Lagerstroemia

Family: Lythraceae
Common Name: Crape Myrtle

Native to East and Southeast Asia, as well as some of the islands in the western Pacific, these lovely evergreen and deciduous shrubs and trees are grown for their showy clusters of frilly flowers which appear in late summer or autumn. The common name is derived from the crinkly nature of the flowers. In frost-prone climates, grow in a cool to intermediate greenhouse. Where the climate is warmer, grow as specimen plants in the garden or as hedges. L. indica is a frost-tolerant species suited to zone 7.

Species

L. fauriei, zone 9, is a deciduous species with white flowers which comes from Japan.

L. floribunda, zone 10, is a small tree with pink or white flowers.

L. indica, crape myrtle or pride of India, zone 7, is a deciduous shrub or small tree, to 6 m (20 ft), with roundish leaves and profuse clusters of white, pink, lilac or purplish flowers in late summer and autumn. There are numerous cultivars, some of which originated in North America, but they are not all readily available. However, it is worth looking out for such kinds as 'Catawba', with purple blooms; the deep red cultivar 'Dallas Red; the deep pink-flowered 'Miami', which has a long flow­ering period in summer and autumn; 'Sioux', with especially large, pink flowers; and 'White Dwarf', whose name describes it well. this cul­tivar forms a low bush about 1 m (3 ft) in height. The dwarf shrubby 'Petite' series with flowers in various colours is particularly popular with gardeners.

L. speciosa, Queen's crape myrtle, zone 10, can reach 25 m (80 ft) in its habitat, and is highly prized in its native India, Sri Lanka and Burma for its timber. It has long, leathery leaves with red-brown undersides and showy clusters of large, purple, pink or white flowers from summer to autumn.

Cultivation

Under glass, grow in pots or tubs of soil-based potting compost, in maximum light. They can be stood outside in summer. In the garden, crape myrtles prefer well-drained, fer­tile soil, enriched with organic matter. They are able to tolerate dry periods, although it is advis­able to water them through spring and summer to ensure good flowering. Prune in winter if necessary. In humid climates, powdery mildew can be a problem. Propagate from cuttings taken in summer, or from large hardwood cut­tings of about 15-25 cm (6-10 in), taken in winter. Root them under glass in pots of cut­tings compost. Some varieties will sucker from the roots, especially if cut back hard, and these can be detached and grown on during spring and summer.

Climate

There are species suited to various cli­matic zones.

Click to view map of zones
Climate zone map
Lagenaria      Lagunaria