Lagerstroemia (Crepe Myrtle) characteristics and culture.
Approximately 55 species of mainly trees, occasionally shrubs.
Flowers are often very showy, and are commonly in shades of purple or red to white. In some cultivars, the leaves attain an attractive colour before falling.
The bark may also be very attractive.
They can be used to provide summer shade for nearby plants, while allowing light to penetrate when leaves drop in winter.
There are many free flowering, dwarf cultivars of the popular L. indica now available, including the ‘Indian Summer’ series.
These can be readily grown in large tubs.
Most species prefer friable, moist, well drained soil, and a warm position protected from strong frosts is best. Water freely in dry periods. Prune in early spring in temperate climates, and prune heavily in winter, and after flowering (this may result in two lots of flowers per year) in sub-tropical and tropical areas. Feed regularly during the warmer months. Regular mulching is also beneficial. Propagated by seed or semi-hardwood cuttings. Pest problems are not common. Powdery mildew is perhaps the most likely disease problem, and this is promoted by humid conditions. Avoid dense shrubs being planted too close as they can disrupt air flow and increase the risk of mildew.
L. Fauriei (Japanese Crepe Myrtle) - Similar to L. indica, to 4m, very attractive bark (reds & browns), white flowers, deciduous but no autumn colour, resists powdery mildew making it better in cooler climates.
L. floribunda - A small tree with oblong to lance-shaped leaves to 20cm long. Flowers are pale rose to white. The variety 'Floribunda' has rusty coloured flower heads, while the variety 'Brevifolia' has smaller flower buds with golden or yellow flowers.
L. indica -A deciduous tree to 3-5m tall. Flowers are very attractive, varying in colour, and appearing in late summer. The small, oval shaped foliage, makes a very attractive autumn display. The bark may also be mottled in appearance and very attractive. This is the most commonly grown species, and there are numerous named cultivars.
L. speciosa (syn. L. flos-reginae) (Queens Crepe Myrtle) - A conical shaped, deciduous tree to 25m, which can be kept much smaller in cultivation. It has elliptical to oval shaped, leathery leaves to 30cm long and 10cm wide, and white or mauve flowers on vertical spikes that cover the tree in midsummer, appearing before the leaves.
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