Flower of summer
It is this summer perennial’s turn to delight gardeners and casual observers alike. Crepe myrtles outstretched arms can spray forth a multitude of colors including pink, red, lavender or white to wow its fans.
There are a number of varieties of this healthy shrub tree but the one most evident in our community seems to propagate hot pink or raspberry flowers.
This is a sturdy plant that usually winters well in zone 6, although when we have a particularly severe winter, crepe myrtles suffer. Some varieties do better in our zone than others. One might want to do research before making a purchase.
It is an inherently southern plant and loves the sun and warmth provided by this climate.
The warmer the climate, the larger this bush or tree can become. Though we have some significant size bushes - i.e. trees - in zone 6, they primarily serve as bushes in our vicinity.
The hardiness of this plant can be attributed to it being drought resistant, adaptable to a variety of soils, fast growers and few pests can destroy them.
They do best if planted in full sun or at least mottled shade. Though they are adaptable to most soils, start with giving them a boost with some fertilizer and moist well-drained soil. Though drought resistant, give it a drink of water during dry spells and when freshly planted.
Once established, the shape of the crepe myrtle is up to the gardener. Left to its own devices it will become a fan-shaped bush, however, it can be pruned into a small tree if one so desires.
When choosing a crepe myrtle for the garden one should choose a variety which will mature to the size best suited for the particular garden area.
Pruning should take place in late winter, just before the budding season starts. To train the bush into a tree, small limbs need to be snipped off from the main trunk of the bush.
This is a multi-stemmed bush, be sure to choose several healthy stems to the trunk and address accordingly.
Though few pests and plant diseases bother the crepe myrtle it does have a few that aggravate it. These include Japanese beetle, aphids, whitefly and powdery mildew and each should be treated with recommended insecticides or disease preventatives.
Some varieties of the plant are particularly disease and insect resistant so these cares may be addressed when choosing your plant.
Sometimes a crepe myrtle won’t bloom enough to suit its owner and this could be due to several reasons. If it was pruned in early spring instead of late winter the blooms could have been lopped off.
Sometimes there are too many branches and it needs to be thinned out. Crepe myrtles require a lot of sunshine so perhaps a neighboring tree needs a trim. It could simply need some fertilizer and that is an easy fix.
These are easily grown bushes that present a beautiful bloom in the heat of summer. Even when they aren’t blooming their elegant branches offer a pleasing sight.
If you don’t have one in your landscape, check them out next time you visit the local nursery.