Crepe Myrtle

stellmarAugust 10, 2013

Have ordered crepe myrtles several times over the years but they were pretty small when they arrived and never really thrived. I scored one that is about 5 feet tall for $12. Its the watermelon color I have wanted. Has anyone had any luck with them here in the northwest? Any tips? Right now its in my nursery, I'm planning on planting it in the fall, it gets morning sun and is thriving but I wanted to plant it in front where it will get the full sun I thought they liked!

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goofyisgreen(Z8 PacNW)

I lived for a good while in both Richmond and Baltimore , so I'm well familiar with the Crepe Myrtles which thrive in the SE United States. There, they are a piece of cake to grow, and one of the most cherished and revered trees in that part of the U.S.

Here, they are a challenge. If you are hoping for a bloom, I'd sight them in the absolute sunniest and hottest place you can. I planted three in a combo sun/filtered shade in the backyard and they've never bloomed, despite my extensive efforts. Here, they need as much sun & heat as possible.

Otherwise, enjoy them for what they are, regardless of bloom--a wonderful landscape plant with multi-season interest and appeal.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 5:33AM
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I have had a crepe myrtle for several years. It grows beautifully, but has never bloomed. I think our summer just isn't quite long enough.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 12:17PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

As with orchard fruits you have to plant certain cultivars to get satisfactory results. One that seems to work out here is 'Natchez', it has even been planted as a street tree in Seattle. It is a tall one with white flowers. Another one seen on streets there is 'Tuscarora'.

The Center for Urban Horticulture has multiple different shrubby kinds planted in one of its parking lots, where they can be easily seen and assessed. At a minimum a hot situation like that is what is required for flowering here, on top of planting the right kinds. Some Seattle specimens in what should be adequate exposures still produce few, if any blooms.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 2:57PM
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There are some groups of them at The Oregon Garden in Silverton, OR.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Oregon Garden

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 10:25PM
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...those are of course well south in a hot-summer location. The one across the street here in Portland, the color is similar to watermelon, blooms reliably every year.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2013 at 11:15PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Glanced what must have been a sizable Lagerstroemia blooming alongside a Catalpa on a Portland side street earlier this summer, don't know if this is one mentioned in the P. Reynolds Portland tree book or not (I don't have a copy).

This post was edited by bboy on Mon, Aug 12, 13 at 12:46

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 12:41PM
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I lived in VA for a time, and enjoyed all the lovely crepe myrtles there. I think they probably do not do well in the Northwest because our late spring is not warm enough--there the daytime temps are already in the 80s and nighttime temps in the 60s by the beginning of May. I suppose that crepe myrtles may do well in the warmer places in OR. When I moved here (Kitsap Peninsula), I was struck by the abundance and beauty of rhodies and hydrangeas. Why wrestle with a non-native plant?

    Bookmark   August 12, 2013 at 11:45PM
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George Three LLC

maybe a stewartia for you?


    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 2:48AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Almost all rhododendrons and entirely all hydrangeas aren't native here either. When in flower Lagerstroemia produces a regionally unique effect, which can be gotten merely with some care in selection of the planting site and the cultivar.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 8:43PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

There are two basic kinds of Crepe Myrtle. One is TREE type and the other is more like shrub. In Colder climates the shrub type die in the winter and grow back from root in the sprin. I had some of those in Southwest MO. In GA, they grow like a tree and hve to be topped every winter to stay low and bushy. Eversince I moved to Seattle area, hav not see CM anywhere. I thing it has to do with the cool temperatures.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 3:20PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Habit varies from miniature to tree depending on cultivar. As with topping of most other kinds of trees the habit is spoiled by this practice. Jacobson, Trees of Seattle - Second Edition (2006) designates the tree as "uncommon" there, gives 15 Seattle locations (including street tree plantings with multiple individuals; a collection of various different kinds can be seen in one of the parking lots at the Center for Urban Horticulture).

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 12:06PM
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I think it's possible. I bought this CM with a few others from Mac----ons a few years ago. This paticular one is planted near an asphalt walkway (I think it's bboy who suggested this to me when I posted a question awhile ago) and it has flower buds now (Aug 2013). I don't know if they're going to bloom for sure but if the weather is still warm enough I hope they will. The plant is no more than 2 feet.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2013 at 2:18PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

It seems that summers her are not warm enough for CM. In Atlanta, GA(for example) they start blooming late June-Early July .
Both Seattle and Atlanta are on USDA hardiness zone 8. That means have similar winters. But the summer are way different.
That is the reason, perhaps, why I do not see any CM around here.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 3:18AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

And in recent years I am encountering them repeatedly - they're getting to be a cliche, like 'Forest Pansy' red-buds, 'Ancot' (and 'Grace') smoke trees and paperbark maples. When people choose the right kinds, they bloom. Usually August onward, but during a recent year I was seeing Seattle street tree plantings fully out in July.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2013 at 7:30PM
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One summer quite a few years ago, I was blown away by the spectacular flowering of the crepe myrtle at the University of Washington Medicinal Herb Garden. Everything must have been aligned right that year - including the weather, the tree's environment and the tree's makeup - for the tree to put on such a glorious show. The papery flowers were described as a raspberry pink.

Its 1990 measurements, from a list of the state's champion trees, were: circumference 1'5", height 32', crown 19'.

Not long after it was measured and bloomed so wonderfully, the tree was rewarded by being cut down when part of the medicinal herb garden was removed for something else. So much for being a state champion!

Here is a link that might be useful: The late Lagerstroemia in the UW Medicinal Herb Garden

    Bookmark   August 27, 2013 at 2:45PM
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