Unusual plants around town........

TimMAz6(6b)March 3, 2013

I spotted a Crape Myrtle in Seekonk.........these are very rare in our area. Anyone else see a Crape Myrtle in your Town?

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diggingthedirt

They're rare here, too, although there are plenty of varieties that are hardy here nowadays. There was a giant one on the main street, outside of a strip mall, and that was how I became interested in them. I've got 2 now, and I really do love them.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2013 at 10:21PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Tim,

Many years ago I did see some in front of a house. There were two I think, and one was at least 15 feet tall, and the other one was maybe 9 feet. I haven't been by that street in ages so I don't know if they're still there or not.

I have one that I planted just last spring. It's called "Pink Velour".

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 5:53AM
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TimMAz6(6b)

Hi Bill

that's a beauty Crape. Yours looks like it may be the same type as the one on Mink St in Seekonk (near Sams Club).

I noticed the Ann & Hope garden center in Seekonk was selling Crapes last summer.

I'm not sure if this HTML will work:

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:31AM
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TimMAz6(6b)

Ann & Hope also had these for sale.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:32AM
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spedigrees z4VT

I have serious crape myrtle envy now. I just love those gorgeous red/pink blooms. My dad in the DC area has a marvelous crape myrtle tree that I drool over whenever I visit, but it would never survive where I live.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:49PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Tim,

I got mine at Ann & Hope in Cumberland last year.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 3:05PM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

What I'd want from a lagerstroemia is what I remember from my youth (in Wash. DC): a big beautiful pink flower covered tree with mottled peeling bark. But what I've seen up here is mostly bushes, little trees, not 20-footers. I'm not sure a crape myrtle can grow that big in our zone. I'm attaching some info pages from the National Arboretum which has been creating new hybrids that are hardier, but still... I hate to plant something only to watch it die, or even not thrive.

So I've settled for a shadbush, amelanchier canadensis, with its springtime white flowers and its time signal of the shad run (herring run, locally). I love crape myrtles but it's gotta be a 20 or 30 footer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Crape Myrtles, US National Arboretum

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 3:12PM
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greenhavenrdgarden

I noticed some beautiful good sized crape myrtles in a commercial setting in orange CT, next to limelight hydrangeas, a row of each. They were stunning. Ironically a week later I saw pink velour for sale in Derby CT. I wish it wasn't a zone pusher bc they are gorgeous.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 5:18PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Carol,
Earlier in this thread I made reference to a 15 foot one and a 9 foot one, no exaggeration there. But it was several years ago maybe 15 years ago, I wonder what kind it could have been. It seems it was before the newer, hardier types had been developed. And they had that nice peeling bark that you mentioned.

The pink velour that I bought is rated for zone 6. But this was its first winter so I'll let you know how it does.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:01PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Tim,

I've grown Crape Myrtles for years here. I grew up in Alabama and I wanted to see if I could push the envelope with this particular Southern shrub/tree. Very few things bloom during the summer like Crape Myrtles. I've grown them for roughly eleven years without a problem. I prune all of mine but one to look like shrubs although they are relatively small bushy cultivars to begin with. The exception is Red Rocket which I never prune. It's about 10-11 ft tall now. There is no doubt in my mind that it will reach 20 ft. I don't really have a good picture of that one especially a picture that shows the thick trunks beginning to form on it with that typical smooth surface. I do have good pictures of my other ones, though. Here they are:

I have an Acoma planted in an island between me and my neighbor. The island is mostly evergreens but I do have a few deciduous plants there, too. The Acoma put on a stellar blooming show last summer. It has a weeping habit that is unusual for a Crape Myrtle.

The first CM's that I planted were the Hopi cultivar. I planted three of them back in 2001. Here they are their first summer:

Here they are last summer. They actually form a fairly nice hedge:

Closeup:

Here's a photo of the blooms at the top of Red Rocket. It's not a great bloomer so far but part of that is due to the shade of a birch tree close to it:

All of them put on a great fall foliage show. Here are the Hopi CM's in the fall of 2011. These CM's would be monsters if I didn't prune them every year:

Here's the Acoma in the fall of 2011:

Here's the Red Rocket the first fall after I planted it (2005 I believe):

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:06PM
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diggingthedirt

My newer one (a deep pink) is about ... 14 feet tall. The older one, a white, was even taller at one point, but after that horrible winter (maybe 5 or 6 years ago?) it died back to the ground. It was in a back corner of my yard, where its bare frame only bothered me when I was traipsing around that section - and actually, even bare it was gorgeous. It was July 4th when I finally decided to cut it down, and it turns out that's also when it finally got up the energy to begin to leaf out. It's now about 6' tall and I've cut it back to maybe 5 trunks (stems, really) because I expect it to turn back into a tree with a little time and pruning.

So, at least in coastal New England, the challenge isn't that they don't grow well, it's that you have to deal with the fact that one season your plant might be an 18' tall tree with 3 to 5 trunks, and the next year it could be a mini shrub with 18-20 branches (with a short period where it's just a skeleton).

I know these may not be hardy in large sections of New England, but where they can be grown they're well worth trying.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 8:25PM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

I have a 15 footer ---variety Muskogee. It has lavender blooms. Crapes should be planted more widely in southern-most New England. There are a number of varieties that are hardy to -8 and one to -12. The temperature at my location has never reached -8 and I have been keeping track for 17 years! I have included a link to a crape myrtle hardiness chart. The chart is based on field tests in Coatesville PA. The varieties at the top of the chart match some of the pics upthread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Crape Myrtle hardiness chart

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:52PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Rockman, that's a great chart. Thanks. Nice to see that my Pink Velour is one of the hardiest, and they comment that it's the showiest! That's good to know. It has just gone through its first winter and so far it looks fine.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 5:33AM
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casey1gw

My crape myrtle tree was about 20' tall and at least 15 years old. It was one of the latest trees to leaf out and stared blooming late July or August. It had great exfoliating bark and late season color. At my new house I planted a shrub 2 years ago and it's doing fine.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 9:24AM
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TimMAz6(6b)

great data everyone.

Diggingthedirt,

which one died to the ground? Do you know the cultivar name?

I have 3 types going now and can't wait to see how they grow in our climate. I've got:

'Sarah's favorite' - white blooms
'Tuskegee'.....I think pink/purple
'Natchez'....I think white

I'll be training them into 'standards' to get the trunk look. I have 2 of them outside as first year seedlings....I wonder if they survived this winter so small.....each only about 15" tall.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:42AM
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TimMAz6(6b)

Bill,

do you remember the location of the big Crape? We can check google maps to see if it's still there?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 11:00AM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

Tim,

Not off hand. I used to have a delivery job for a lab and I'd go that way two or three times a week, but I'd have to study Google maps to try to retrace my steps from 17 years ago! I'll give it a try.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 3:29PM
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hatrickk289(6b)

I'm down in south western Connecticut... so Crape myrtles are far and few. However I have six different varieties: Hopi, Tonto, Sarah's Favorite, Tuscarora, Townhouse, and Zuni. Its only been several years, but they have all made it through many nights of single digits, and few below zero (With little, if any, dieback) My two white crape myrtles however seem to be the strongest growers. Tree oracle, how much sun would you say yours get? I think I need to cut a few trees down... two of mine didn't bloom well last year.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 7:13PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

All of mine are in full sun. My Hopi CM's are the only ones that reliably put on a good show every year. The Acoma blooms well if the Spring is warm. If it's one of those years where May is damp and cold then it doesn't bloom well at all. Last year was the warmest Spring that I've experienced in the 17 years that I've lived here and it brought out the best in the Acoma as you can see from the picture I posted. There's not a lot of data on CM's in this part of the country so it's nice to read all of the information in posts like this one.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 10:07PM
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hatrickk289(6b)

When you say full sun, do you mean sunlight greater than 6 hours? Or even more sun? My two trees that do not bloom receive about a 3 hour break of sun during the day. Also, do you notice if you Hopi closest to your house performs better than the rest of your crape myrtles? I love growing plants that my neighbors can't . . . .

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 11:23PM
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hatrickk289(6b)

And this is my Tonto after its first winter a few years back-
We even reached -2 that winter just to give you an idea of its hardiness. If I ever hear of temps below -5 degrees, I wrap the less hardier Crape Myrtles (Usually my Tuscarora) in C9 Incandescent lights to heat the trunks.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:34PM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

FYI....my crape is in full blazing sun all day long. I think that is extra important given our shorter cooler summers compared to their home base further south. Mine is also planted not too far from the south side of my house so it gets some reflected heat off the wall as well.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 3:39PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Like Spedigrees, I am suffering from severe crepe myrtle envy. If they ever develop varieties cold hardy to -10, I'll definitely give them a try. I love the trunks even more than the blossoms. Tree Oracle's fall color is stupendous!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 1:03PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Hatrick,

Mine are in serious full sun. The Hopi CMs are next to the southern side of the house. They have some tall oaks to the east of them so they get sort of dappled morning sun. By 9:00 am or so in the summer, they get full sun from then until around 6:00 - 7:00 pm. Certainly being near the house, helps with the heat but I have another Hopi next to the driveway that blooms just as well and it gets roughly the same amount of sun. Of course, the driveway may have the same heat effect as the house but my gut instinct is that it doesn't matter for this particular cultivar. It's the one variety that I would try in this part of the country before any other one. If it doesn't bloom well, then you have no chance with any other variety.

My Acoma is blocked by the house from getting sun until 11:00 am or so but it's in sun the rest of the day. The Red Rocket gets sun most of the day. It's blocked from getting sun at the very end of the day by a birch tree next to it. It is also next to the driveway but it's not a great bloomer. It's a good grower, though. It puts on a stellar show every fall, too.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 2:23PM
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chihoang20

I had one muskogee and one Dynamite planted in the fall 2011. both survived the first winter. however, the Dynamite die to the ground after the second winter. Now, I purchased a hopi and a red rocket to replace it. I love crape but hate the fact that I may have to start all over again at any point. Hope my new crapes survive.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 10:02PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

(also posted on an earlier thread - this one is more appropriate)

I stopped at a local nursery today to buy some potting soil for a houseplant that just came in. On the way to the cashier I passed a bunch of shrubs on sale and a Hopi Crape Myrtle with beautiful fall foliage grabbed me. It wouldn't let me go so I drove home with a crape myrtle riding shotgun.

Now I have to figure out where to put it. Most of the references I read say full sun exposure; a few say partial shade.

Full sun space for a small tree/large shrub that grows 10 ft wide is hard to come by. If it can take partial shade I have a few more options.

Does anyone have any experience with crape myrtles in partial shade in southern New England?

Claire

    Bookmark   October 6, 2013 at 6:16PM
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tree_oracle(z6b MA)

Claire,

Partial shade in this part of the country is probably going to have a negative effect how well your CM blooms. It will survive just fine and put on a good fall foliage show but CMs need heat and lots of sun to bloom well.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 5:31PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Thanks, tree_oracle. I'm OK if it doesn't bloom in profusion, although a moderate amount of blooms would be good. The fall foliage is what drew me to this particular Hopi and if it grows happily I'll be satisfied.

I planted it in a part shade spot near a Viburnum 'Winterthur' and a V. 'Brandywine' (both still babies) and I'm expecting a fine fall foliage display from the three of them with fruit from the viburnums. There's also a volunteer sumac with good color nearby. Hopefully I'll get white flowers in late spring from the viburnums and then some pink summer bloom from the CM.

Claire

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 10:18AM
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