Allen D. Owings | 7/2/2005 2:38:47 AM
More varieties and sizes of crape myrtles are available than many people realize. One group of crape myrtles being used more because of its smaller size and excellent flowering performance is the semi-dwarf, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Allen Owings.
Semi-dwarf varieties normally have slower initial growth rates than medium and large varieties. These smaller plants reach heights of 10 to 12 feet in the landscape and fit better into today’s smaller residential lots. Some recommended semi-dwarf crape myrtles include Acoma, Tonto and Sioux. All of these are hybrids and were released from the United States National Arboretum.
Acoma is a beautifully shaped variety, Owings says. The canopy matures to a weeping, umbrella shape on a 12-foot-tall tree. White flowers start appearing in early June in south Louisiana and continue for 70-80 days. In LSU AgCenter studies, powdery mildew, a major disease in crape myrtles, has not been significant. The bark of Acoma crape myrtles exfoliates after five to seven years.
Owings says Tonto is a nice semi-dwarf with red flowers. Plants reach 10 to 12 feet, although some people have reported heights of 14 to 15 feet. This variety is more upright-growing than Acoma. Disease resistance is also good for this variety.
Sioux produces hot pink flowers and is probably slower growing than Acoma or Tonto. It is similar in growth habit to Tonto and has good resistance to leaf spot and powdery mildew.
"Try some of these semi-dwarf crape myrtles," Owings advises, adding, "You will be pleased with the results, and you can keep these plants at a manageable size to work for you in your landscape."
For related topics, click on the Lawn and Garden link at the LSU AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com. Additional yard and garden topics are available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.