Crepe Myrtle – Lagerstroemia
The crepe myrtle is a small tree that can also be shaped to remain a shrub. They are characteristic of the south, as they have a high tolerance to drought and the intense heat of the southern summers. There are dozens of species from the genus Lagerstroemia, each characterized by a different color of the bloom. You should remove the basal suckers during the early years of growth to develop a broad singular trunk.
The trunk of the crepe myrtle is as much a part of its awe-inspiring visual appeal as the flowers themselves. As they mature, the bark periodically sheds, changing colors from gray to pale cinnamon, revealing at times a soft, light pinkish hue. When the trunk sheds, the new bark is ultra-smooth to the touch. Crepe myrtles are very receptive to pruning and are frequently top pruned to maintain an eloquent globe shape.
Blooming Crepe Myrtle
As they explode into full bloom, they are a spectacular addition as perimeter landscaping or planted in a line as a border. They come in dozens of colors, with many mixed colors stemming from the most common pinks, reds, and deep purples. Even though they are deciduous plants and will drop their leaves soon after the first cold snap, their trunks can be so spectacular that they maintain a stunning visual appeal even in dormancy. It's during the winter period when crepe myrtles can be safely shaped as a featured landscape ornamental.
In their native environment of southeast Asia and northern Australia, crepe myrtles can grow to 30 feet tall. However, in its American environment, most are maintained at heights less than fifteen feet. If the basal suckers are allowed to mature, they can be excellent for screens and barriers. They are customarily shipped with a well-developed root structure 1 to 2 feet in overall height. Crepe myrtles can be successfully shipped and planted up to 4 feet tall. Taller specimens are sent with a wrapped root ball.