The most striking characteristic of this versatile species is an abundance of
brightly colored crepe-paper like flowers, which hang in clusters on the new
growth, and last from mid-summer to frost. The form most commonly seen in
central Oklahoma is a large, multi-trunk shrub, although Crapemyrtles can
range in scale from a dwarf shrub to a small tree. Many cultivars of the
Crapemyrtle exist, with flower colors that range from white, pink, purple, to deep
red. Small clusters of colorful berries form after the flowers have faded. One of
the latest plants to develop foliage in the spring, the small, glossy, dark green
leaves finally appear, then often turn brilliant colors in the fall. With attractive
brown to gray peeling bark, the mature Crapemyrtle retains visual interest
through the winter months.
The Crapemyrtle can be grown as a deciduous tree or shrub, depending upon
the cultivar, and is a very adaptable species that thrives in Oklahoma's hot
summer sun. Although this plant is very drought resistant, it prefers moist, welldrained
soils with a soil alkalinity no higher than 7.3. Crapemyrtles will,
however, grow in most soils and perform well. Soils that are excessively high in
alkaline, or the presence of hot, drying winds may cause leaves to scorch. Also
affecting the health of foliage are soils with poor iron, which may cause
chlorosis, or a yellowing of the leaves. Since flowers are produced on new
growth, prune in the winter to maximize flowering.
As our Hardiness Zone is the limit for the Crapemyrtle's cold tolerance, occasionally a harsh winter may kill the plant back to the roots. In Oklahoma, Mother Nature dictates if Crapemyrtles live long enough to develop into substantial trees with the characteristic peeling bark. If protected against the environment, they can and do achieve maturity in Central Oklahoma. Fortunately, cold hardy species, such as Lagerstroemia faurei, have been developed.
Powdery mildew can attack leaves of nonresistant varieties in cool, damp locations; however, many mildew-resistant cultivars are available. Certain varieties of the Crapemyrtle
may also be susceptible to many problems in addition to powdery mildew, such as black spot,
tip blight, leaf spot, aphids, root rot, and Florida wax scale.
The “Pink Velour” Crapemyrtle, Lagerstroemia indica ‘Whit III’, was developed in Oklahoma by Carl Whitcomb, and is an “Oklahoma Proven” selection for 2003. It has burgundy-colored leaves in the spring, turning dark green with a purple cast in the summer. The profuse pink blooms last from early July until frost. The Pink Velour Crapemyrtle grows to a height of ten feet, and is
resistant to drought and powdery mildew.
Overall, the Crapemyrtle is useful as an accent plant or as part of a larger grouping. Suggested uses for this plant include a border or specimen plant. Spacing six feet apart will produce an informal row or screen.
Some Local Cultivars: 'Byer's Wonderful White' - white blooms, yellow fall color, 'Candycane' - red blooms trimmed in white, `Catawba' - dark purple flowers, mildew resistant foliage, 'Centennial Spirit' - wine red blooms, redorange fall color, 'Christiana' - dark red blooms, 'Christmastime' - white blooms, 'Firebird' - pink-red blooms, 'Pink Lace' - pink blooms, ‘Pink Velour’ – pink blooms, burgundy spring foliage, purple tinted summer foliage, ‘Powhatan’ – medium purple flowers, 'Twilight' - purple blooms, ‘Woodward White’ – white blooms
Lagerstroemia faurei hybrids: 'Apalachee' - upright habit patio tree with dense growth and lightly scented lavender flowers. Seed capsules persist through the winter, 'Basham's Party Pink' - lavender blooms, 'Biloxi' - an upright, vase-shaped tree with an open crown, and pale pink flowers, 'Choctaw' - bright pink blooms, 'Miami' - dark pink flowers and tan- and chestnut-brown colored bark, 'Muskogee' - fast-growing, broad-spreading, tree with light lavender-pink flowers, 'Natchez' - among the first to bloom, white blooms proliferate all summer, red-orange fall color, 'Osage' - broad-rounded shrub or patio tree with pink flowers and glossy, dark-green leaves, 'Sioux' - narrow, vase-shaped plant with medium-pink blooms, 'Tuscarora' - coral-pink blooms, new growth is red turning green, then orange-red in fall