LAGERSTROEMIA: Crape Myrtle
The common name is spelled both Crape Myrtle and Crepe Myrtle. The traditional Southern spelling is "Crepe" Myrtle because the delicate flowers resemble crepe paper.
There are some 50 species of deciduous or evergreen Lagerstroemia shrubs and small trees. Flowers occur in panicles, cone-shaped clusters at branch tips, and resemble crepe paper with their finely crinkled texture.
White, pink and lavender flowering forms are commonly available. Truly red flowers can be difficult to find, as flowers described as red are often dark pink instead. Bloom occurs from July through September and berries follow. Leaves turn deep mahogany and red in autumn before falling to reveal beautiful peeling red or gray bark.
Plants are available in a wide range of mature sizes, from dwarf forms maturing at 3-4’ to trees growing to 15-18’.
Genus: Lagerstroemia – named for Magnus von Lagerstrom (1691-1759), a Swedish merchant and friend of Linnaeus
Common: Crape Myrtle or Crepe Myrtle
Origin: Native to Japan, China and Korea
Culture: Crape Myrtles love sun and heat, and will benefit from improved soil drainage, so adding compost at the time of planting is helpful. Plants thrive in the hot climates of the Southern U.S. where Lagerstroemia is the Texas state shrub. Most cultivated varieties are hardy to USDA zone 7.
Diseases: Powdery Mildew is a common problem for Crape Myrtle that can be helped by improving soil drainage at the time of planting, increasing air circulation around the plant and avoiding wetting the foliage when watering. Many sprays are available for treatment as well.