Crape myrtle in Denver area

richsdDecember 7, 2013

I know crape myrtles aren't hardy in Denver, but I've read they can be planted and treated as perennials in colder areas (where the top dies down to the ground each winter and resprouts from the roots in spring.)

Has anyone tried this? It might be worth the experiment.

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treebarb Z5 Denver

They want a more acidic soil than most of us have, 6 - 6.5 is the recommended ph. I'm at 7.9, seems like most soil around here is in the 7.5 range. If you've got a really well amended area you could try adding acid peat moss, ammonium or aluminum sulfate fertilizers. You'd have to water them a lot, too. Seems like a lot of work for something that will freeze to the ground every winter.

But, that's me. I don't bother with annuals much, either. It's your yard, do what makes you happy!


Here is a link that might be useful: colorado soil problems

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 4:25PM
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Thanks, Barb. I agree the soils are another problem here in Denv. (in addition to the cold.) But if you've ever seen them blooming in the south or in Cal, you might fall in love with them like I have...

Different topic: With this arctic blast upon us, I'm probably looking at a bunch of dead roses this spring ("flower carpet" brand is what I've planted- beautiful rose.)

FYI for rose lovers here: I found this rose variety that was bred in Canada, so you know it's ultra hardy here. It's called "Winnipeg Parks" and it's a beauty. It has light red roses (kind of the shade of Knock Out) and its newer foliage is tinged maroon or purplish. Nice, nice. I bought it at Lowes in their bargain bin- go figure... And this is only one of many very nice, hardy roses they've bred for cold climates (Google " Buck roses " and you won't believe what's available for sub-zero roses. Buck was a prolific hybridizer of hardy roses in Iowa before his death, and he did it as a hobby!)

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 1:57PM
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Richsd, I tried crepe myrtle in Parker from a rooted cutting I brought back with me from a trip to Texas. It did fine through the summer, I had high hopes, but it didn't come back the next spring. There are supposed to be types of crepe myrtle that are hardy to zone 6 or 7 now, those types might act as a perennial but mine certainly didn't!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 10:54PM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

Rich, Liz brought up a good point. See if you can find a zone 6 type from the coldest source you can (stay clear of sources from the south). You want something that's already taken some cold. If you protected it you might have a shot at it.

Buck roses are a good choice here. I like the Morden series, too. I have Centennial and Sunrise, both prolific bloomers. I don't do grafted roses anymore, just own root . Do you know if the flower carpet types are grafted or own root?

What I'm worried about with most of my plants is the temp swing we had. 65 Monday then plummeting to sub zero. Some of my roses still had green leaves Monday, yours probably did, too. I did wrap my trees and mulch my beds before the deep freeze, but this has been a long, cold stretch.

We may have a lot of pruning to do come spring.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 9:05AM
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Liz and Barb, thanks for your ideas and posts. It just so happens I live in Phoenix, so I don't have to worry about crape myrtle hardiness here. But the family plan is to relocate to Denver metro in the next few years to join my brother in Aurora and others in west metro.

I'm glad you've heard about Buck roses. The majority of people have never heard of them, and I doubt if the big box stores ever sell those varieties (shame.)

The flower carpet rose I mentioned is one I planted at my brother's house in Aurora. He's not a gardener at ALL, so the only attention it gets is when I visit him a few times a year. Hopefully it will sprout from the ground again this spring :) I'm not familiar with the Morden series. I'll research that on google.

It's kind of ironic: Both Denver and Phoenix have their own, but equally serious, gardening short-falls. I'm not sure which is worse. At least in Denver you guys have better water (less salts.)

However, Denver has that horrible, sticky clay soil and wild swings in temps that split the barks on trees; Phoenix also has its share of soil shortcomings (high alkalinity soil and water, and caliche here and there), plus it has blast furnace temperatures for at least 4 months a year, possibly longer. The thing I like about Phoenix is that you can garden 12 months/ year. My calendulas, stocks and sweet alyssum are looking great now.

BTW: I have one gorgeous crape myrtle here in my Phoenix yard (10' tall, dormant now), but I have to admit I have to baby it somewhat with nutrients. It's the only one I've seen in my neighborhood.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 11:36AM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

I'm wondering if a crape myrtle is something you could get away with here in a pot. It'd be a commitment and you'd have to choose a smaller variety. Maybe have to prune the top and roots every so often, but that way you'd have control of the soil and water it gets. You'd also have to designate space for it in the garage every year.

People do that with blueberries here.

It sounds like you're pretty committed if you've got one going in Phoenix!

My folks have a vacation place in the south and I do admire the rhododendrons, azaleas, crape myrtles and tea olives there.

But, they don't have 300 days of sunshine a year! I'll take the trade offs.

Good luck if you decide to try it. Let us know how it does!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 8:18PM
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I planted a Seven Sons Flower which is considered the Crepe Myrtle of the North. It's only been in a year but is doing quite well. I placed it near 2 patio areas in a "prized" area of the backyard.

"Heptacodium miconioides is a large, fountain-shaped, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub that typically grows 15-20' at maturity with a 10' spread. May also be trained as a single-trunk tree. Features terminal clusters of fragrant, creamy-white flowers in late summer to early fall. Flowers appear in whorls within each branched cluster, with each whorl containing 7 tiny flowers (hence the common name of seven-son flower). Flowers are followed in fall by an equally showy (if not showier) display: small, purplish-red fruits (1/2-inch-long drupes) crowned by five very showy, sepal-like rose calyces which elongate after bloom and last into late fall. Tan bark exfoliates to reveal attractive brown inner bark, which provides good winter interest. Leaves are narrow, shiny, ovate-oblong and medium-green. This plant, native to China, is rare and may no longer exist in the wild. However, it has somewhat recently become available in commerce and is increasing in popularity as an ornamental shrub, though it may be difficult to find. It is a good source of nectar for butterflies in the fall."

    Bookmark   December 16, 2013 at 8:19PM
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Aloha2009, I saw the Seven Sons shrub in a garden catalog, didn't order it because of the crappy plants I got from that source before but was really interested. How is yours doing? Have you had it a full year so it's already survived a CO winter and our super crazy spring weather last spring? Did you find it in the Denver area or did you have to mail order? Any suggestions on where I might find one?

Richsd--my sister has one of the smaller crepe myrtles in a huge pot on her patio in Ok City, it's done very well for several years. They are certainly gorgeous plants!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2013 at 3:06PM
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kvenkat(5a Colo)

I lived in Louisville, KY for a time. That was zone 6 and there were crepe myrtles everywhere. I miss seeing those. I also lived in Tempe for 4 years and from there I miss the fragrant jasmine bushes.

Now I am residing in Parker, CO. The roses I have are own root Buck roses. They have been doing well with only a small amount of winter protection. Other rose types that can brave our climate are some of the Kordes and Austin varieties. I did try one Kordes rose but it was in a pot and did not survive the winter.

if you decide to try growing a crepe here in Denver, I wish you luck. It will require extra work and bother for a result which may not be satisfactory. Let us know how it goes.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 10:44AM
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