Crape Myrtle Flowers for the First Time!

rockman50(6b SEMASS)August 10, 2011

I planted this Crape Myrtle back in 2008. The variety is "Muskogee". It has grown like crazy the past few years and is finally flowering this summer! This variety has a soft lavender color. I have seen conflicting hardiness info on this variety. Some sources claim 0 to +5. Field tests in Chester County PA indicate 0 to -5. These ranges indicate that this crape survives right at the zone 6/7 transition. The lowest temperature experienced by mine so far has been +1, with no die back. It is 15 feet tall.

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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

Congratulations! 15 feet tall with those flowers is impressive!

Claire

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 11:52AM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

and could you post a pic of the whole plant?

Claire

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 11:54AM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

Here is a pic of the entire plant, from a few weeks ago when it just started to flower. When I planted it, I thought it would be relatively small. But I did some research (after I planted it of course) and I guess this variety can grow into a 30 ft tree! (if it lives long term). It is, however, providing nice shade for the patio. The location is full southern exposure, so the house protects the plant from cold N winds in winter and the location bakes in full sun in summer. I might need to prune it, to encourage a more bushy habit, with more flowers? But I am not sure how to go about it. So I will just let it go for now and see how it matures.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 12:29PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

That's going to be gorgeous when it's covered with flowers like they are in the south (I just googled for images). It looks quite happy there, but at 30 feet the top might be pruned by the north winter winds, depending on the height of your house.

Claire

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 4:42PM
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diggingthedirt

That's very, very nice, Rockman!

My attitude towards Crapes is to enjoy then when they do well but not rely on them for anything. I had a big old white one that must have been 20 feet tall, until that brutal winter a few years back ... The following spring, it never leafed out until July 4th. We were having a party later that weekend, and I was approaching it with a bow saw - that must have gotten its attention at last, because I found a few tiny little leaves on some of the branches.

It's now a multi-stemmed shrub, maybe about 5 feet tall at this point - I'd like it to get tall again, so I remove a few branches, right at the base, each winter. Nearby, a younger, deep red one is approaching the size of yours - I'll get some photos soon.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 8:54PM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

I don't think it will ever get as tall as the house. I suspect a bad winter will make sure of that! But I will enjoy it as long as it lives. Digginthedirt: Do you know what variety your white crape is? Based on your description, I suspect it might be "Natchez" which is hardy just down to 0. I have read that Crapes do become a bit hardier as they mature and their trunks thicken. If you are interested, here is a chart ranked by crape myrtle hardiness based on field tests conducted at a nursery just NW of Philly, where winters are actually quite similar to SE coastal New England. If mine dies in a brutal winter, I might try one of the varieties at the top of the list. Any crape hardy to -8 or -12 should do very well, long term, down here along the SE coast.

Here is a link that might be useful: Crape Myrtle Hardiness Chart

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 9:24PM
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diggingthedirt

Thanks for the list, Rockman. I may have to pick out a few more of these beauties; a summer like this one really makes me appreciate those late flowers, and the crapes seem to be enjoying all this heat.

I think my white one is Natchez, but the tag is long gone. I picked it up about 20 years ago, before I thought about keeping tags or writing down varieties of things I planted. It was pretty mature when it died back, maybe that's why it eventually leafed out.

Design wise, the only problem I have with Crapes is siting them so that a plant that's large tree one year but becomes a small shrub the next year doesn't leave a noticeable gap in the garden. My crapes (and a vitex, and a couple of marginally hardy willow oaks) are now surrounded by hydrangeas, and I think the next severe winter will bring a definite change to my garden, but one I can live with for a couple of years as the crapes regain some height.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 2:24PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

Thanks for posting! I'm a bit envious having fallen hard for crape myrtles last summer in Alabama. The flowers are great, the bark is lovely and the glossy foliage looks good all the time. I'm glad to hear that there are areas of New England where they do well and hope yours doesn't encounter any winters too harsh for it.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 8:47PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

I'm wondering when to start looking for flowers on my little 'Hopi' that was planted last fall (and survived the winter with no problems).

It's in part shade so I expect diminished flowering but I'm hoping for some once it gets used to being a woodland shrub rather than a full sun specimen.

Does anyone have crape myrtle flowers in New England already this year?

Claire

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 12:33PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Claire, your crape won't ' get used to' a woodland location.

Rockman, congratulations! If I could offer one bit of advice from a Southerner, it would be to be very conservative with any fertilization. Not only will excess fertilizer hinder heavy blooming, but could make your tree more susceptible to cold damage. Whatever you do, don't fertilize past July in your climate....and that includes being exposed to anything you may be apply to your lawn.

We think of Crapes as a tree that does great in almost xeric conditions....very little to no irrigation or watering and feeding.

Good luck for many years to come!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 1:00PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

rhizo_1: I bought the 'Hopi' because of the great fall color and I'm fine if that's all I get, but a few flowers would be gravy. So far it's growing well and summer is usually pretty dry here (except for when hurricanes or nor'easters blast by). The diminished sun is the wild card.

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Sun, Jul 6, 14 at 14:51

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 2:35PM
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diggingthedirt

No flowers on either of mine yet, but the tips are definitely looking like they're thinking about doing it soon.

I expect flowers in August, but everything seems to be blooming at slightly different times from normal this summer, don't you think?

I had my older one, which is white (sorry, no ID info) in a woodland setting for its first 5 years or so. After it was nearly killed to the ground (it was, at that time, at least 12 feet tall) I moved it to a sunnier location. The difference was remarkable. Can you thin some trees near your Hopi? I know you love your woods, but crapes only 'tolerate' shade.

Also, you might consider getting it a friend - I have 2 big crapes, the white and a red (no ID on that one either, sorry) and now I have several babies coming along in a mixed bed. I'm really excited to see what they turn out to be.

Rhizo_1, thanks for that information - I had no idea these guys liked to be kept dry. Not that I water much of anything, but when I've got the hose out I normally give my crapes a drink. I'll have to stop that, I guess.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 10:13PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It might interest you all to know that my location in Alabama is zone 7b. Our temperatures are fairly similar to my brother's, who lives in Chester, NY.

We saw temperatures in the low single digits this past winter, with no resulting problems to the gazillion Crapes all over the city. By the way, they are just now entering their full glory here. Our spring arrived earlier than most of you, no doubt.

Crape myrtles don't need buddies in order to produce viable seed. They'll do what needs to be done all by themselves.....with some help from the bees and other pollinators. :-)

The hybrids, though, won't produce offspring true to their hybrid parent.

OK....I'll head on back to beautiful 'bama.....don't want to overstay my welcome. Y'all come see me, hear? ;-)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 11:24PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

DtD: The main shade for the 'Hopi' is a big branch of an old wild cherry (Prunus serotina) that's in decline. I did some light pruning already but I want to let the cherry have its last hurrah (it still blooms and fruits beautifully). I'm expecting that branch to go one of these years and the 'Hopi' will naturally get more sun. I'm really limited as to places to move a shrub - all of the full sun spots are exposed to nasty winter winds.

My fallback position has been to see how the crape myrtle does this year and take down the cherry branch if necessary. But so long as the 'Hopi' seems happy, even without flowers, I can wait for the cherry to finish up.

rhizo-1: I hadn't thought about seedlings. I would love to have crape myrtles seeding around here - I enjoy volunteers of all sorts. I just have to get a few flowers...

Claire

This post was edited by claire on Mon, Jul 7, 14 at 8:49

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 8:46AM
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rockman50(6b SEMASS)

FYI: My Muscogee is now producing lots of flower clusters. They are not blooming yet--that won't happen until early August. It looks like it will be a good show this year. And thanks for the advice rhizo---I did not apply any fertilizer this year.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 5:46PM
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