Planting under Crepe Myrtle question?

fnboyd(z8 AL)September 5, 2007

Do you plant perennials under your crepe myrtles? I am going to plant a crepe myrtle natcheze in a new flower bed and had noticed that in several of the post on here these were underplanted with perennials. Do they let enough filtered light through for most perennials or should I just focus on plants that need shade.

What do you have planted under yours?


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megajas(z7 VA)

we have daylilies and iris under/behind ours and they seem to be doing fine.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 12:44PM
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fnboyd(z8 AL)

Thanks, Those are some of the plants I will be using. I was also thinking about some Nepeta Walkers Low and Amsonia Blue Star. Do you think those will work?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 1:05PM
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I have Amsonia and Nepeta under my CMs. I also have delosperma, spirea, coreopsis, stachys, irises, nandina, verbascum, lantana, buddleia, monarda, caryopteris, thyme around them. My CMs are on the southwest side of the house -- very harsh sun all day.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 3:24PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

lantana and rain lilies under mine

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 11:03PM
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Salvias, dahlias, columbine, daylilies, mums, and northern oak grass all under my two CMs.....


    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 10:31AM
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gnabonnand(Zone 8 Texas)

Natchez crepe myrtles will eventually get huge and, like all crepe myrtles, have very vigorous, fibrous root systems. As the plant matures, it will be difficult to cultivate the soil around it (i.e. dividing perennials, planting annuals, etc).

You will not want to plant anything that is prone to powdery mildew under the crepe myrtle. That is because secretions from aphids and other insects will constantly drip down from the crepe myrtle's canopy onto the plants below (as well as on your head).

Once a large crepe myrtle variety becomes established, you should plan on keeping the plant in place forever. If you decide to remove the plant, it's root system will remain alive for many, many years and sucker around the general area, popping up in the middle of other surrounding plants.

Be prepared to trim around the base of the plant every couple of weeks or so, or you will end up with a giant bush instead of a multi-trunked tree.

In your zone, about every 10 years or so, an unusually cold winter spell will kill the top portion of the plant. You can trim the dead ends of the branches off, if you can reach them.

Other than those very real issues that I have personally lived through, they're fairly decent plants :-)


    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 10:53PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

In your zone, about every 10 years or so, an unusually cold winter spell will kill the top portion of the plant.

Randy, that info is totally inaccurate for zone 8. And not all crepe myrtles are so susceptible to mildew. Some have a very high resistance. That's one of the reasons why it's a good idea to do research before buying.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 10:13PM
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debndal(8a DFW, TX)

I have 3 Natchez crape myrtles that are 22 years old. In their 22 years, they have frozen all the way to the ground twice when we had temps in the teens that came after some unseasonably warm weather. I think the cold temps are ok if they come gradually, but this variety couldn't handle that kind of shock, twice. They were quick to regrow from the roots, but Natches is susceptible to die back like that.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 2:49PM
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gnabonnand(Zone 8 Texas)

natal, you are the one who is "totally inaccurate" (your words, not mine). I live in suburban Dallas, Texas and we are in zone 8. I listed zone 7b on my prior post because it is always better to go a half zone colder when considering plants, so they will handle that once-every-10-year, unusually cold winter spell.

Note the post above this one, where deb's crepe myrtle also froze in zone 8 two different times in 22 years (I stated "every 10 years or so").

I was actually being conservative in my above post, when I said "an unusually cold winter spell will kill the top portion of the plant." Like Deb, one of mine froze all the way to the ground. Another of mine had the entire top half frozen, never to leaf out again.

Do your research, natal, so that you do not mislead Faye. She needs to be aware of both the positives and the negatives of this plant.


    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 11:27PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

Randy, I think research should also include specific zones. Up until a few years ago Baton Rouge was considered zone 8a. The updated USDA Plant Hardiness map now classifies us as 8b. I've been here almost 30 years and never had freeze damage to crepe myrtles.

Here is a link that might be useful: How hardy are crepe myrtles?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 12:07PM
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todancewithwolves(Z9 CA)

I'm in zone 9 and we've had temps reach 27Ë. Summers have reached 110Ë. Mine has been a trooper through all seasons. It is the largest in my neighborhood. They are very common trees in this area.

Under my tree I have a 'honeycomb' buddleia, 'black night' buddleia, mophead hydregnia, quince, few asclepias curassavica and a pond.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 7:55PM
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Edna, like this corner of your garden with the crepe myrtle tree. It reminds me of the time when I was there! Well, by the way, Quyen is now here. Feeling so great!
Sent you an invitation to view Thu's (Q's sister) photos at her engagement last week. The spam filter on your PC works far too effective!!! Check it out girl!


    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 5:53AM
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Nell Jean

Faye, it has been my experience that digging under established crape myrtles will cause a root pruning effect from which many new plants will come up, if that will matter to you.

The amount of shade will differ according to how much limbing up you do. I saw some Natchez in Tallahassee, FL that had been limbed up high and the shade was not significant to the health of the underplantings.

I've not noticed powdery mildew problems on/under my Natchez, nor have they been killed back.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 11:37AM
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I have a crapet murtle in the middle of my yard and would like to plant some low shrubs around it in a circle. I would like the evergreen variety. What would you suggest? In the past I have planted annuals but that is very expensive as I have to do it twice a year. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 4:07PM
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I have two CM in my front yard. One is in a raise rock bed and is planted with rosemary all around. The other is near the street. I have just cleaned out the bed under this tree and dressed with compost before the rain came. Not sure what I will put there next fall.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 3:45AM
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