Gardening Articles: Landscaping :: Trees, Shrubs, & Vines
by Charlie Nardozzi
Crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia) are often called the "lilacs of the south." They grace many homes with beautiful flowers in midsummer when few other shrubs are blooming. Although considered a southern plant, new varieties of crapemyrtle have proven hardy in colder climates. There also are dwarf "mini" varieties that can be used in hanging baskets, perennial gardens, and containers.
Dwarf 'Yuma' crapemyrtle
From the U.S. Arboretum come 4 award-winning crapemyrtle selections that feature powdery mildew resistance, a dwarf habit, and colorful bark. 'Lipan', 'Sioux', and 'Yuma' are small, multistemmed trees that grow 13 to 20 feet tall. Other significant features include a flowering period from July until frost, unusual bark color (white to gray), and stunning fall foliage. 'Yuma' is a dwarf version of its sisters, only growing 4 to 11 feet tall. It sports red flowers, tan bark, and maroon fall foliage. All four are widely available.
Go to the US National Arboretum Web site to find out more about these crapemyrtle selections: www.usna.usda.gov/Newintro/crapemyr.html
If you want to grow an even shorter crapemyrtle, try some of the new 'mini' varieties. Most grow less than 2 feet tall, with some such as 'Pocomoke' (rose red flowers) and 'Chicksaw' (fuchsia pink flowers) reaching only 8 inches tall. They flower as vigorously as normal-sized crapemyrtles, yet can be grown in containers and even hanging baskets.
For more on these varieties, check out the crapemyrtle Web site at: www.lagerstroemia.com.
In the garden, crapemyrtles are generally hardy to USDA zone 7, with some varieties root-hardy to USDA zone 6. They grow best in a sunny location, in heavy loam to clay loam soil, with a pH between 5 and 6.5.