You can’t live in the South and not brush up against a Crape Myrtle. They are in almost every landscape here and with good reason. They bloom from mid summer to fall when the leaves turn a gorgeous yellow orange and the bark on mature trees is an interesting smooth flowing pattern. And every kid in the south grew up making the buds “bloom” by twisting it between their fingers.
Hardy to zone 7 they are grown usually as small trees but are really shrubs. The mature ones can reach up to 35 feet. Crape Myrtles are not heavy feeders but do bloom prodigiously in shades from white to crimson including pinks, fuschia, and apricot. Newer cultivars tout dwarf size and resistance to powdery mildew. Healthy trees are usually not affected.
I inherited a sickly little Crape Myrtle shrub that had been planted in the darkest corner of my shade garden. I transplanted it twice before finding a home for it and circled it with azaleas. It promptly contracted scale, a pest common to azaleas and only recently recorded on Crape Myrtles. It did its best last year but was almost completely white with scale from the ground to the smallest twig. I waited until the leaves changed and then “hat-racked” the tree pruning it to about 3 1/2′ effectively cutting off almost all the scale – which, by the way, I did not compost. I cleaned up all debris and mulch from around the tree and finally sprayed Pam, yes Pam cooking spray on all the wood left on the tree to suffocate any I missed. I also gave it a light spray in March of this year to address any of the nasties that managed to winter over in the soil. This poor little tree is now over 8′ tall and full of blooms. You gotta love a plant that really wants to live.
Happy Gardening and remember to “bee” positive!