AUBURN, Alabama — Crapemyrtles are among the South’s favorite trees. With vivid blooms of pink, red, purple and white, and a unique bark, these plants are ideal to include in your landscape.
Although they are not native to the South, crapemyrtles flourish in warmer regions such as the South, Southwest and the West Coast.
Crapemyrtles come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Some varieties are shrub-like, only growing up to around 18 inches. Meanwhile, others grow into trees at nearly 25-35 feet. Learn more about a few common varieties.
The Catawba crapemyrtle is a fairly small-sized tree with beautiful violet blooms. Its green foliage turns a deep red-orange during the fall months. When mature, the Catawba can reach up to 15 feet, which is perfect for smaller landscapes.
The Osage variety is an open-spreading type and grows up to 15 feet. Blooming mid-summer with light pink blossoms, it has a high resistance to mildew. Exfoliating bark reveals colors of chestnut brown.
Natchez is one of the largest varieties, growing up to 30 feet tall and wide. Blooming all summer long, the Natchez has a soft white flower and exfoliating cinnamon brown bark. The Natchez’s green leaves turn into a deep red-orange during the fall months.
The Miami crapemyrtle is an upright tree, which can reach heights up to 20 feet. Vibrant pink flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. With spectacular exfoliating bark and a vivid red-orange fall foliage, it is gorgeous year round.
Over pruning can ruin the natural growth of the plant, so controlled pruning is recommended.
“Extensive pruning or cutting back of crapemyrtles each year only causes them to vigorously grow back what was removed,” said Willie Datcher, an Alabama Extension regional home grounds agent. “Prune each year to remove suckers and to maintain its attractive shape by removing deadwood and seedpods.”
Instead of trying to force your crapemyrtles to bloom by heavy pruning, Datcher recommends to tip-prune. Tip pruning, also known as deadheading, consists of pruning strictly the old blossoms at the end of the branches. Doing so will increase flowering, but not ruin the plant.
In addition, if you find it necessary to prune your crapemyrtles, Datcher recommends doing it in middle to late winter after the leaves have shed.
“Crapemyrtle varieties come in all shapes, colors, and sizes,” said Datcher. “Pruning large ones into small ones doesn’t make sense.”
“If you want a small, manageable one that looks like a shrub, buy a smaller variety,” he added. “Pruning off major trunks and scarring up large crape myrtles each year serves no purpose.”
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