white Acoma, a weeping crape myrtle, picturesquely
touches the ground. Here it is growing with the
pink Pecos and red Dynamite.
300-foot long crape myrtle allée is a sight to behold
especially when it is in full bloom as it happens to be
right now. While the visitors are shocked, if not
mesmerized by the amount of blooming color, they are
equally stunned to know we don’t prune. You see, most
gardeners think that pruning gives you more flower
canopy, but it simply isn’t so.
everywhere have taken up the banner to end crape murder
which is the unnecessary topping or pollarding of the
trees. Several universities have gone a step further,
which is to suggest picking out the right crape myrtle
based on mature size for your location and let them grow
as natural as possible, with minimal pruning.
friend, Greg Grant, who is Research Associate at Piney
Woods Native Plant Center, at Stephen F. Austin
University in Nacogdoches, Texas, has set up what he
calls a "crape myrtle abuse-free zone," no
spray, no irrigation and no pruning. They will be there
he said minding their own business and pretty in pink,
and all of the other colors too.
same can be said for the crape myrtle allée at the
Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens in Savannah, Ga. The
only difference is ours are a little older and adorned
with a little, albeit minimal, obligatory Spanish moss.
In addition to the riotous color that rivals any cherry
or redbud festival in the country, there is also bark of
staggering beauty year round and a winter structure most
didn’t know existed, which is of course, because
everyone has been pruning.
don’t get me wrong, sprouts or suckers should always
be removed. In the initial training you may even desire
to limb up but I can tell you the prettiest jaw dropping
crape myrtle on our property is the white blooming acoma
with a weeping habit where the blooms grow all the way
to the ground. It is also much taller and wider than
most would have predicted.
we should remove broken or damaged branches and if you
feel the need crisscross branches. Feel free to deadhead
seed pods if easily accomplished which quickly
stimulates another round of blooms. But I will tell you
no one was more surprised than me to find birds
chattering in the crape myrtles one foggy morning.
Believe it or not cardinals were eating the dried seeds.
you walk our crape myrtle allée you will notice that
some do have a pleasant fragrance. I’m not sure if my
friend Greg first came up with the descriptor of crape
myrtles being called the ‘Lilacs of the South’ but
it certainly seems to be a most worthy, if not
though I am touting crape myrtles as some of my favorite
trees, things have changed making it a good reason to
stop by your favorite garden center. In downtown
Columbus, Ga., it is a rivet show of red with a fairly
new selection called cherry dazzle. It seems during the
entire growing season, this dwarf 3-foot tall selection
is in full bloom rivaling the bloom and structure of any
shrub rose. There are now 6 colors in the dazzle series.
to pick out a crape myrtle size appropriate for your
location. They bloom best in full sun and will thrive in
well-drained soil. Your nurseryman will help you pick
out the best for disease resistance. The cold-hardiness
zones are 7-9 although in colder zones 5 and 6 many
gardeners are finding satisfaction growing them more
shrub-like similar to a buddleia where they return from
the ground each winter. Obviously pruning would be a
normal practice in this situation.
myrtles came to our country in the 1700’s from China,
Asia and Japan. Their long season of richly colored
blooms, bark and a wonderful natural winter structure
are among their many outstanding attributes. Follow me
on twitter @CGBGgardenguru.