The arrival of summer is announced with the flowering of Crepe Myrtles. These deciduous trees are at their showiest in summer when masses of long, bright flower heads cover the tree. Botanically known as Lagerstroemias, these versatile trees are often used by councils as street trees, and are wonderful for public and private gardens where they make a lovely feature in summer and autumn.
After flowering ceases in summer, the leaves turn vibrant shades of yellow, gold, orange and red in autumn before falling off the tree. Some Crepe Myrtles do have a purple/brown colour as their evergreen shade. Autumn colour displays will depend on the variety you choose.
Crepe Myrtles are not only admired for their pretty flowers, but they also have attractive decorative bark. A mottled spotty pattern forms on the bark in muted tones of tan, pinky browns and grey. The bark peels to reveal a lovely smooth trunk.
When selecting a Crepe Myrtle you are spoilt for choice these days. Hybrid varieties have been bred which are less resistant to powdery mildew - a fungus that can affect foliage of plants in particularly humid conditions.The hybrid varieties are also best as they don’t sucker as much from the base of the tree as the non-hybrids, and are smaller in size. Suckering can be minimized by avoiding root disturbance, as crepe myrtles have shallow root systems.
In addition to flower colour, you can also select your preferred Crepe Myrtle by size. Tree sizes vary greatly from short shrub-like plants as bred in the Chopin series, to smaller dwarf varieties that only grow to 3m tall – perfect for small gardens. Most Hybrids average a growth height of 4-6m tall. Non-hybrid Lagerstroemia indica will grow a bit larger, reaching 8m tall.
Flower colours vary and include white, purples, pinks and reds. Round buds form and open to crinkly bright blooms, similar to that of crepe paper.Pruning isn’t really necessary if you’re buying a smaller variety as they will grow naturally into a nice shaped tree. If you do want to prune your Crepe Myrtle, do so in winter, while they are in their dormant stage. Hard pruning will encourage bushy new growth.
Lagerstroemias need a sunny spot with good air circulation in well drained soil. Once established, they are quite drought tolerant. An ideal tree for small gardens, due to their compact and vase-like shape. They can also be used as a background plants in perennial borders or planted in pots. They make stunning feature trees in any landscape.
Crepe Myrtles are a favourite at Plantmark - Come in and check out our range today!