OUR FAVORITE SUMMER PERENNIALS
Summer has arrived and with that the beautiful blooms of the Crepe Mrytle! With our 32nd annual Crepe Myrtle Fest just weeks away, we hope you are planning ways to compliment your Crepe Myrtles. Here’s our favorite summer perennials that are a sure way to showcase your Crepe Myrtles giving you a show-stopping summer landscape year after year.
Perennial Hibiscus plants provide dramatic, tropical blooms all summer long. These perennials are easy to grow and once established can last for years in your garden giving you massive blooms. We recommend Cherry Cheesecake, Summer Storm, and Plum Fantasy.
Gaillardia Moxie. This summer bloomer loves the sun, does not require a lot of water and blooms for a long time. Gaillardia, also known as Blanket Flower, is quite showy in summer shades of yellow. They look amazing in the garden or planted in containers. They grow about 18 – 24 inches tall and spreads about the same so they definitely mix wonderfully with other flowers. The extra bonus about this perennial is that not only does it also attract butterflies but is also deer resistant, which is a big plus. We recommend Moxie, Fanfare Blaze, and Arizona Sun.
These prized trees are one of the darlings of Hampton Roads – in assorted shades of pinks from pastel to fuchsia. We recommend Raspberry Summer, Summer Glow and Summer Sky.
You simply can’t beat Lantana for summer-long blooms and heat tolerance. This easy to grow plant is sure to make an impact in your landscape. It’s a magnet for butterflies too! We recommend Miss Huff.
These sun-loving flowers will be a wonderful addition to your garden design, blooming for most of the summer. They bloom bright, daisy-like flowers providing a sunny pop of color. We recommend Moonbeam, Sunset Strip and Red Satin.
A fantastic choice for any sunny garden, the Coneflower is a proven performer in the heat of summer. It is often seen in summer landscapes to attract butterflies and for use as cut flowers. <We recommend Sombrero Red and Sombrero Hot Coral, Pow Wow White & Wildberry.
Enjoy these low-maintenance perennials that thrive in full sun and absolutlely love the heat. These classic beauties are available in many varieties bringing you vibrant color all summer long! We recommend Jazz King, Jamaica Sunrise, and Key Largo Moon.
- 6 Ways to Use the Crepe Myrtle Tree for Landscaping
- 2. Plant It in a Container
- 3. Use It to Frame an Entrance
- 4. Underplant It with Small Plant Varieties
- 5. Combine It with Other Shrubs
- 6. Plant It Overlooking a Sitting Area
- Summing It All Up
- Crepe Myrtle Root System: Are Crepe Myrtle Roots Invasive
- Are Crepe Myrtle Roots Invasive?
- Do Crepe Myrtles Have Invasive Seeds?
- What You Need to Know About Growing Crape Myrtles
- Are you looking to add that something extra to your yard?
- Crepe Myrtles
- Beginner’s Guide to Crepe Myrtle Care
6 Ways to Use the Crepe Myrtle Tree for Landscaping
The crepe myrtle tree is one of the most popular landscaping trees and with good reason. Not only does it bloom gorgeously in summer, ensuring your garden will be full of color, but it also grows quickly and provides shade to the surrounding area. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the crepe myrtle is that its architecture can really make the most of any landscape. Since this is what most people use it for, we thought we’d provide you with 6 ideas on how to use crepe myrtle for landscaping purposes.
One of the first ways in which you can use a crepe myrtle is to create a space dedicated only to planting this type of tree. Whether you choose to plant one single tree or more trees of the same kind is completely up to you. The overall idea remains the same. The goal is to make the crepe myrtle tree stand out, which is going to happen especially in summer when it blooms. That’s when you’ll get to enjoy a colorful oasis of beautiful flowers.
In order to make sure you’ll do this right, we advise you to choose a crepe myrtle variety that doesn’t grow as tall or wide. That’s because this might cause it to exceed the boundaries you’ve established for the oasis. In turn, you’ll have to prune the trees, and this might damage their appearance. Moreover, when you plant the trees, consider the location carefully. Make sure that when the trees develop, they won’t get in the way of power lines, walkways, or buildings.
If you’re thinking of planting more crepe myrtles next to each other, you should go for a smaller variety. After all, you don’t want your plants fighting for space. On the other hand, if you want to make just one tree the center of attention, choose a dramatic variety that grows tall and wide, and that will provide you with a lot of flowers.
2. Plant It in a Container
Were you thinking crepe myrtles are impossible to plant in containers? Then you’ll be happy to hear this is actually an option. All you have to do is choose a dwarf crepe myrtle variety and a large container. While keeping it inside is not the best option, this is the perfect setting for a deck, patio, or terrace. It will instantly make it look better.
For container growing, we suggest the “Petite” crepe myrtle series, with varieties such as “Petite Plum”, “Petite Embers”, “Petite orchid”, or “Petite Red Imp”. They only reach a height of 5 feet, which is more than enough for a container. The “Petite” varieties all have yellow foliage which gives them a permanent autumnal look.
Planting crepe myrtle dwarfs in containers isn’t a difficult task. All you need is some quality potting soil that contains sand, peat moss, and perlite (in equal parts). Also, remember that the pot you use has to have at least one drainage hole. This will prevent water from drowning your plants and causing them to rot.
3. Use It to Frame an Entrance
Another creative way of using crepe myrtle trees for landscaping is to frame an entrance, be it the entrance to your yard or to your house, using a pair of matching trees. In terms of size, medium-sized crepe myrtles are the best for the job. A large variety would grow to overshadow the entrance, while a small variety might not be imposing enough to make the entrance stand out.
The “Acoma” variety would be a perfect option. It has a rounded shape, and it reaches a width of 11 feet and a height of 10 feet. Its foliage turns red in autumn and its blooms are white. The “Pink Velour” variety is shaped like a vase and has neon pink blooms. As if this wasn’t enough to make it stand out, in autumn, its foliage becomes yellow-orange. Finally, another recommendation would be the “Catawba” variety. This one is a bit smaller than the other two. It has dark purple blooms which are definitely a treat for the eyes. Moreover, its foliage turns reddish-orange in autumn.
Planting a matching pair of crepe myrtle trees at the entrance to your yard or house is a great idea. Why? Well, first of all, because for the people who love symmetry, it will be an extremely satisfying view. Second of all, because it will bring a touch of color and life to a place that people use on a daily basis. That way, whenever someone visits you, they’ll definitely notice the two gorgeous plants framing your entrance.
4. Underplant It with Small Plant Varieties
Crepe myrtle trees also look great when combined with other plant varieties. In this case, since the trees are typically big and imposing, you should choose smaller plants to grow under them. One excellent example would be some ground covers. They’re small, so they won’t overshadow the crepe myrtle, but they’re also beautiful and rich, so they won’t go unnoticed.
Another example would be perennials, which have an extensive life cycle, so they’ll be around for a long time. Even though they’re taller than ground covers, they’re still the right size to pair with some crepe myrtle trees. The same goes for spring bulbs such as daffodils or tulips. They’ll bloom when the crepe myrtles don’t, creating a lovely contrast between the trees’ foliage and their colorful flowers.
All of the examples above are perfect for planting under a crepe myrtle tree, mostly because they complement it. Especially if you don’t enjoy leaving empty spaces under trees, or you want to make the most of the little space you have in your garden, this is a great way to grow more plants without needing extra room.
5. Combine It with Other Shrubs
Going back to dwarf crepe myrtle varieties, there’s another creative way in which you can use them for landscaping. That’s to combine them with other types of shrubs of the same size. The butterfly bush and the Rose of Sharon are two amazing options. Their color and shape allow you to plant them next to crepe myrtles, be it in an irregular fashion or in neat garden borders.
Perennials that grow lower than dwarf crepe myrtles are also an option. The iris and the daylily make perfect companions for the crepe myrtle. As an extra tip, you could use ornamental grasses in between these different types of shrubs and perennials. This won’t only provide more texture, but also make that spot in your garden a year-round interest.
6. Plant It Overlooking a Sitting Area
Not everyone has enough space in their garden or backyard for a sitting area. Still, there are ways to work around this. All you need is a desire to create a space where you can relax in the garden. If you have enough room to grow a crepe myrtle tree, you can always create a sitting area right underneath it. That way, you’ll use that space that would have gone to waste anyway.
The great thing about this idea is that you’ll get natural shade due to the crepe myrtle tree, as well as a lovely view. As you can see, in the picture above, there are two opposing trees overlooking a sitting space that contains a table and four chairs. If this is not something the size of your garden allows you to do, you can always plant just one crepe myrtle tree and add a small bench or a swing under it. This will instantly create a relaxing and idyllic place in your garden.
When planting crepe myrtles overlooking a sitting area you can also plant some liriope at the bottom of their trunks. This will make the trees look less bland, especially during the seasons when they’re not in full bloom. Moreover, it will provide some extra texture to the entire yard.
Summing It All Up
As we hope we were able to show in today’s article, there are many ways in which you can use crepe myrtle trees for landscaping purposes. We tried to include ideas for every taste, desire, and requirement, so hopefully, you’ve managed to find at least one that inspired you and convinced you to try it out at home.
No matter where you want to plant crepe myrtles or what variety you decide on, you should know that they make great cut flowers. Not only due to their gorgeous colors, but also due to their refreshing and reinvigorating smell. While we don’t recommend cutting a lot of flowers from your trees – since they’re the main attraction and it would be a pity to rob the tree of its flowers – cutting a couple every now and then won’t hurt the plant. Especially if you own several crepe myrtle varieties in different colors, creating a bouquet for your home is something you should definitely consider.
If you want to start planting crepe myrtles in your garden, here’s where you can find a small container tree that you can transplant in your garden.
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Crepe Myrtle Root System: Are Crepe Myrtle Roots Invasive
Crepe myrtle trees are lovely, delicate trees offering bright, spectacular flowers in the summer and beautiful fall color when the weather begins to chill. But are crepe myrtle roots invasive enough to cause problems? You don’t have to worry about this issue because crepe myrtle tree roots are not invasive.
Are Crepe Myrtle Roots Invasive?
The crepe myrtle is a small tree, rarely growing taller than 30 feet. Beloved by gardeners for its luxurious summer blossoms in shades of pink and white, the tree also offers exfoliating bark and an autumn foliage display. If you are thinking about planting one in the garden, don’t worry about the invasiveness of crepe myrtles and their roots. The crepe myrtle root system will not harm your foundation.
The crepe myrtle root system can extend a considerable distance but the roots are not aggressive. The roots are relatively weak and will not insert themselves into nearby foundations, sidewalks or endanger nearly plants. Crepe myrtle roots do not sink taproots deep into the ground or send lateral roots out to crack anything in their path. In fact, the entire crepe myrtle root system is shallow and fibrous, spreading out horizontally up to three times as far as the canopy is wide.
On the other hand, it is wise to keep all trees at least 5 to 10 feet away from walkways and foundations. The crepe myrtle is no exception. In addition, the root system grows so close to the surface of the soil that you shouldn’t plant flowers in the area below the tree. Even grass might compete with the shallow crepe myrtle roots for water.
Do Crepe Myrtles Have Invasive Seeds?
Some experts list crepe myrtles as potentially invasive plants, but the invasiveness of crepe myrtle has nothing to do with the crepe myrtle tree roots. Rather, the tree reproduces so readily from its seeds that, once the seeds escape cultivation, the resulting trees can crowd out native plants in the wild.
Since most of the popular crepe myrtle cultivars are hybrid and do not produce seeds, reproduction by seeds in the wild is not a problem. This means that you do not risk introducing an invasive species by planting a crepe myrtle in the backyard.
What You Need to Know About Growing Crape Myrtles
Are you looking to add that something extra to your yard?
Growing trees can be difficult depending on the environment. The soil, sun, and amount of rain your area gets all plays a role in how well your tree will do. Today, we are sharing some great tips and tricks about growing crape myrtles. Whether you call them crape myrtles or crepe myrtles, these trees are gorgeous additions to any landscape.
You may already know that fall is a perfect time to plant trees. Choosing which trees to plant is the first step. The crape myrtle might be just the right tree to make as the focal point in your backyard or the perfect tree to add a little pop of color to your front yard.
Crape myrtles are wonderful for warmer climates because they do so well in summer heat. They come in an array of beautiful colors from white to deep red. This tree will flower during the summer time and grows best in zone 6-9. If you are not sure what zone you live in, you can find that out by reading How to Understand Gardening Zones.
According to Southern Living, crape myrtles are an excellent choice for those who live in southern climates. This is because the tree, “tolerates heat, humidity, drought; does well in most soils as long as they are well drained.” There are a number of crape myrtle varieties.
The United States National Arboretum reports that there are 29 different crape myrtle varieties to choose from. There are dwarf crape myrtles that grow less than 3 feet tall and others that grow as tall as 30 feet. Popular varieties include:
- Osage Crape Myrtle – clear pink flowers that grows up to 15 feet
- Natchez Crape Myrtle– white flowers that grows up to 30 feet
- Miami Crape Myrtle – dark coral pink flowers that grows up to 25 feet
One of the hardest aspects about growing a tree is bringing the tree home from the nursery. The tree will actually go into a state of shock. Sometimes the transfer is too much even for hardy trees like crape myrtles. The best way to act against that is by installing a direct to root watering system.
When a new tree is planted the roots are seeking out nutrients. Often times the nutrients are sitting on the top of the soil. So instead of growing deeper into the ground the roots seek the nutrients that are on top of the soil.
The direct to root watering system get the nutrients to the root zone. Now the nutrients are deeper into the soil and that is where the roots will grow. As we all know, deep roots equals a stronger tree.
What tree are you planning to plant this fall?
SERIES 19 | Episode 08
A favourite and spectacular tree is the Lagerstroemia indica, or crepe myrtle. I planted one in my backyard about 12 years ago and it’s absolutely amazing. I chose it because of its versatility. It flowers from early January through until the end of March, has beautiful spring growth, autumn foliage and a spectacular trunk, with patterned bark.
The Lagerstroemia indica species of crepe myrtle are probably the most widely available in Australia and flower in a range of colours – white, red, pink and deep mauve. The crepe myrtle flowers are wonderful – each petal is really like crepe paper, very wrinkly and crinkly, and that’s where it gets its name. Remember that crepe myrtles can be grown as a standard, a miniature, a low-growing spreading plant, a small shrub, a small tree and even a large tree.
Some to look out for are:
- Lagerstroemia indica, ‘New Orleans’ is available in shrub-form but can also be grown as a standard. It looks great in a large pot and is perfect for a courtyard garden.
- ‘Natchez’ – will eventually reach about eight metres and it’s got a clear, white flower as well as quite spectacular markings on the trunk.
- The development of hybrids between the L.indica and the L.fauriei species has resulted in varieties of crepe myrtle that are resistant to a fungal disease known as powdery mildew, and that’s a major problem that can afflict the older varieties of the crepe myrtle.
- Another hybrid is ‘Yuma’ with its fantastic mauve flowers
- There are also low-growing varieties such as ‘Houston’ which grows to about 60 to 70 centimetres high, spreads out to maybe a metre or a metre and a half. These plants are low-growing and have been specially selected to grow as standards.
- For white flowers in the garden, it’s hard to go past ‘Pixie White’. It grows to about two metres and suits garden beds, either growing singularly or as a massed feature.
All crepe myrtles grow well in Australia. They especially like a hot and dry climate. They transplant well from a pot or buy them as a bare-rooted plant in winter. Get them established with plenty of water, to ensure the root system develops well. Once established, crepe myrtles are remarkably drought-tolerant.
And pruning a crepe myrtle is really simple. Wait until the flowers have finished and then cut it back at least 30 centimetres. I like pruning quite hard because in spring the branch will shoot out with new growth. But if you don’t want to prune, then just let the plant grow to its natural shape. Propagate crepe myrtles from hardwood cuttings taken in winter.
Crepe myrtles create interest all year and are adaptable to many sized gardens. All varieties provide striking colour in summer, wonderful autumn foliage and in winter have beautiful, ornate bark.
Beginner’s Guide to Crepe Myrtle Care
Nothing says summer in the South like crepe myrtles. They grow so easily and bloom so long that we love them like family members—except in late winter and spring, when they are routinely chopped down to thick, ugly stumps (a crime known as “crepe murder”). A big reason people do this is because they’ll buy a crepe myrtle only for its color without checking how big their plant will get. So when it inevitably blocks the upstairs windows, out comes the pruning saw. Let’s put a stop to this terrible practice now by choosing crepe myrtles according to color and size and by reading labels when you shop. Regular watering will be key to the survival of your crepe myrtle once planted. Make sure the roots stay moist as long as it’s warm. Next year, your plant will need much less water.
The South’s love affair with crepe myrtles is undeniable. In some areas, you see them on practically every street–and for good reason. Few plants can match their combination of spectacular summer flowers, colorful autumn foliage, and handsome sculptural trunks. If you’re thinking of adding one or more crepe myrtles to your landscape this season, the following tips will help you make a good decision.
Selecting the Right Crepe Myrtle
Seeing a crepe myrtle in its full summer splendor sends some of us running to the garden shop to buy a plant the same color. But don’t buy impulsively. Pay attention to the plant’s tag. Make sure that it is not only the exact color that you want, but also the right size and look you hope to achieve.
Crepe myrtles range in size from dwarf selections that grow less than 3 feet tall to several that reach upwards of 30 feet. Knowing the mature height of a plant before you buy it and planting the proper size for the site will save you much heartache and backache in the future. If you’re in the Upper South, you should also look for selections that are extra cold-hardy.
Where to Plant Crepe Myrtles
Crepe myrtles have many landscape uses. Planted together, they make a large deciduous hedge or screen. A single tree can create a distinctive focal point, while a pair framing a front door greets visitors with a warm Southern welcome.
Be sure to choose the right size for your needs. The larger types need room to grow without encroaching on buildings, power lines, or walkways. Medium-size selections that will grow from 12 to 15 feet are perfect for a small courtyard or garden home. The dwarf selections look great in large containers, foundation plantings, and even incorporated into perennial beds. Also, remember that crepe myrtles love sun. The amount of flower production is greatly reduced in light shade, and full shade can prevent blooming altogether.
How to Prune Crepe Myrtles for More Flowers
Once crepe myrtles have bloomed and shed their first flowers, they will set seed. The small round seedpods or capsules usually weigh the limbs down, making them sag. Using a sharp pair of clippers, cut off the seedpods. New shoots with buds will quickly appear, and you will get a second bloom. If the temperatures stay warm into the fall and you continue to remove spent flowers, you may get a third or fourth.
How to Plant Crepe Myrtles
Late fall to early spring is the best time to plant. But a lot of folks buy and plant their crepe myrtle in summer because they select it while it is blooming. That works too, but watering well during the summer months is crucial to transitioning it into your garden. No matter when you plant, water your crepe myrtle well before putting it in the ground. This will help it take up water after planting. Mulch to conserve moisture and keep down weeds. Apply a fertilizer such as Schultz Starter Plus Transplanting Solution or Vigoro Starter Fertilizer as recommended on the label.
Troubleshooting Common Crepe Myrtle Problems
As soon as crepe myrtle leaves unfurl, look for aphids. Their sugary excretions causes sooty mold. This covers the leaves, making them look black and unattractive; a bad infestation will eventually turn leaves yellow and may hinder blooming.
Control these pests by spraying with insecticides that target aphids (such as malathion, diazinon, or ultra-fine horticultural oil) in the summer as soon as they appear. Spray both sides of the foliage thoroughly, and be sure to get the tips of new shoots and flowerbuds. Repeat this treatment as necessary.
A white powdery fungus called powdery mildew sometimes attacks the leaves of many older selections of crepe myrtles. Although the disease may keep the trees from blooming when it becomes severe, most trees aren’t permanently damaged.
You can prevent this problem by planting a mildew-resistant selection. For susceptible types, spraying the foliage at first sign of disease with Funginex, Immunox, or summer horticultural oil will keep the powdery mildew from spreading; repeat sprays are necessary.
A commercial wrap called Bush Jacket protects a young, cold-hardy inside heading into winter.
I planted a new crape myrtle this summer and am wondering how I should go about protecting it over the winter. I read you’re supposed to “wrap it in burlap.” Do I do that around the whole tree or just the base? The plant is 4 feet high. Would a heavy, clear plastic cover (to let in sunlight) along with mulch be a better idea.
A: Assuming you bought the crape myrtle locally, it should be a winter-hardy variety that probably won’t need winter protection – at least in the long run and especially if you planted it correctly, kept it watered and planted early enough in the season that the roots have had a chance to take hold.
Our warm recent winters also have been making crape myrtles more of a solid bet lately.
Your specific planting site could make a difference as well. A plant near a south- or west-facing stone wall, for example, will have a warmer microclimate than one out in the middle of the yard or sitting in a low-lying area at the base of the hill (a frost pocket).
That said, it’s not a bad idea to “wrap” your crape myrtle this first winter.
Keep in mind that crape myrtles – like all new trees and shrubs – are at their most winter-vulnerable in the early years while their roots are establishing.
Winter barriers should go the whole way up the plant – not just around the base – in order to protect the branches as well as the root zone.
Burlap is a good material because it “breathes” better than solid coverings. You can also buy commercial tree wraps.
Either way, keep the wrap back a few inches from touching the branches. Hammer three stakes around the crape myrtle and wrap the burlap around those. Some people then stuff the little “burlap tent” with leaves for extra warmth over winter.
Plastic is a bad idea. For starters, the branches don’t need light when they’re dormant and bare over winter. But more importantly, heat trapped by the plastic on warm days can lead to plant damage, including bark splits and encouraging buds to come out too soon in spring (resulting in late frost damage).
Mulch around the base of the crape myrtle is a good idea. Three inches is fine and keep it back away from the bark by a few inches.
I should mention one thing that sometimes happens with crape myrtles in our area – in cold winters, the top growth dies back even though the roots are alive. New shoots eventually emerge from the roots.
So if you find what looks to be a dead tree next spring, don’t dig it. Wait at least until June to see if new shoots emerge. Even when everything’s fine, crape myrtles are always one of the last plants to leaf out, usually in May.
Here’s a profile on one of my favorite crape myrtles, ‘Tonto.’