458 Highway 98 North
Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578
Phone: (863) 763-6469
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August 8, 2008
|Quick Links: Another Great Crape Dwarf Myrtles References|
Feature Article - for release the week of August 10, 2008
Angela Sachson & Dan Culbert – Florida Yards & Neighborhoods
One of the most rewarding of
Florida Friendly plants is the Crape Myrtle. It is
native to India and very well suited to Florida. It can
be used as a tree, a large shrub, a container plant and,
in the case of newer dwarf varieties, a small shrub.
It is a beautiful plant
with peeling bark and clusters of blooms in many colors
of reds, pinks, lavenders and white In south Florida, it
blooms from spring through summer and if seed pods are
removed it will bloom longer since the flowers appear on
Crape Myrtle is drought
tolerant once established and can be pruned to take many
shapes— tree, multi-stemmed small tree, and bush. Once
it gets established the Crape Myrtle is not demanding.
Plant it in full sun in any kind of soil. Feed it a with
slow-release fertilizer, water until it gets established
and it will reward you with beautiful foliage and six to
twelve inch ruffled flowers.
You will probably need to
cut off sprouts at the base of the plant. Root them if
you want to— Crape Myrtle is easily propagated by
removing a few lower leaves, poking the sprout or
cutting in a pot, and keeping it moist while it grows
roots. Give away these little Myrtles and we can all
enjoy seeing more Myrtles around here.
Crape Myrtle is nearly
pest free—especially if you purchase one which is bred
to resist aphids and resulting sooty mold. If you do see
aphids on your plant, attack them weekly for a couple
of weeks with insecticidal soap.
This plant can be easily
pruned in very early spring but pruning should be done
with care. Small twiggy growth and crossing, crowded
branches should be thinned out from underneath and
within the canopy. This keeps the trunk clean and allows
air circulation, helping to prevent powdery mildew.
But severe topping and pruning is referred to as
“Crape murder” and should be avoided.
A typical summer landscape in the South includes colorful crepe myrtles. Photo: UF/IFAS
Trunks of Crepe Myrtle show a patchwork of colors, adding to interest in the winter when this plant is dormant. Photo: UF/IFAS
This Crepe Myrtle has been pruned to keep only one central trunk. It looks like a tree, know as a "standard" to gardeners. Photo: UF/IFAS
This improperly pruned Crepe Myrtle will not produce any bloom during the next few growing seasons. This is an example of "Crepe Murder." Photo: Dan Culbert, UF/IFAS
Queen Crepe Myrtle (a.k.a. Pride of India) is a larger species of this plant. Photo courtesy: Yamasaki Lab. Plant Photo Gallery
This Gator is smiling at the nice dwarf crepe myrtle, a so-called myrtlette. Photo courtesy of http://www.crapemyrtle.com/
I know you probably have a Crape Myrtle or two in your landscape but since I am promoting them today let me tell you about some lesser-known beauties. One of these may become your new Crape Myrtle.
Queens Crape Myrtle
(see photo above) is a
kind of spectacular giant Myrtle on steroids. It is
considered a moderate to large tropical tree and can
reach a height of 40-60 feet and 30-40 feet wide. It can grow in our zones
10B and 11 and features 12-inch leaves and foot-long
blooms in pink or lavender. It is, like your Crape
Myrtle, deciduous; and the leaves turn red before
falling in winter. It has most of the attributes of the
smaller Crape Myrtle except that it is not frost
tolerant, especially when young. There are some growing
in Okeechobee now but it is some time since Okeechobee
has had frost. If you want to try this mammoth beauty,
consider the pink cultivar “Nong Nooch,” a real
Looking for something
Sometimes referred to as
“Myrttlettes”, dwarf Crape Myrtles grow only three
to four feet high. They are good for mid-range in a
border and could even be used as a ground cover on a
slope. They come in all the colors of their larger
relatives and their needs and attributes are basically
the same. They are also often used for bonsai culture.
Lastly, some newer
cultivars are the mini-myrtles. These plants are usually
smaller, ranging from 12 to 30 inches tall. The Southern
Nursery Association has developed a list of favorites
including one called Houston which tops out at 20 inches
tall. I have not seen one of the minis but am looking
around now. I would think they would be good in a
pot—especially a hanging pot.
Crape Myrtles are a landscape bargain. They grow quickly and with minimal care. New ones are easy to propagate and older ones are drought tolerant. They like just about any soil. Their roots are not invasive so they can be planted where other trees might not make it. There are disease and pest resistant varieties and even the pests that do attack are easy to defeat. They come in many colors and sizes from 60 feet to several inches. Let's have as many as we have room for!
For more information and especially to learn about different cultivars, follow this link: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MG266. If you need additional information on Crepe Myrtles, please email us at email@example.com or call us at 863-763-6469. In Highlands County call 863-402-6540 and in Glades County call 863-946-0244. Okeechobee residents can stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North in Okeechobee. Go Gators!
Trade names, where used, are given for the purpose of providing specific information. They do not constitute an endorsement or guarantee of products named, nor does it imply criticism of products not named. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin. Florida Cooperative Extension Service / IFAS / University of Florida, Nick Place, Dean for Extension. Last update: 07/24/2012. This page is maintained by Dan Culbert.
Common Crape Myrtle. Auburn University Extension Service, Alabama. [covers cultural practices for the deep south, plus an extensive cultivar chart complete with photos.] http://www.ag.auburn.edu/landscape/crapemyrtle2.htm
Gilman, E & Watson, D. Japanese Crape-Myrtle Lagerstroemia fauriei. [ST-341]. Gainesville: UF/IFAS Extension Service, November, 1993. http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/LAGFAUA.pdf
ibid. Crepe Myrtle [ST-342]. Gainesville: UF/IFAS Extension Service, November, 1993. http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/laginda.pdf
ibid. Queens Crape-Myrtle Lagerstroemia speciosa [ST-349]. UF/IFAS Extension Service, November, 1993. http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/database/documents/pdf/tree_fact_sheets/lagspea.pdf
Jordi, B. "Nassau County Extension and Lowes Form Crepe Myrtle Partnership." Callahan: UF/IFAS Nassau County Extension Service, February, 2012. http://nassau.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/lowes.html
Knox, Gary. Crape
Myrtles in Florida [ENH 52]. Gainesville:
Florida Cooperative Extension Service, 12/2003. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg266
Mullins, Daniel E. Santa Rosa County Extension Agent. Improper Pruning Damages Crape Myrtles. Pensacola News Journal, February 9, 2002. http://leon.ifas.ufl.edu/News_Columns/2002/021402.pdf
Parsons, Jerry and Lineberger, Dan. Characteristics of Crape Myrtle Varieties. [Nice reference webpage showing photos of many varieties of Crepe Myrtles..] College Station: Texas A&M University, 8/12/2005. http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/databases/crapemyrtle/crape_myrtle_varieties.html