Rene Schmit | 7/3/2013 11:28:34 PM
The seasonal blooming of crape myrtle trees are underway throughout the southern states and in Louisiana, and the spectacular and colorful display indicates well why crape myrtles are commonly referred to as “the flower of the south.” Crape myrtles continue to be one of the most popular small flowering trees for landscape use with a variety of size and color to fit most any landscape design. Crape myrtle cultivars recommended by the LSU AgCenter for Louisiana landscapes include Natchez, Tuscarora, Muskogee, Basham’s Party Pink, Tuskegee, Tonto, Acoma, and Sioux.
Natchez is the top performing crape myrtle and the most popular variety grown in Louisiana and was introduced in 1978. Large white flowers and exfoliating bark are characteristics of this cultivar that reaches heights of 30 feet at maturity. Bloom period is about 110 days in Louisiana, starting in early June. It also has excellent resistance to powdery mildew and cercospora leaf spot.
Tuscarora was introduced in 1981 and is noted for its coral pink flowers. It is less susceptible to powdery mildew and cercospora leaf spot than most cultivars. Flowering begins in late June or early July and will continue for 70 – 80 days. The trunk has mottled, light brown bark that exfoliates increasingly as the tree ages. It can easily reach heights of 25 feet in the landscape.
Muskogee was introduced in 1978 and has medium size, light lavender flowers. Blooming period is excellent, beginning in mid-June and lasting 110 – 120 days. It has good tolerance to powdery mildew and cercospora leaf spot. Bark characteristics are desirable but not as good as Natchez and Tuscarora. It reaches a height of more than 20 feet.
Basham’s Party Pink is a tall hybrid introduced in 1965. Its blooms are lavender-pink and compete with Natchez for size. It is very comparable and similar in performance to Muskogee and resists cercospora leaf spot and powdery mildew well.
Tuskegee was introduced in 1986. It is a medium size crape myrtle tree that reaches a mature height of 15-20 feet. It produces dark pink flowers that begins in early June and occurs for 80-90 days. Like Natchez and Tuscarora, it also has excellent resistance to powdery mildew and cercospora leaf spot.
Tonto is a semi-dwarf to medium crape myrtle reaching heights of 12 – 14 feet. It was introduced in 1990 and has excellent resistance to powdery mildew and cercospora leaf spot. It retains foliage well into late fall, has satisfactory exfoliating bark and displays deep red flowers.
Acoma was introduced during the 1990’s. This variety of semi-dwarf crape myrtle reaches a height of 10-14 feet and is similar in size to Tonto. It has a unique characteristic in providing a weeping, cascading growth habit. White flowers appear in mid-to-late June and last around 90 days. It has good resistance to powdery mildew but a greater susceptibility to cercospora leaf spot.
Sioux is also a semi-dwarf crape myrtle that was introduced during the 1990’s. Its flowers are vivid pink and lasts from June through September. Mature height ranges from 10-15 feet and it has good resistance to powdery mildew but a greater susceptibility to cercospora leaf spot.
Crape Myrtles are great trees for Louisiana summers and continue to offer the perfect choice for coloring the home landscape during the hottest time of the year.Rene’ Schmit is LSU AgCenter County Agent for St. Charles Parish and can be reached at 985-785-4473.