Crape Myrtles – Lagerstroemia

Flowers, bark, fall color- all in one small tree

For sheer flower display and multiple other fine attributes we nominate Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia)  as one of our favorite trees. After all how many other trees come in so many distinct flower colors and along with bark and fall color each cultivar is different. Originally native to SW Asia they have been cultivated for 2000 or more years and their actual native range is now unknown. They have been cultivated in the United States since approximately 1737 when the first tree was planted in Charleston, South Carolina. The first Crape Myrtles were brought from California to Oregon more than a century ago. Large venerable specimens can be found in the oldest parts of Portland, Salem, and Eugene.

Our Crape myrtles have been selected after careful observation over the last 20+ years in our climate. All of these have been shown to bloom reliably in an average summer, are disease resistant, and completely cold tolerant. Again- each individual cultivar has different water as well as heat requirements to bloom. This is specifically mentioned in the text. Take a gander at our collection of these stellar small to large garden trees.

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Climate Adapted Plants for Gardeners in the PNW

 

Lagerstroemia indica ‘Black Diamond Red’

Striking crape myrtle with jet BLACK foliage that would be cool all by itself. The real kicker is intense true red flowers that smolder with the leaves. A naturally and reliably early blooming almost fastigiate tree. To 9′ tall but just 3′ wide in 7 years. Full hot sun and rich soil with regular summer irrigation for the best results. So far it has been completely mildew free as well. Imagine the late summer combinations? Blooms first appear in early August in urban areas- later in cooler hinterlands. If it never bloomed it would be a cool thing but that red. Wow. Fall color is non-existent.

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Lagerstroemia indica 'Catawba' xera plants

Lagerstroemia indica ‘Catawba’

One of the very first releases from the National Arboretum breeding program in 1967 and a fine purple flowered Crape Myrtle that has yet to be exceeded. Deep violet purple flowers occur en masse in August through October on this compact tree to just 12′ tall with a rounded crown. Full sun and rich soil with REGULAR summer irrigation to bloom. Water deeply once a week through the bloom period. In autumn the foliage takes on brilliant orange/red/yellow hues. Just as spectacular as the blooms. In time the bark exfoliates to a smooth tan. Moderately mildew resistant- give it good air circulation in an open exposure.

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Lagerstroemia indica ‘Centennial Spirit’

Good looking upright growing very floriferous Crape Myrtle. The large trusses of flowers born in August – October are a fascinating mix of colors. In cooler weather they are decidedly rose colored, The hotter the weather and the more consistently hot the flower color becomes a rich red. Either way this strong growing disease resistant Crape Myrtle is a winner in our climate. To 18′ tall and 9′ wide in full sun, virtually any soil with REGULAR deep irrigation in summer- without irrigation Crape Myrtles in our climate will stall and not grow or bloom. Fantastic garden tree. Fall color is red/orange and the bark exfoliates to a muscular soft tan/taupe. Grows 2′-3′ a year when well irrigated. Cold hardy. Not the best picture, but the truest flower color I could capture. Great Crape Myrtle.

 

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Lagerstroemia indica ‘Dynamite’®

Extraordinary tree that has the truest red flowers of just about any crape myrtle. Fast growing upright then spreading tree to 20′ tall and half as wide in 10 years. Exfoliating smooth tan bark in time. New growth is deep maroon settling to mid green. In August to October this reliable bloomer is stunning with fire engine red huge trusses of flowers. This is a large tree and is already planted as a street tree in PDX. Fall color is a brilliant mix of orange/yellow/ red. Full all day sun in a hot position with regular deep irrigation to bloom. Disease resistant with good air circulation. Spectacular tree in all of its parts. Unauthorized propagation prohibited. Plant patent #10,296.

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Lagerstroemia indica ‘PDX Red’

We discovered this seedling Crape Myrtle years ago in North Portland and we were amazed that it burst into bright red bloom beginning in July every year- despite all sorts of weather conditions. Upright growing dense tree to 10′ tall and 5′ wide in 10 years. Large trusses of red flowers begin in July and peak in coverage on the tree in August. This crape myrtle must have regular irrigation to thrive/bloom and it favors richer soils than other cultivars. Water deeply once a week through its bloom period. In time the straight trunks exfoliate to glossy tan. Fall color is red/ orange. Moderately fast growing to 2′-3′ per year when young. Full hot sun and good air circulation. Avoid crowding with other plants. Pretty tree.

Xera Plants Introduction.

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Lagerstroemia indica ‘Pink Velour’®

Extraordinary small  upright tree with new growth that is deep maroon slowly settling to green as the summer wears on. Reliable large trusses of shocking pink flowers typically appear by early August and then remains in bloom for 4-6 weeks. Very upright skinny habit to 10′ tall and just 3′ wide in 10 years in our climate. Full all day hot sun in a hot position. Grows approximately 2′-3′ a year when young. Extremely showy in bloom this eager bloomer makes a great small garden tree where rich soil and REGULAR IRRIGATION are present. Bark slowly exfoliates to a soft tan. Unauthorized propagation prohibited. Plant patent #10,319. Fall color is red/orange. Highly mildew resistant.

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Lagerstroemia indica ‘Red Rocket’®

True red crape myrtles that actually bloom well in our climate are at a premium. This is one of those cultivars and we like it for several specific reasons. The flower trusses are true cherry red and huge and are held straight up. (Hence the rocket). Its best grown as a large multi-trunked tree to 20′ tall. The trunks begin to exfoliate after several years in place and show an amazing mottled deep chestnut brown and taupe display that is smooth and glossy. Unusual for both a pure indica and a red flowered cultivar . The medium green foliage takes on amazing orange/red tints in autumn before dropping and once they are off the tree- as with all Crape myrtles there is no raking. They simply dry up and almost instantly decompose. Neat and tidy. Full, hot, all day sun in a hot position in average soil with regular summer water. You must irrigate this tree deeply at least once every two weeks in summer so that it will bloom. The first flowers appear in August and extend to the beginning of October. Cold hardy and disease resistant tree. Unauthorized propagation prohibited. Plant patent #11,342.

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Lagerstroemia indica ‘Twilight’

Large growing tree type Crape Myrtle to 20’+ tall with a wide spreading crown. Reliable soft, luminous purple large trusses of flowers begin on average the first week of August in the city and repeat bloom until October. Fast growing shade tree that can achieve 3′-5′ a year when young in optimal conditions. Free blooming tree that displays glossy, muscular tan trunks when the bark sheds in mid-summer. These contrast greatly with the deep green foliage and sumptuous purple blooms. Long lived, cold hardy, disease resistant cultivar that has shown its merits for many decades in the southern U.S. but less often grown in our region. Fall color is bright red/ orange/ yellow.  Moderate disease resistance. Good air circulation- proper cultivation eliminates this threat. As with all purple flowered Crape myrtles the flowers can fade a bit after opening. When a non-fading purple Crape myrtle becomes available we will be the first to let you know. Otherwise this is a great, dependable, garden tree. Deep, infrequent, summer irrigation. Six or more hours of hot sun per day.

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Lagerstroemia indica ‘Victor’ (Red)

Smaller growing crape myrtle that we love for its opulent display of true red flowers in August to October. Slow growing to 8′ tall and 4′ wide in 8 years. Full hot sun and rich to average well drained soil with REGULAR deep summer irrigation to bloom. Loves heavy clay soils as long as they are irrigated. Fall color is red/orange and in time the stems exfoliate to glossy tan. Give this small tree/shrub the hottest site possible. Easy, disease resistant and cold hardy. Great for smaller gardens.

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Lagerstroemia x ‘Arapaho’

The largest triple hybrid from the National Arboretum has yielded an excellent true red flowered, disease resistant and reliable Crape Myrtle. Fast growing to 20′ tall but just 8′ wide it forms a very upright tree. The huge true red flower trusses begin in urban areas in late July and continue unabated for two months. New growth is maroon and still retains hints of that as it changes to green- giving this tree a darker look. We have found that it is slightly tender when young- freezes back in cold winters but it rebounds quickly in summer and established trees see no damage. Rich to average (including heavy clay) soils with regular deep summer irrigation for earlier and more prolific bloom. Bark is fair becoming a mottled patchwork of tan. Fall color is brilliant red. Fast growing- easily 3′-4′ per year in well irrigated trees. Mildew resistant. Full, hot sun in a hot position.

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Lagerstroemia x ‘Cheyenne’

One of the last National Arboretum releases in 2003 and a hybrid that includes three species.  This extraordinary small tree is perhaps the best adapted to our milder summers. To just 9′ tall after 10 years this globose tree begins blooming in urban areas as early as the 4th of July and repeat blooms all the way though September. The enormous flower trusses are a vibrant magenta/ruby red. Very free blooming with perhaps the lowest heat requirement of any Crape Myrtle we have grown. In time the bark exfoliates to a smooth chocolate brown. Fall color is a more subdued yellow to orange. Full, hot sun and rich soil with REGULAR irrigation (deep soaks at least once a week) until bloom. Excellent choice for cooler summer areas such as Puget Sound. Does not grow very fast as it is too busy blooming. Exceptionally disease resistant selection.

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Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Hopi’

For our climate this is one of the very finest summer blooming small trees. Forming a perfectly round dome in time to 12′ tall and nearly as wide this free blooming tree also requires the least amount of water to sustain it and bloom. Beginning in mid-July large trusses of bubble gum pink flowers appear and they completely obscure the foliage of the crown re-blooming non-stop until the end of September. In fall reliable and incredibly showy orange  to red and yellow fall color is stunning for an extended period of time. The bark sloughs off of older trees to reveal a glossy gray surface. Moderately fast growing this should be a standard landscape plant in our climate. Exceptional cold hardiness and no fear of disease.

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Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Muskogee’

One of the first hybrid named cultivars released by the National Arboretum in 1978 and a fantastic cold hardy large free flowering tree. Fast growing tree to 25′ tall and half as wide in 10 years. Beginning in late June large trusses of lavender pink flowers appear. They increase in abundance and peak in a massive bloom in August. The tall trunks exfoliate to a glossy taupe/patches of tan. Very pretty and exotic looking tree when large. There is a 30′ specimen- one of the first hybrids planted on the west coast in 1974 in SE Portland. Its a spectacular shade tree. Fall color is a brilliant mix of orange and red. Exceptionally hardy to cold. Best with regular irrigation- which speeds growth markedly and improves bloom. Otherwise it takes summer drought in stride. Excellent for use as a street tree. Long, long, bloom season. Fantastic, well behaved large garden tree.

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Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Osage’

After almost two decades of growing Crape Myrtles we can honestly say that we’ve come to the conclusion that the bark on this tree size cultivar is among the most exceptional of the group. Cinnamon red background with amorphically shaped maroon patches outlined in white. Its natures ravishing puzzle and we love it. Way showier than ‘Natchez’. Wide spreading, semi-pendulous tree to 16′ tall and 10′ wide.  Enormous, loose trusses of light pink are early and reliable in our climate. Blooms on average from early August to October. In time it produces a spreading crown and makes an exceptional garden tree. Completely mildew resistant. In autumn the whole tree turns a uniform electric red. Stunning. A fantastic tree that should be known and grown more. Full hot sun, regular summer water.

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Lagerstroemia x fauriei 'Pecos' xera plants

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Pecos’

A deservedly popular tree in western Oregon for several reasons. Large globose panicles of clear pink flowers begin in urban areas as early as the beginning of July and repeat bloom until September. The open and vase shaped habit is graceful and bends gently under the weight of the huge flower trusses. In time this 15′ tree develops some of the best exfoliating bark of the genus. In late summer on trees older than 3 years the top layer of bark sloughs off revealing smooth, rich, chocolate brown trunks. Amazeballs. The bark is showy throughout winter. In autumn the foliage turns to shades of maroon and red. This crape myrtle MUST HAVE regular irrigation to grow and bloom. Excellent small garden tree with some of the lowest heat requirements to bloom. Water. You must water. National Arboretum release 1987, Spectacular tree in western Oregon.

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Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Sarah’s Favorite’

A really good free blooming tree sized Crape Myrtle with profuse huge white flower trusses and astonishing orange bark. This is a fast growing tree and if properly irrigated can achieve easily 4′ a year. To 22′ tall and half as wide. Very similar to ‘Natchez’ with several distinct differences. It is a little hardier to cold. For those in cooler rural regions where there is insufficient summer heat to harden the wood for winter this is a good choice. The flowers are primarily held upright as opposed to pendulous on ‘Natchez’, The bark tends more towards pure orange (like a madrone) rather than mottled. Full sun and rich to average soil with regular summer water. Blooms early July to September. Fall color is vivid orange and red. Very nice garden tree.

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Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Tonto’

Sweet little tree that has some of the most vivid fuchsia/magenta flowers in the Crape Myrtle universe. To 14′ tall with a rounded crown. In late August to October huge trusses of vivid magenta flowers are quite showy. In the waning light of summer this vivid display is welcome. The trunks eventually exfoliate to a soft sandalwood brown with taupe blotches. Very nice. Completely disease resistant. Excellent small garden tree. Fall color is boisterous red and orange. Regular deep irrigation and full all day sun in a hot position. Grows approximately 2′-3′ per year when young. Excellent National Arboretum hybrid.

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Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Tuscarora’

One of the most popular tree type Crape Myrtles and it is frequently planted as a street tree in the city of Portland. Strongly upright growing tree- almost fastigiate that eventually forms a spreading crown. The silhouette is that of a hot air balloon. Full sun and rich to average soil including clay soils. REGULAR summer water not only ensures a huge flower display in August and September it rapidly speeds the growth rate. Well irrigated trees can put on up to 4′ a year. Otherwise it makes due with little summer water by blooming much later- September. Extremely large hot coral pink trusses are held vertically. They can appear the size of a beehive. Less re-bloom than other trees. Fall color is orange/yellow/soft red and lingers. The exfoliating bark takes on a champagne pink glossy sheen when mature. Good garden tree. Excellent street tree. To 22′ tall and 8′ wide at maturity.

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Lagerstroemia x fauriei 'Wichita' xera plants

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Wichita’

One of the very finest very large growing tree type Crape Myrtles from the National Arboretum breeding program. Tall and not very wide in time this very fast and upright growing tree sports a spreading crown. In late July to October huge panicles of bright lavender flowers remain showy for weeks. Its a soft color but the display is opulent. In time the bark exfoliates to patches of cinnamon red and mahogany. Very showy. Fall color is an intense display of reds/orange/purple. Full sun and virtually any soil- thrives in clay soils and the reflected heat of parking strips. Of all the Crape myrtle cultivars perhaps this free blooming 26′ tall tree is the best for a candidate as a street tree. Excellent cold hardiness as well as disease resistance. Well irrigated trees will easily put on 4′ of growth in a year.

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Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Yuma’

Extraordinary tree that displays HUGE trusses of almost double flowered glowing lavender blue flowers. Open spreading habit on a compact tree to 14′ tall and 8′ wide. The branching structure favors the huge opulent flower clusters which always begin in my garden in early August and continues well into September. Fall color is a vivid orange and yellow combination and is reliable. The sinuous trunk displays pink/tan coloration Smooth and very pretty. Its consistently one of the youngest to show bark coloration.  Full hot sun and regular summer irrigation to bloom and thrive. Very cold hardy and disease resistant. An easy and spectacular tree that should be planted everywhere. Beautiful.

 

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Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Zuni’

This has become a standard Crape myrtle in our climate. Excellent performance on a well scaled tree to just 17′ tall and very upright. Beginning on average in urban areas in late July large trusses of rosy lavender flowers appear in a huge display, it continues unabated for up to two months. The glossy green leaves turn to red/orange/yellow in autumn for a further display. In mature trees the bark exfoliates to a soft white/ gray- great contrast with the deep green foliage. Grows about 2′-4′ a year if well irrigated. Not fussy about soil just requires full all day sun and deep infrequent irrigation. Good air circulation. First rate small garden tree that is the size of many larger Japanese maples and pairs wonderfully with them in gardens. Very easy to grow tree.

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Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Natchez’

Well known as the queen of crape myrtles ‘Natchez’ is a magical tree with many different kinds of beauty. In mid-summer to October large trusses of pure white flowers bend twigs gracefully. Its bark is among the most striking of any tree. Swaths of cinnamon red and taupe mottled patterns envelope the trunk. In fall red to yellow fall color is showy for several weeks. To 22′ tall and half as wide in 10 years.  Average soil that drains as well as regular summer irrigation both speeds growth and encourages blossoming. A striking specimen and useful as a street tree that will never become entangled in overhead wires. Completely disease resistant. Fall leaves drop and decompose almost instantly. Very nice- no raking.  Fast growing in youth. Best with regular irrigation. 

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