For The Answer
Weekly Express-News ArticleSaturday, July 9, 2005By Calvin Finch,
Conservation Director and Horticulturist, SAWS
There are a lot of good reasons to plant crape myrtles. They are good xeriscape plants and bloom all summer when planted in full sun. There is a size for every situation including groundcovers, low shrubs, large shrubs and small trees. Some varieties have attractive patterned exfoliating bark and may have fall leaf color. They are generally fast growing. Select the modern hybrids for powdery mildew resistance.
Here are a few of my favorite selections.
CULTIVAR FLOWER COLOR GROWTH HABIT HEIGHT FALL COLOR
Arapaho Red Upright 20’+ n/a
Biloxi Pale Pink Upright vase 30’+ Orange red
Catawba Purple Broad crown 8’ – 10’ Orange
Cheyenne Bright Red Rounded 8’ – 12’ n/a
Muskogee Light Lavender Broad tall tree 25’+ Red/Orange
Natchez White Broad tall tree 20’ – 30’ High Red
Tuscarora Dark Pink Broad vase 20’ – 25’ Red orange
Remove the root ball from the plastic nursery container and set the root ball in the center of the hole. Back-fill with the original soil from the hole, firming and tamping the soil to drive out all air pockets. When the hole is completely filled, make an earthen wall around the circumference of the hole to make watering easier.
Water the newly planted tree thoroughly. Keep the root zone moist, not soaked, on an “as need” basis for approximately two weeks. After this establishment period, the crape myrtle is very adept at telling you when to water. When the plant wilts, water it.
The final step in planting is to mulch the entire planting area with 3-4 inches of leaves or any other organic material. This helps keep down weeds, keep the moisture level constant, cool the hot summer soil, and cut down on watering needs.
Crape myrtles are typically multi-trunked shrubs; early removal of all but the strongest trunk will produce a single-trunked tree.
Remember on either form, the foliage should cover two-thirds of the total plant’s height and the trunk should be one-third of the height.
Because crape myrtle flowers are borne on the current season’s growth, most people prune every spring. Good news for folks that do not like to prune, new research results indicate it may not increase total bloom and may delay bloom. Further information about pruning and a more extensive list of varieties can be seen at: plantanswers.com, click information index, click trees and shrubs, click crape myrtles, and or pruning.
If you remove the spent flowers to prevent seed formation the crape myrtles will bloom for a longer period through the year.
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