Choose crape myrtles that ‘fit’ home landscape

John Young, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.  |  4/20/2009 10:49:57 PM

Sustainable Landscape News Distributed 04/20/09

By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists Dan Gill, Allen Owings and John Young

Crape myrtles are one of the most widely used summer-flowering trees in Louisiana landscapes. Many of us are not familiar with the tremendous array of varieties and sizes available. One group of crape myrtles being used more because of its smaller size and excellent flowering performance is the semi-dwarf.

Semi-dwarf varieties normally have slower initial growth rates than medium- and large-growing varieties. These plants reach heights of 10-12 feet and fit better into today’s smaller residential yards. 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 beautifully shaped. The canopy matures to a weeping, umbrella shape on a 12-foot-tall tree. White flowers appear in south Louisiana starting in early June 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.

Tonto is a red-flowering variety that reaches 10-12 feet tall, although some people have reported plants reaching heights of 14-15 feet. This variety is more upright-growing than Acoma. Disease resistance is also good.

Sioux produces hot-pink flowers and is slower growing than Acoma or Tonto. It is similar in growth habit to Tonto and has good resistance to leaf spot and powdery mildew.

You will be pleased with the results of any of these semi-dwarf varieties. Because you can keep these plants at a manageable size, they are a great example of placing the “right plant in the right place.”

Come to LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is located near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (La. Highway 30) in Baton Rouge across the street from the new LSU baseball stadium. Go online to Louisiana Yards and Neighborhoods for additional information.

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Editor: Mark Claesgens

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