Daily Archives: July 26, 2013

Crape Myrtles and Southern Gardens

I grew up on the Southeast coast of North Carolina. The weather is humid and subtropical. The winters are very mild and the hot summer days are often followed by short rain storms. I did not realize how much the ocean breezes cooled the air until I moved about an hour-and-half inland to attend college. The summer air was so humid and thick you could cut it with a knife!

The good side, as a gardener, is I could grow so many tropical species down there! Now I am two-and-half hours from the coast and the winters are just a bit colder but not by much thanks to climate change.

Crepe Myrtles are a very popular tree or large shrub throughout the South. The flowers originally came in shades of red and pink but now there are whites and lavenders and purples. There are also a few sections with burgundy foliage, also.

NCSU has a very nice list of the cultivars with descriptions of flower color and growth habits:

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/trees-new/lagerstroemia_indica.html

A few photos for Crape Myrtles around Raleigh, North Carolina.

I call this color watermelon. These are in my neighborhood.

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A pink Crape Myrtle in Cameron Village Shopping Center.

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A young group of mixed colors near Cup-A-Joe.

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And a beautiful purple Crape Myrtle in front of The Reader’s Corner.

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This beautiful red one on Oberlin Road has a very nice shape.

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And a white one photographed late in the evening.

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Crape Myrtles need to only be pruned to removed crossed limbs or damaged or low hanging limbs. Some varieties have beautiful bark that can peel in beautiful strips which revel shades of red and brown.

Unfortunately, most landscape crews do not know how to prune this heavy blooming plant. They tend to prune crape myrtles as if they are herbaceous perennials.

This promotes an awful water- sprout type growth.

These are weak stems which may eventually split the main trunk where they are attached. This type of pruning creates a look of a pollarded tree. Its not attractive or healthy for any tree.

Just say NO and don’t.

No! No! No! If you are in doubt that your Crape Myrtles need to be pruned. Just don’t do it. They will look better with a more natural shape anyway.

This is a properly pruned crape myrtle.

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This pruning allows the a more natural shape to develope which allows the beautiful and colorful bark to be seen.

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🙂

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