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Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) are often thought of as a southern plant. In actuality, these heavily flowering deciduous landscaping gems are adaptable to a fairly wide range of temperatures. Growing in hardiness zones 7-9, they are cold hardy as long as winter temperatures don’t sink below zero degrees.

Throughout their growing range, crape myrtles are most often seen as heavily pruned small trees that flower their hearts out during the summer. Landscape designers often use them in mass plantings around malls or commercial buildings or as specimen plants in flower beds. Dwarf crape myrtles are ideal for containers.

Is it Necessary to Heavily Prune a Crape Myrtle?

That depends. If you love the bright pink flowers and bronze maroon foliage of Choctaw, but want a 12′ landscape tree, you’ll be pruning a lot. Choctaw would like to become a beautiful, rounded tree up to 30′ tall. Incidentally, a 20′-30′ tall crape myrtle in full bloom will stop traffic; it’s just that incredibly gorgeous. Muskogee (light lavender) and Natchez (white) will both become spectacular 25-’30’ trees.

Most are smaller, happy to remain at 12′-15′. If the right size plant is chosen, a late winter pruning will be all that is needed. Crape Myrtles flower on new growth, so don’t wait too long.

Mass Plantings

The low-maintenance Crape Myrtle is ideal for mass plantings. Here are some suggestions.

crape-myrtleShrubs and Small Trees

White: Acoma, Burgundy Cotton
Light to Medium Pink: Caddo, Comanche, Hopi
Dark Pink or Red: Cherokee, Pecos, Tonto
Lavender or Purple: Catawba, Powhatan, Velma’s Royal Delight

Containers and Flower Borders

White: Petite Snow
Light to Medium Pink: Petite Pinkie
Dark Pink or Red: Petite Red Imp
Lavender or Purple: Berry Dazzle Dwarf, Petite Orchid, Petite Plum

The two biggest “secrets” of great gardens are plant selection and good soil. Fortunately, the Crape Myrtle is not as picky as many plants, preferring a slightly acidic soil, but doing well over a wide geographic range as long as the soil is well-drained. Plant selection and quality is the real key when it comes to selecting permanent plants for the landscape and flowering borders.

Here at Pantano Nursery in Manalapan Township, NJ, we carry a wide selection of the finest and most beautiful plants available from the best growers at competitive prices. Pantano Premium Plants are hand-selected for superior performance, hardiness and over-all quality. These outstanding varieties are ready to star in your healthy, vigorous landscape, year after year.

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