best blooms.
With such a variety in color, size, and shape, you can see why we think crape myrtles are a choice landscape plant for everyone! Come see us at Rainbow Gardens and let us help you pick out the perfect crape myrtle for you!
~The Happy Gardener