Tag Archives: Crape Myrtle

Lagerstroemia indica hybrid (Crape Myrtle): Tree or Shrub?

The Crape Myrtle naturally grows as a very large shrub, with lots of twiggy upright branches. However, most people grow this plant as a multi-trunked tree.

This show stopper can be easily pruned as it grows, so that it develops into three to five sturdy trunks. In time, the lower side shoots can be thinned out or pruned off up to around 6-7 feet in height. In about 10 years, you’ll have an interesting and very attractive tree.

The ultimate height of most varieties is around 12-15 feet tall.  I have found that in the northwest only the varieties named after native American tribes are reliably cold hardy and do not develop powdery mildew. For example, we use Zuni, Tuskegee, Tuscarora, Catawba, Seminole, Lipan, Tonto, Sioux and Natchez.

In our climate, the advantages of this amazing tree are:

  • In the late summer and early fall, it puts on massive blooming shows when there are few if any other blooms and color in the landscape. It is available in a myriad of blossom colors, such as white, pink to red, and lilac to purple.
  • In late October and early November, the leaves turn quickly into yellows, oranges and reds. Bonus: those leaves are small and easily composted in the landscape.
  • In winter, the trunks develop shiny cream to tawny smooth colors with streaks and mottles. I would consider growing this tree just for the fall and winter trunk display.
  • In spring the new foliage buds out as a darker color than the summer green foliage, giving it a spring and summer display as well as the bloom, bark and fall leaf color.
  • It grows best and blooms only in hot reflective heat situations where many northwest plants such as rhododendrons, would burn. The center of a hot asphalt parking lot or the side of a south facing building are ideal locations for the Crape Myrtle.
  • Once it is past the first summer, when it should be watered well and deeply once a week, it does not need to be watered. It is very drought tolerant.
  • It does not need any fertilizer after being planted, other than a good three-inch diameter circle of bark mulch kept at about a two-inch depth.
  • When it is young, trimming off the 8-10-inch dead bloom spikes can help to show off the tree bloom better. As it gets older it can be just left alone.

This is not a native tree; however, it fits beautifully in our human landscape ecosystem, where it can fill in locations that no native tree or shrub would be happy.

Late Summer in Oregon Means Keep Watering

As I write this the news of the day is the historical total solar eclipse. Here in Tigard, we’re experiencing more than 99% of totality for two minutes.

Lacking most of the sunlight for two minutes won’t stunt the growth of your plantings, for sure, but lack of rainfall during this time of the year definitely could. it is particularly important to water your potted plants every day. They dry out much more quickly than your “grounded” flora.

Our vegetable garden loves all this heat and we’ve been harvesting. This year, we are growing tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, asparagus, rhubarb, golden berries, goji berries, figs, raspberries and herbs.

The biochar that we’ve been using along with natural fertilizers has caused our garden to really produce. We are very happy with the results.

Here I am about to spread some biochar on the rhubarb

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other late August gardening chores

  • Yes, keep weeding.
  • Mow regularly.
  • Don’t forget to water. The best time to water is in the early morning using approximately one inch a week on the lawn. Use more if it has been really hot and dry. Beds need half that much.
  • Monitor veggie garden irrigation closely so crops do not dry out.
  • Fertilize cucumbers, summer squash, and broccoli, while harvesting to maintain production. Harvest vegetables when edible to stimulate further production.
  • Control caterpillars on leafy vegetables or geraniums and petunias, as needed, with Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT). It is a natural product
  • Use mulch to protect ornamentals and garden plants from hot weather damage. For spider mite control on some ornamentals, hose off foliage once a day for three days once a month. Arborvitae hedges are the most susceptible.
  • You may want to control fleas in lawns with spray this month if you have outdoor pets.Well, speaking of heat and lack of rain, here are a few plants that actually like such conditions: Crape Myrtle (a China native), Pomegranates (thought to have originated in Iran) and Hesperaloe parviflora (native to the Southwest). Pomegranates grow well here, where they can bake, but they don’t produce fruit. They do produce orange flowers, and bright yellow foliage in the fall.

Around Winterbloom:

Well, speaking of heat and lack of rain, here are a few plants that actually like such conditions: Crape Myrtle (a China native), Pomegranates (thought to have originated in Iran) and Hesperaloe parviflora (native to the Southwest).

The Crape Myrtle tree has amazing bark, most commonly bright pink. Its blossoms usually burst forth in late August or September. The leaves turn to orange yellow flame in the fall. Crapes hate shade during the growing season.

Pomegranates grow well here, where they can bake, but they don’t produce fruit. They do produce orange flowers, and bright yellow foliage in the fall.

 

 

Please enjoy this glimpse of our Hesperaloe parviflora. It thrives during our dry Oregon summers, tempting hummingbirds with wands of coral blooms and pleasing our eyes with evergreen foliage.