Crape Myrtle in Puget Sound

Merilia(8 PNW)July 1, 2011

Are there any varieties that will grow (and flower well) in this area? And if so, where can I buy one? I've got space that gets full sun, but I live in Bothell which is apparently one of the colder suburbs.

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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Garden centers stock them. See the collection in the parking lot in the NE part of the Center for Urban Horticulture. Too early for bloom, in our cool summers there is often not much until Aug.-Sep.

Although last year I did see some street tree plantings out in July.

For additional locations see Jacobson, Trees of Seattle - Second Edition (2006).

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 6:41PM
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goofyisgreen(Z8 PacNW)

I would only consider planting them in full sun if you want them to flower. I'm a Mid-Atlantic transplant, I planted three of them 4 years ago in a partial sun part of the yard (I don't get any full sun in my yard) but parts of the yard get 5+ hours in and out of the neighboring canopy in the afternoon.

Incidentally, that Thanksgiving snowfall almost did them in. I could only tell that 2 of them were alive in the 1st week in May, and the final one, more badly damaged, only emerged with signs of life in the last week of May.

Full sun and bloom-boosting fertilizer, that's what I'd recommend.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 3:44AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Never apply phosphorus to a soil that has not been shown to have a need for it via a soil test.

The result of phosphate overfertilizing is leaf chlorosis. Phosphorus is known to compete with iron and
manganese uptake by roots, and deficiencies of these two metal micronutrients causes interveinal
yellowing. It's my belief that many of the chlorotic shrubs we see in urban landscapes are suffering
indirect iron (or manganese) deficiency from overapplication of phosphorus. Moreover, it has been
experimentally demonstrated that high levels of phosphorus are detrimental to mycorrhizal health and
lower the rate of mycorrhizal infection of root systems. This mutually beneficial relationship between the
fungus and the plant roots allows the plant to more effectively explore the soil environment and extract
needed nutrients. In the absence of mycorrhizae, the plant must expend more energy growing additional
roots and root hairs to accomplish the same task

Here is a link that might be useful: The Myth of Phosphate Fertilizer

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 12:21AM
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plantknitter(8)

BB, I was waiting for your reply..........

and wasn't there a bill in the state legislature this year that would ban phosphate in fertilizers? was it just for turf? did it pass both houses and get signed? I never heard and am not finding anything final on a search.

(sorry to hijack the post)

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 1:41AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I haven't heard of that bill, which if passed would be the start of quite a problem for anyone who was trying to farm or garden soil that did happen to need some phosphorus.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 12:33PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I'm not in Puget Sound but I've never fertilized my crape myrtle and it blooms very well each summer.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 6:17PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Fertilizer needs vary with the makeup and condition of the soil on each planting site.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 2:19AM
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Merilia(8 PNW)

Ok, so I should wait a month and then visit the Center for Urban Horticulture to see what is doing well there? August seems like an awful time to plant a tree, so let's hope I can still buy one this fall. Also, I want to plant this in my front yard, not in a parking lot--is success unlikely if I don't stick it right next to my driveway?

I looked up the Pecos cultivar of crape myrtle on another site and oddly enough, "Bothell, Washington" showed up on their list of just 1/2 dozen cities where that site's users have successfully grown it. Now I want to wander around my neighborhood looking for that one tree :D

Since this thread has already been dragged off topic, is there a reason I should rethink my strategy of mulching my soil with compost? I don't think my soil is deficient in nutrients, but I like the look and so far all my plants are doing great. I don't even bother to dig the stuff in, but somehow it still seems to be improving the texture of the soil below. Obviously compost has a lower concentration of macronutrients than what you'd normally call "fertilizer" but I'm spreading the stuff about 2 inches thick, so in absolute terms it's probably adding quite a bit.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 2:36PM
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mariev_seattle(PNW Z8 Sunset Z5)

Here's a link to a previous thread on Crape myrtles, including personal accounts of varieties that have bloomed here in the PNW.

In fall 2009 we planted a 'Red Rocket' Crape myrtle in full sun about 5-6 feet away from the south-facing wall of our house, probably the hottest spot on our yard near Green Lake. It's a multi-trunk tree that's about 6-7' feet tall, and it has beautiful red new growth and shiny green leaves. However, it didn't bloom last summer since it was too cool, but it had beautiful red-orange fall color.

Our neighbors have a Natchez Crape myrtle that's on the East side of their house, so not scorchingly hot but sun from early morning until early afternoon. It was planted about 5-6 years ago and is now 9-10' feet high, and it has had beautiful white blooms every summer, except last summer which was unusually cool.

Another neighbor down the street has two huge, mature Crape myrtles planted in their parking strip, and they are usually full of blooms if we get a more typically warm summer. That's why we planted two more 'Natchez' Crape myrtles in our south-facing parking strips last fall. All three Crape myrtles were a few weeks late to leaf out this year, probably not until late May, but they all look beautiful now. Even if they don't bloom, they're beautiful, low-maintenance trees with beautiful exfoliating bark and a lovely winter form.

I would definitely plant a Crape myrtle if I had a sunny spot for it. Wells-Medina Nursery always has several varieties of Crape myrtles, so go there to see the different varieties available. However, I would do some research on those that bloom the earliest and actual heights and widths at maturity because what's indicated on the Wells-Medina's tags don't seem very accurate. Also, I would wait to buy and plant a tree or large shrub until the rain starts again in the fall, so you won't have to water it just to keep it alive.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:35AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Anything newly planted has to be watered anyway, maybe for one or two summers afterward - and you have to buy when the outlets have the stuff in stock. Fall is usually leftovers, often starved for nutrients, except for items received specifically to be sold at that time.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 1:51AM
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bonine4336_comcast_net

I have a nursery near Portland, OR and we grow a lot of varieties of Crape myrtle. The best for Puget sound- where summers are cooler are 'Hopi'- Pink, 'Pecos'- pink, 'Zuni'-Lavender.
We just shipped some to City People's Nursery. Crape myrtles require a certain number of days above 85�F to flower well.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 2:45PM
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Merilia(8 PNW)

Thanks for the specific recommendations, pbonine!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 7:54PM
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jstn254(8)

What about the Lipan Lavender? I reeeeally like that one.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 11:54PM
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jstn254(8)

Actually anyone know where I can purchase a Lipan or two?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 12:22AM
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robert_the_gardener

RE:
Posted by plantknitter 8 (My Page) on Sun, Jul 3, 11 at 1:41
BB, I was waiting for your reply..........
and wasn't there a bill in the state legislature this year that would ban phosphate in fertilizers?

WATER QUALITY--FERTILIZER RESTRICTIONS
http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/DocumentCenter/View/8439

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 2:59PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Mine is a Zuni.

I was just in Atlanta and saw hundreds of them in all colors. They were everywhere in full bloom.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 12:08PM
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