Tuesday, July 29th, 2008...12:00 am

Lagerstroemia aka Crape Myrtle

This GardenLady is absolutely delighted with her Lagerstroemia -Crape Myrtle this summer. Just a few years old it is blooming its head off. It is gorgeous! A showstopper. And this flowering shrub or tree can bloom up to 120 days- from July through September. I don’t think there is a flowering tree or shrub that can beat or even match that kind of blooming period. TheGardenLady is “johnny come lately” to having a Crape Myrtle because she nevever thought the Crape Myrtel would grow in her temperature zone.

Since the Crape Myrtle was native to Asia, it seemed to be happiest growing in the South. It likes sun and heat, not freezing  and cold weather.  Whenever, in the past TheGardenLady had seen Crape Myrtles growing in the area TheGardenLady lived, they seemed to be grown in protected areas. TheGardenLady is not the type of gardener who works with plants that are difficult, that need to be treated in special ways. There is so much work caring with plants and there can be many  problems with typical plants that TheGardenLady, who does all her own work, did not want to tempt fate with a plant that had finicky needs.

Still TheGardenLady saw more and more Crape Myrtle growing in her area. While visiting the Brooklyn Botanical Garden there is an area called the Crape-Myrtle Walk. Though they seemed to grow in a sheltered site, the Crape Myrtles along the Crape-Myrtle Walk are huge magnificent species. And where TheGardenLady lives there were more and more Crape Myrtles being planted in unsheltered places.

It was then that TheGardenLady learned that many of the most popular crape myrtle varieties available for sale these days are hybrids obtained by crossing Lagerstroemia indica with L. fauriei or L. speciosa at the U.S. National Arboretum. These hybrids are known as the Indian Tribe group. These Crape Myrtles, named for native American Indian Tribes, are noted for mildew resistance (a problem that looks ugly so that gardeners don’t want that in their gardens) and they have improved hardiness (TheGardenLady has read that people up to Massachusetts can raise them) so that they can do well in TheGardenLady’s Zone 6.

For an excellent site that has links to many important Crape Myrtle sites and information on raising and caring for Crape Myrtles check out this.

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