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. From the genus Lagerstroemia, there are dozens of species, each characterized by a different color of bloom. To develop a large singular trunk, the basal suckers should be removed during the early years of growth.
The trunk of the crepe myrtle is as much a part of its strikingly impressive visual appeal as the flowers themselves. As they mature, the bark periodically sheds, changing colors from gray, to a 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.
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 hybrid colors stemming from the most common pinks, reds and deep purples. Even though they are a deciduous plant, and will drop their leaves soon after the first cold snap, their trunks can be so spectacular they maintain a stunning visual appeal even in dormancy. It's during the winter period when crepe myrtles can be safely shaped as a feature landscape ornamental.
In their native environment of southeast Asia and northern Australia, crepe myrtles can grow to heights near 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 shipped with a wrapped root ball.