P81201KIt is certainly not my favorite small tree. Actually, in most situations, I rather dislike it, which is why I sometimes accidentally spell it without the first ‘e’. It is a cop out; a micro tree that too often ends up where a larger and more respectable tree would be more appropriate. They are not shade trees. They are not not big enough for freeway landscapes or to be street trees on wide boulevards. They are not immune to diseases and insect infestations; and they commonly drop honeydew from aphid or scale infestation, and lose their bloom to powdery mildew. They are not ‘low-maintenance’, and really should be pruned more than they are, but will get you in trouble with the neighbors if you prune them as aggressively as they should be pruned.
They are popular because of their potential for remarkably flashy bloom, and because they do not get big enough to damage the sidewalks and curbs that they are so often planted next to. ‘Gardeners’ like them because they survive their neglect. That is no long list of attributes; but there is one more.
FALL COLOR! On a bad year, they merely turn bright yellow. This year, some are this exquisitely bright orange with a slight red blush. The various cultivars display various colors, so some are more colorful than others. They are also on different schedules, so the most colorful are not necessarily the most colorful every year. Those that colored early are already bare, but could be the most colorful next year if the weather turns cold early. A bunch in town that are also defoliating as fast as they color because of the recent rain, could be the most colorful next year if rain is delayed later than it was this year.P81201K+

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9 thoughts on “Crape Myrtle Finale

  1. They have magical color and are all sorts of shapes because people are nuts in their opinions of how to trim them. The thing is, all the opinionated people just say what NOT to do and never say HOW they should be pruned (just don’t do that thing where you get a fountain of blossoms in the spring). And then there’s the wild, multi trunked untrimmed mess that yields a few blossoms. I have never seen one quite the shape of the one you photographed. Interesting. I do like them, but occasionally wish they were better trimmed than they are…

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    1. The shape also depends on the cultivar. I find that the ‘Natchez White’ has a sloppy unkempt canopy when mature, but the best color in autumn. (Even though white is my favorite color, I do not think that it is a good color for crape myrtle.) The one in the picture is the common bright pink that might be ‘Tuscarora’. It usually has great color in autumn, but not always. It has good form, but needs to be pruned for clearance in trafficked areas. Pollarding works very well for crape myrtles, but is not an acceptable technique among horticultural professionals with something to prove. We all want to go along with the crowd.

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      1. To make matters worse, those who try to pollard crape myrtles or anything else that should get pollarded, is that they do not do it properly. Instead of being an overgrown thicket, pollarded trees are merely disfigured and torn . . . .and just plain icky!

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    1. Yes, I have heard about that and that some consider it to be too common like it is here. I know it is a very useful tree, and has plenty of attributes. What I dislike about it is that it is the default for ‘gardeners’ who do not care about their work.

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