Lagerstroemia, commonly known as the Crape Myrtle or the Crepe Myrtle Tree, is a genus of around 50 species of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs native to the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, northern Australia and parts of Oceania, and are cultivated in warmer climates around the world. The genus is named after the Swedish merchant Magnus von Lagerström, who supplied Carolus Linnaeus with plants he collected.
Crepe Myrtle Trees are chiefly known for their colorful and long-lasting flowers. Most species of Crepe Myrtle Tree have sinewy, fluted stems and branches with a mottled appearance that arises from having bark that sheds throughout the year. The leaves are opposite, simple, with entire margins, and vary in size. While all species of Crepe Myrtle are woody in nature, they can range in height from over 100 feet to under one foot; most, however are small to medium multiple-trunked trees and shrubs. The leaves of temperate species provide autumn color.
Flowers are born in summer and autumn in panicles of crinkled flowers with a crepe-like texture. Colors vary from deep purple to red to white, with almost every shade in between. Although no blue-flowered varieties exist, it is toward the blue end of the spectrum that the flowers trend, with no sight of orange or yellow except in stamens and pistils. The fruit is a capsule, green and succulent at first, then ripening to dark brown or black dryness.
Planting Directions For A Crepe Myrtle Tree
Location: They require six to eight hours of full sunshine every day in order to grow flowers.
Planting Instructions: When planting a new Crepe Myrtle Tree, be careful not to plant the tree too deep into the soil. This could rob the tree of oxygen. When you plant the Crepe Myrtle Tree, you want the top of the root ball to be just level with the soil so that the root ball can gather oxygen.
Watering: Crepe Myrtles are drought tolerant, but during dry periods require some water to continue flowering.
Fertilization: Crepe Myrtle are fertilized with high nitrogen fertilizers.
Weed Control: If your Crepe Myrtle shows signs of weeds, simply remove the weeds and as much of the weed’s root system as possible. You can choose a common herbicide available in most stores if you feel the problem is out of control or simply remove the weeds until they no longer grow in.
Pests and Disease: Crepe Myrtle pests include Aphids and mold. Aphids need to be washed off with a forceful water bath or spray. You can use an environmentally safe pesticide or insecticide to wash the tree along with water. Sooty mold may appear but doesn’t harm the tree and will go away by itself so long as you control the Aphids.
Pruning: When pruning your Crepe Myrtle you should be careful not to heavily prune the tree. Thin out young trees to 3-4 main branches. After blooming in spring, clip the tips of the branches. Make the cut just above the point where a pair of leaves attaches to the stem. (The Razzle Dazzle series of Crape Myrtles do not require pruning).
Pollination: Depending on variety, crape myrtles bloom anytime from very late spring to midsummer, sometimes producing small flower clusters again four to 10 weeks after the primary flowering display ends. Once flower petals drop away, fertilized flower ovaries swell into round, green seed capsules. By late summer, the capsules are mature and begin to turn from green to red or tan, but remain plump and firm. In autumn, as the foliage turns color and drops away, the capsules dry completely, turning deep brown and split open to shed seeds. Some capsules may not split open until early winter.