Crepe or Crape Myrtle? or Crepemyrtle or Crapemyrtle?

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before-the-storm-hannah-046This is Tonte. It looks a bit different than the previous post doesn’t it? The light of day can change as can your monitor or a thousand things. Here are some of the Crapemyrtles I like to group together. I’m not fond of the orange red but any of the pinks will do.  Most Crapemyrtles grow between 15 and 25 feet. There are a few dwarf ranging from 3ft to 10ft and their popularity is growing. I have had a variety of them at one home or another. NC loves Crapemyrtles.

The common Crapemyrtle Lagerstromeria indica is native to Asia and was introduced to the US in 1747. It is most likely  this one you see growing beside the older homes in our area of NC. There are several growing on the land of my great great, grandparents who built their home in early 1800’s. There are hundreds of these varieties today bred for variation in size, flower color, and growth habit. 100_56121100_55842A Japenese Crapemyrtle, Lagerstromeria faurel was introduced in the 1950’s. It was cold hardy, had beautiful trunk coloration, and was resistant to powdery mildew. Mr. Don Eglof of the National Arboretum bred the faurel and indica and came up with several varieties that have beautiful traits of both parents. The tall Natchez is the most popular. The Natchez is white and has grown to 30 feet in my garden. I purchased one last year for my new home.

The Muskogee below is one of two that survived the transfer from my former home to the new one. It survived being dug out of the ground without proper roots, starved of water and nutritious soil, and scorched by the sun. I thought it had died for sure when I transplanted it to the new bed closer to the house. But it sprouted new growth without losing a single bit of mature growth. I think that is amazing. I have also seen these trees transplanted after being scalped and moved at the wrong time. I guess Mr. Eglof had a lot of faith in them.

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Look at that bloom!

lots-of-gazing-balls-149Above is Muskogee and grows to about 20ft to 25ft. It is planted in three places in my yard. Two of them are right out the back parallel to my screened porch. When they get large, it will be a beautiful sight while sitting on my back swing.

It is best to get one of the new hybrids. I still get powdery mildew on a few of the varieties but some are more resistant than others. The Clemson site will help you understand all the different growing conditions along with shapes and sizes. I find they do the best in full hot sun with lots of air circulation. They grow well in parking lots. I guess they don’t mind that hot pavement and narrow growing space. I’m always amazed that anything will grow in a spot like that.

Here are a few pictures from my computer of several that have grown in my yard over the years. I will not try and name them all as light condition can really vary a variety. You need to see one blooming to get the right color. Buy them when they bloom which is usually July to frost for my zone 7 garden.

I wanted to mention also that I have never had mildew kill one of my Crapemyrtles. It has never affected the bloom either. It’s just a nuisance and makes the leaves look grey. Crapemyrtles are also a good choice if you are looking for Autumn foliage and beautiful bark. All the varieties are different.

lots-of-gazing-balls-153I bet that is a Dynamite. They look orange redish.

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They are beautiful even before they open. These blooms start to form early in the summer and add a lot of interest to the tree even before the buds burst open.

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Look!!!! I found a Watermelon Red for you from my little Cape Cod home I just moved from. Oh my goodness I love this tree. I don’t think I’ve ever seen mildew on it. And I dug up many a sucker offspring to start another. I wonder if they new folks will let me come get a few. If they knew I was doing them a favor……they would appreciate my offer.

You do need to trim any of the suckers off the bottom and the lower branches too if you want a tree and not a bush. Who would care if this bushed though! Oh I want this again. If I be good God, can I have one!

tops-of-treesThese are the Autumn leaves of Tuskogee.

pumpkin-container-067This is a bloom beginning to fade. I know this is a small variety but don’t remember the name.

I have never noticed these beautiful blooms to be bothered by a rain storm. Crapemyrtle blooms might get a bit beat up but not like you would think. They aren’t like a the large blooms of azaleas that are ruined after such an event.

lo-and-behold-036Evidence the thing loves a tough spot. This is the drought—new grass–super hot days. My grass looks tons better now and has filled in nicely. But look at this little guy. It is a small tree growing to only 15 feet. I needed it to be small for the space but I needed it to be wide for some privacy to our master bathroom and that private porch off the end. You can bet that your Crapemyrtle no matter the size will bloom its little fool head off just like this.

pumpkin-container-059I’m going to let this bush and it will serve as a privacy screen for the other side of my house. Look how much better the grass looks on that side.

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They like zones 7-10. Please see the chart at the Clemson site for the chart on soil ph and zones. It is a pdf file. I’m not even going to start the conversation on what is the best pruning method. They do seem to bloom better if you trim off the old pods. But a Natchez will get huge and I’m not hiring anyone to do it. I ‘ll keep the bottom suckers and off shoots tamed. My old one bloomed just fine being left alone.

There is also a debate on the proper method of trimming the tops and bases. I prefer to choose a few odd numbered trunks to remain. I also prefer to trim them the long way verses the chopped off method. Long means leaving a few very long healthy looking stems and cut off the side little branches. Some people give them a crew cut. If you give a crew cut they are pretty too and look like fountains. You better have real strong trunks if you give the crew cut and buzz off the tops!

I didn’t answer the question about what to call them did I. That’s because all are used and most are accepted. It’s a heated debate among Southerners. I was raised by an aunt who would call it a Lagerstromeria and a grandmother who called it a Crepe Myrtle. My Northern friends call it a Crapemyrtle and my western friends call it a Crepemyrtle. All have corrected me at some point in time. That is what I get for living all over the USA. I love it. And you thought I didn’t know;)

22 Comments Add yours

  1. john says:

    Do crape-myrtles like acid??

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    1. They don’t seem to mind it. We have a lot of clay and they grow like mad.

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  2. Cheryl Sistrunk says:

    I have one of the Watermelon Red Crepe Myrtles that my Sunday School class gave me about three years ago. It is beautiful. But it has a lot of little off-shoots under it and I was wondering about removing those and planting in hopes of having more of these same beautiful Crepe Myrtles. Can you describe to me how to do this? They do not seem to have roots of their own but are a part of a root system underground I guess.

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    1. Most important–you must check with patents on the particular tree that you own. There are fines associated with starting trees from cuttings if the tree has a patent.

      Assuming it does not–dip the ends of the cuttings in a rooting hormone–purchased at any garden center—and then plant in a good potting mix that will stay moist but not wet. Put that pot in morning sun and afternoon shade for the rest of the summer. In the fall–plant it in the ground. It should have sprouted leaves my then.

      Honestly–I’ve started many by just plopping the tree right in the ground after it was dipped in rooting hormone. I have really good soil though and is as good as some potting mixes. Won’t work if your soil is in bad shape.

      Good luck with it.

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  3. Gerri says:

    I have red dynamites in my back yard. When I ordered them, I ordered trees. They are full from the bottom up- more like a 7 ft narrow bush. Is this version supposed to be full from the bottom up? They are very branchy from the bottom up. Should I trim off all of the branches off the bottom to make it look more like a tree? I live in NC and looked at all the versions of crape myrtles in my community and didn’t see any red trees so I’m curious if this is just the way they are.
    They have to be trimmed to look like trees. Here is an excellent article on how to do it. Just make sure you prune at the correct time per the article’s directions. If you prune too early in the winter, the plant will die.
    http://wilsonbrosnursery.com/How-To/Pruning-Instructions/How-To-Prune-A-Crape-Myrtle.aspx

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  4. ruth Greer says:

    I have a crepe myrtle that just keeps getting bigger it is a year old but it will not bloom Can you tell me why? It gets all the afternoon sun. Very long arms on it.
    Some myrtles do better if you trim them back a good bit in the fall cause they bloom on new wood. Or, it may need fertilizing. I didn’t trim any of mine and they are all blooming like crazy. I think it’s the Espoma Plant Tone and Miracle Grow I put down in the Spring. Hope this helps.

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  5. mark says:

    I have a Tonto and Dynamite I planted in early april here in SE PA. Im determind to have these succeed. I am on the edge of the hardy zone so I will have to do everything i can to help them along. I was at a business in NJ and saw three huge dynamite trees blooming. I had never seen a tree like that. Now i know everything there is to know about myrtles. Crepe myrtles are without a doubt the most beutiful trees i have ever seen. If these succeed I want to buy a cawbawa or a royal velvet They have deep floresent purple bloom.

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  6. These are some of my favorite trees, Anna. When we were first married, the name of our street was Crepe Myrtle Walk. I’ve spelled them that way for the last 30 yrs. We have 5 of them planted in our yard, and they’ve gotten quite tall. We put them in almost 10 yrs. ago.
    I’m glad you said Crepe Myrtle. It’s good to get some Creapy support on the subject;) I bet at 10 years old they are up there with the best of them. The trunks are a unique winter feature when they are that old. I too want to line my driveway with them. What color are yours?

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  7. Nola says:

    They are my fav trees for bursts of red hot color in the heat of summer. I also love the way the “rain” color all over (except on the car) as they drop their blooms.
    They bloom for ages too. It’s cause they don’t open all at once and if you are lucky—you’ll get a second blooming out of them a couple of weeks later. I’ve even had a random bloom that just couldn’t wait and bloomed in spite of the season. They are a bit troublesome on the cars. Let’s just not think about that.

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  8. Cinj says:

    Wow, they look spectacular! Do any of them have a scent or are most of them unscented? I’ll have to enjoy them from a far too. I guess we can’t have it all, can we? I enjoy the peonies and lilacs that I grow up here.

    Looks like today’s another good day to stay inside. I’m working on teaching myself to crochet now. It’ll give me something to do while the temps warm up.
    I’m trying to get motivated to finish some pillows I’ve been working on. They just need to have the backs and ruffle put on. I do not like sewing ruffles. It’s like driving on a long trip. You know you have to do but can’t wait to get there. I want the pillows finished but am not interested in the process.

    Crapemyrtles can have a scent depending on the variety. It’s not one of the reasons you would buy one though.

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  9. joey says:

    Crapemyrtles are stunning … wish we could grow them here 😦
    It’s so beautiful where you live. You can grow so much that we can not because of our heat. I loved living all over the US because of the diversity. But the crapes do rock.

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  10. jodi says:

    Anna, I had heard of these and seen photos, but never seen one for real until I went to Missouri last summer and saw them blooming like crazy at Powell Gardens. Absolutely spectacular. They’re not hardy up here (obviously) at least in my part of the country, so I add crape-envy to my list of plants y’all can grow that I’all can’t. 🙂
    Too Funny! We do use our ya’ll…that’s how I spell it. And I’m bad about I’all…yes it does sound that way. We supply the humor in the world. I guess you will just have to enjoy those nice cool summers and spectacular view of the ocean. We’ll keep our crapes. I’ll send lots of photos though and you do the same. Love that I can be in Nova Scotia on any given day and you can be in NC through the net!

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  11. Phillip says:

    It has to be one of the toughest plants on earth. You can’t kill them! LOL The name thing has always confused me too. I started spelling it “Crape” because most of the books spell it that way but I still see it both ways.
    When I first moved away from NC, I had a lot to deal with. I just assumed everyone in the world thought like a Southerner. Not the case. I learned people are passionate about how they say it too. I learned to adapt. You won’t find most of the spellings in any resource book. I can find some and I’ve seen it written at nurseries all the different ways. So the answer is that there is no answer.

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  12. Jen says:

    I just wish that we could grow them here. What a lovely shrub, well I guess we can’t have everything…..

    Jen
    You won’t have that high heat and humidity followed the next day or week with a drought. Normally we have good growing conditions but we do have to be prepared for extremes and our soil has to be heavily amended. I think it is all worth it cause working in the garden is easy cheesy for me.

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  13. What a nice ode to the crepe myrtle. (Notice the spelling. *grin*)

    You’re going to have some wonderful color when all those crepe myrtles grow up. It’ll be a sight!

    Robin Wedewer
    It’s almost overpowering! You know it’s good if I’m already making my list to get more and it’s one of the first things I’m doing to plan for this summer. It’s so good to have you drop by. Thank you.

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  14. Got to have the crapes in my yard, too! I have ‘Tuscarora’ in the watermelon red color scheme. I also have a shrub crape ‘White Chocolate’ that I love for the foliage. The Japanese Beetles are a problem on the little shrub, but leave the big trees alone.
    Cameron
    Love that ‘Tuscarora’ and those dark leaves of ‘White Chocolate’. ‘White Chocolate’ is by Monrovia isn’t it? I’m hoping to pot a few of the new 3 footers.

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  15. Gail says:

    Anna,

    I do love them, but only have Natchez. It has grown to a fantastic size and the bark is beautiful. I love the newer varieties; those sweet pinks….like you’ve shown. They are almost indestructible, I left one in a pot, with roots barely covered by mulch and it survived. You have to love a plant like that. gail
    They are the soldiers of the South for sure. I’ve landscapers haul them down the road with not a thing to secure them. One will fall and get beat to pieces. It jumps right back up and goes on to bloom forever. I bet the ones in my great, great , grandmother’s yard are over 200 years old.

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  16. Marnie says:

    Crepemyrtle is one of the things I miss most. When I lived in Alabama it was a favorite. Now I’m back in IL and have traded them for lilacs. (I never could get lilacs to bloom in AL altho the bushes grew well.)
    Marnie
    As I look out in my neighborhood, I can see more than can be counted. There are also many Doogwoods, Cherries, and Bradfords which will all bloom very soon. The pictures will be great.

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  17. Phillip (UK) says:

    Sylvia is right, but it obviously ought to be more popular. Fascinating post Anna, really enjoyed reading it.
    I knew you would like it. I can’t wait to show my yard in about two years when they are much more mature. I seem to remember from my former home that it took about 5 years to really make them all a wow statement.

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  18. Sylvia (England) says:

    Anna, this is a plant I don’t think I have ever seen. It doesn’t seem popular in the UK perhaps it doesn’t like our cool/wet summers!

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)
    All those places I lived in the military and I never paid attention to their absence of the myrtle. Most bloom for well over 100 days.

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