For The Love Of Crape Myrtles

What tree blooms throughout the summer, is drought hardy and not fazed by the Texas heat and sun? The Crape Myrtle! It has been bred into many different species that range from 1 foot to 20 feet tall and in a variety of shades of red, pink, lavender, purple and white.

Bloom time in East Texas begins in June and lasts through late September. There are newer species that have dark burgundy or almost black leaves which creates an amazing color contrast with the colorful blooms.

Crapes are naturally multi-stemmed but some species are groomed as a single trunk tree. Their bark is thin and peels off during the year which adds to their beauty. However, this makes them vulnerable to damage from lawnmowers and weed eaters – if planted in an open space, place a tree ring or other edging around them to prevent equipment from getting too close.

Snowmageddon wasn’t able to kill these hardy plants. Depending on the variety and amount of exposure to the northerly winds many leafed out as usual while some did die down to the root ball but are growing back vigorously and will reach their former height.

My suggestion when choosing a crape myrtle is to know the maximum mature height the tree can be for the place you are planting it. There are crape myrtles in all colors and sizes to fit almost every spot so don’t purchase one that will grow too tall.

They are low maintenance and only require minimal trimming. The act of “topping” and cutting the plant to a certain height, although common, is a terrible one. Neil Sperry and most other horticulturalists agree that “Crape Murder” is a no-no. As stated above, choose a tree that is the right height and there is no need for topping.

I along with many others thought with the spread of Crape Myrtle Scale these trees would lose their attraction and popularity. Thankfully, that has not been the case. With the use of an easy, preventative drench poured around the Crape Myrtle annually the scale is no longer a threat. These colorful trees will continue to thrive and add color to our landscapes for years of enjoyment.

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