Crape myrtles are originally from Asia but have been adopted by the south since the late 1700s because they thrive in our southeast climate. Crape myrtles will properly bloom in extra hot summers, putting on some stunning displays of flowers. Many cultivars have exfoliating bark as the tree matures, meaning as they age the bark will actually begin to peel, revealing a cinnamon colored trunk. They also adapt well in a diversity of soil conditions including heavy clay to sandy loam, acidic to alkaline, and lower damp sites to high and dry. Crape myrtles are pest and disease resistant too. Some cultivars are more susceptible to aphids and powdery mildew than others, but many varieties today have been selected for their resistance to these problems as well as their growth habits, color of flowers, how prolific it blooms and resistance to pest problems. Another major benefit to crape myrtles is that they are deer resistant, so they are a great selection for properties with high deer pressure. Crape myrtles are famous for their stunning display of summer color, but they also put on a big show in the fall. As temperatures drop, they can display leaf color from reds and maroons to yellows and oranges. All these characteristics combined make them an excellent selection for the southern landscape. Following is a list of more traditional, larger growing, full size cultivars we have grown fond of over the years and consider them a staple in our crape myrtle selections.
‘Tuscarora’ is a favorite of many and for obvious reasons. They have bold, almost neon, watermelon pink flowers during the summer followed by stunning red and yellow fall foliage color. A mature specimen averages 25x20ft and has good exfoliating bark characteristics.
‘Natchez’ is a popular favorite among many. They have snow white blooms during the summer followed by stunning red and yellow fall color. This cultivar is so prolific that when it blooms, it has more of a weeping structure due to flowers weighing down the canopy. A mature specimen averages 20x20ft, and is extra famous for having exceptional exfoliating bark characteristics.
‘Sioux’ is an excellent selection when looking for a vibrant pink that has a solid, upright habit. They are very prolific, yet when in full bloom during the summer, they tend to not weep as much as many other cultivars. A mature specimen will average 20ftx15ft and exfoliating bark characteristics is good.
‘Muskogee’ is a great, full size selection when looking for pinkish lavender blooms. They also have great fall color including red, orange and yellow. A mature specimen will average 20x15ft and exfoliating bark characteristics is good.
‘Dynamite’ is one of our most popular red flowering cultivars. Blooms are a true blood red and are very prolific during the summer. Fall color is stunning as well, with mostly red with some orange and yellow foliage. A mature specimen averages 15x12ft making it more of a medium size crape myrtle, with exfoliating bark characteristics average.
‘Tonto’ is a medium size crape myrtle with an average mature size of 12x10ft. Blooms are reddish-purple followed by maroon and red fall foliage color. This is an excellent medium size selection that seems to quickly jump up in size while keeping a smaller build once mature. Exfoliating bark is average.
‘Pink Velour’ is a very fitting name for this cultivar. Summer blooms are neon pink set on green with purple haze summer foliage, creating a bold color pallet followed by purplish red fall color. A mature specimen averages 12x8ft. Growth habit is not aggressive and exfoliating bark characteristics is average.
‘Red Rocket’ is currently the largest growing red blooming crape myrtle with a mature specimen reaching an average size of 20x20ft. Flowers are cherry red during the summer followed by yellow and red fall foliage color. This cultivar has average exfoliating bark color.
‘Sarah’s Favorite’ is another white flowering selection. The most noticeable difference between it and ‘Natchez’ is its more upright growth habit. It tends to not weep so much during blooming season in the summer. They are then followed by yellow with some red foliage color in the fall. A mature specimen averages 20x20ft and exfoliating bark is average.
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