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Crape Myrtles in PNW - trick to get them to bloom?

Posted by wynswrld98 z7 WA (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 22, 10 at 22:41

I have three Crape Myrtles I planted that have been through two summers, didn't bloom either summer. I planted them in the sunniest/hottest part of my landscape as I know they grow well in hot places like Southern California.

The foliage looks healthy and beautiful and gets nice fall color but NO blooms at all.

I'm in Seattle/Tacoma Washington area. Anyone in this area growing Crape Myrtles that are flowering and perhaps give me some tips? I haven't tried fertilizing nor compost but perhaps should?


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RE: Crape Myrtles in PNW - trick to get them to bloom?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 22, 10 at 23:20

Try different varieties. Plenty of them bloom here, this past summer they did not even wait until September. You can see multiple kinds plants around the northeast parking area at the Center for Urban Horticulture, in Seattle. Locations for some of the now rather frequent street tree plantings in Seattle can be found in Trees of Seattle - Second Edition (2006, Arthur Lee Jacobson).


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RE: Crape Myrtles in PNW - trick to get them to bloom?

I already have THREE different varieties, want to concentrate on trying to get them to bloom -- any suggestions re: compost? fertilization?


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RE: Crape Myrtles in PNW - trick to get them to bloom?

There is never a guarantee of crape myrtles blooming in our climate :-) Typically, it doesn't get hot enough for a long enough period of time to encourage reliable blooming on most. The ones in the CUH parking lot, which is pretty much an ideal location for crapes (full sun, reflected heat = a 'hot' spot), are even sporadic in their performance. I'd also assume that establishment and maturity of the plant will have something to contribute to the frequency of blooms as well.

Paul Bonine of Xera Plants (an Oregon wholesale grower) has done a lot of trialing of these for our climate and he suggests focusing on earlier flowering varieties. This is his list of recommended cultivars:

'Pink Velour' - early bloomer
'Acoma'
'Arapaho'
'Biloxi'
'Hopi'- early bloomer
'Natchez'
'Tuscarora'
'Zuni'


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RE: Crape Myrtles in PNW - trick to get them to bloom?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 23, 10 at 10:13

It's the climate, not the compost. You have to pick the right ones, same as with orchard apples and hybrid roses there are many different kinds - probably not that hard to end up with three that are not the best for this area.


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RE: Crape Myrtles in PNW - trick to get them to bloom?

  • Posted by bahia SF Bay Area (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 23, 10 at 15:01

I can speak from experience with Lagerstroemia 'Tuscarora' here in cool summer Berkeley, Calif, that this is not a good choice for guaranteed bloom. Four summers out of five I only get flower buds that may just barely bloom by late October, and the fall rains and onset of cooler temperatures stop them in their tracks. Just a few miles inland or further south where the summer temps may be 10F warmer each day, they bloom just fine. In those rare summers that we get some sustained warmth starting in late spring into early summer, it is another story.

Bottom line, they may just need more heat than you can give them. Enjoy them for the bark and fall color, but expecting great blooming may be beyond your control...


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RE: Crape Myrtles in PNW - trick to get them to bloom?

I have a 'Zuni' that is more than ten years old, probably closer to fifteen and it has bloomed every single year.

I know Portland is warmer than Seattle but just thought I'd throw in my experience anyway.

I don't fertilize it other than a topdressing of compost.


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RE: Crape Myrtles in PNW - trick to get them to bloom?

Two more to add to the list of early bloomers: 'PDXtra Early Red' (a Xera Plants exclusive) and L. chekiangensis.


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RE: Crape Myrtles in PNW - trick to get them to bloom?

I planted two one gallon 'Petite' I can't remember the rest of their names and they died the first winter. Paid a pretty penny for them at the Hardy Plant Society sale a couple years ago.


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