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Lagerstroemia indica

Description

The crepe myrtle is a favorite of many southern gardeners. (Crepe myrtle is the preferred common name in the south). The draw for this plant is that is blooms at a time when most trees are not blooming. If the plant is healthy, it will be covered with blooms that will last for months during the hottest part of the summer.

Crepe myrtles are deciduous, have a rapid growth rate, and are often seen in their multi-stemmed form. They will grow in almost any kind of soil: sand, loam or clay, although it prefers moist, well-drained soil and full sunlight. This plant is easily transplanted and is drought and alkaline tolerant, but it does have pest and disease problems. It is even possible to grow them in containers if they are watered and fertilized properly.  They will grow in partial shade, however, the best flowering will occur on plants that receive more than 6 hours of direct sun. This plant blooms from June until fall, and to promote flower bloom, it is best to trim off seed pods. Fall color is not very impressive because the tree is tropical and loses it's leaves early. This plant can be grown as a street tree with ground cover underneath, as an espalier, or as a specimen.

Crepe myrtle breeding and cultivation have produced several different colors of flowers, ranging from white to purple to every shade of red. They can be purchased for small spaces with plants that reach a mature height of 3 to 5 feet, to large shade trees reaching heights of 40 feet, and almost any size in between.

Work has been done in breeding this original crepe myrtle Lagerstroemia indica with a Japanese crepe myrtle Lagerstroemia faurei, which features red, flaky bark and resistance to powdery mildew. Most new varieties that are on the market today are a result of this breeding program.  

For more information on the newer varieties, their mature height, flower color, and how to solve some of the more common problems associated with crepe myrtles such as powdery mildew or lack of flowering visit the web site on crepe myrtles put out by Clemson University: http://www.clemson.edu/crapemyrtle/ 

Quick ID Hints:

  • Twigs have decurrent ridges
  • Has short petioles
  • Leaves are opposite, alternate, or in whorls of 3s
  • Flowers are 6-parted, anthocyanin, and have clawed petals
  • Flowers with style-like staminodes
  • Inflorescence is a terminal panicle
  • Fruit is a dehiscent capsule, 6-valved, and brown
  • Bark exfoliates, exposing hues of brown to gray

 

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Catawba'
    dark purple, blooms July to fall, mildew resistant, 12 ft. tall
  • 'Cherokee'
    red flowers, 10-12 ft. tall
  • 'Dallas Red'
    very cold hardy, large panicles of deep red flowers, 20 ft. tall
  • 'Muskogee'
    lavender flowers, long bloomer, tan-medium brown bark, mildew resistance, over 20 ft. tall
  • 'Natchez'
    pure white flowers, cinnamon-brown bark, 30 ft. tall
  • 'Osage'
    heavy bloomer, light pink flowers, chestnut brown bark, mildew resistant, 12 ft. tall
  • 'Peppermint Lace'
    deep pink flowers with white edges, candy striped appearance, 20 ft. tall
  • 'Powhatan'
    purple flowers, 14-20 ft. tall
  • 'Tuscarora'
    coral pink flowers, 16 ft. tall
Tags:
#purple#gold#red#tropical#white#pink#deciduous#full sun#drought tolerant#specimen#white flowers#purple flowers#pink flowers#tree#espalier#street tree#playground#moist soil#fast growing#cpp#well-drained soil#transplant#gold flowers#full sunlight#deer resistant#children's garden#groundcover#red flower#alkaline soil tolerant#pollinator plant#ground cover#fantz#flower
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Catawba'
    dark purple, blooms July to fall, mildew resistant, 12 ft. tall
  • 'Cherokee'
    red flowers, 10-12 ft. tall
  • 'Dallas Red'
    very cold hardy, large panicles of deep red flowers, 20 ft. tall
  • 'Muskogee'
    lavender flowers, long bloomer, tan-medium brown bark, mildew resistance, over 20 ft. tall
  • 'Natchez'
    pure white flowers, cinnamon-brown bark, 30 ft. tall
  • 'Osage'
    heavy bloomer, light pink flowers, chestnut brown bark, mildew resistant, 12 ft. tall
  • 'Peppermint Lace'
    deep pink flowers with white edges, candy striped appearance, 20 ft. tall
  • 'Powhatan'
    purple flowers, 14-20 ft. tall
  • 'Tuscarora'
    coral pink flowers, 16 ft. tall
Tags:
#purple#gold#red#tropical#white#pink#deciduous#full sun#drought tolerant#specimen#white flowers#purple flowers#pink flowers#tree#espalier#street tree#playground#moist soil#fast growing#cpp#well-drained soil#transplant#gold flowers#full sunlight#deer resistant#children's garden#groundcover#red flower#alkaline soil tolerant#pollinator plant#ground cover#fantz#flower
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Lagerstroemia
    Species:
    indica
    Family:
    Lythraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China, Indochina, Himalayas, Japan
    Distribution:
    Eastern US
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    This tree is resistant to damage by deer.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 25 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Multi-stemmed
    Multi-trunked
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    This plant produces 6-valved dehiscent capsules that are brown and 1/2" wide. They persist through winter, and the disc-shaped seeds are 3/8" in diameter and winged.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Irregular
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are numerous, irregular, and 1"-1 1/2" wide. They are antocyanin-pigmented. They commonly have 6 petals, are clawed, and cristate. There are 6 staminodes, similar to style. They grow on a terminal panicle on current year's growth and can be white, pink, red, and purple from July to fall.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Smooth
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Opposite
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are 1"-2 3/4" long and 3/4"-1 1/2" wide. They are alternate to sub-opposite or in whorls of 3. They are simple, oblong to elliptic to obovate, acute to obtuse, broad cuneate, and entire. The decurrent petiole is very short and leaves have tiny conicle, deciduous stipules. Leaves are yellow, orange, or red in the fall. White-flowered trees produce yellow fall color
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Peeling
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    They range from having smooth to exfoliating bark. However, most new varieties have red, flaky bark. Exfoliating bark exposes hues of brown to gray and have a smooth inner bark. Juvenile branches have decurrent ridges and appear angled.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Stems are slender, often almost squarish, with prominent wings. Older stems are smooth and exfoliating.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Flowering Tree
    Specimen
    Street Tree
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Problems:
    Frequent Disease Problems
    Frequent Insect Problems