Summer is in full effect, which means water is a top priority across the country. Are you looking around your landscape, a client’s landscape or your retail space and wondering how you can bring more color to summer gardens, especially if you live in a drought prone area? Crape myrtles are a favorite that can fit into a variety of landscape styles and also feature blooming color, interesting foliage and in some cases, unique bark. Though they are sometimes brushed aside as too “common” or traditional, when planted in the right spot with the right companion plants, they can turn a water-wise garden into something very special.
Crape myrtles come in a variety of flower colors, from white, pale pink and rose-red, to soft lavender. Two standout varieties include ‘Arapaho’ and ‘Catawba’. As with all crape myrtles, once established, these sun-loving plants are drought tolerant and bloom from summer through fall. Crapemyrtle ‘Arapaho’ features reliable, deep cherry-red blooms; but it’s the unique, cinnamon colored bark and red-tinged foliage that make ‘Arapaho’ a standout specimen. Crape myrtle ‘Catawba’ produces large showy clusters of long-lasting dark purple flowers. As a bonus, ‘Catawba’ offers three seasons of foliage color. Foliage in spring emerges with a bronze cast, turning to a medium green in summer and then a vibrant orange-red in fall.
Both of these crape myrtle varieties grow to just 10- to 15-feet tall, making them perfect as a focal point in both smaller, urban landscapes and in larger landscapes. Crape myrtles will tolerate a variety of soils and once established, need minimal supplemental watering. Because they tolerate intense heat rather well, they are excellent specimens for medians, parks and parking lots. The main pest to watch out for is scale, which can attack trees that are stressed.
T-Y Nursery Plants for July
- Punica Nana – Dwarf Pomegranate
- Salvia greggii ‘Red’
- BUDDLEJA davidii ‘Black Knight’
- Stipa tenuissima
- PENNISETUM alopecuroides ‘Hameln’
- Calamagrostis x acutiflora ‘Karl Foerster’
- Bulbine frutescens
- Cercidium hybrid ‘Desert Museum’
- Lagerstroemia hybrid ‘Muskogee’
- Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Green Cloud’