Our Southern Summers
Carolina summers wouldn't be the same without the blooms of the
crape myrtle. Long known by many as the flower of the South, crape
myrtles perform beautifully throughout most of the state.
myrtle, or Lagerstroemia, is a favorite small tree or large
shrub for many Southern gardeners. It is a versatile flowering
plant with many attractive characteristics such as excellent bark
color, texture, form and shape, fall foliage color and seed pods
which persist in the winter.
specimen tree, ranging from less than 3 feet to more than 12 feet,
is well-suited to urban gardens and street planters. The ultimate
small tree height is usually below 30 feet and the roots can exist
in restricted areas, making it ideal for use under utility lines.
To accent its beauty, many homeowners often plant in a garden
setting with an underplanting of a favorite groundcover. The cooler,
zone 6 regions of the state are better off planting hybrids with
the more cold-hardy L. fauriei in their background. Look
for cultivar names like 'Hopi', 'Acoma' and 'Natchez'. The more
commonly planted L. indica varieties found in lower elevations
of the state will not reliably survive in the mountains.
the tree at least 10 feet from walls in well-drained soil and
full sun. They do not flower well in partial shade and not at
all in heavy shade. Powdery mildew can be a problem on the old
cultivars but many new cultivars are disease resistant.
the JC Raulston Arboretum (JCRA) at NC State University to see
two unique cultivars of the species Lagerstroemia fauriei:
'Townhouse' and 'Fantasy'. 'Townhouse' has dark mahogany-red bark
and profuse flowering during the summer. It is also noted for
its striking winter appearance. 'Fantasy' is named for its elegant
stature, beautiful rusty-red exfoliating bark and profuse display
of white flowers in the summer. Visit
the JCRA in person or at www.ncsu.edu/jcraulstonarboretum
to explore their impressive collection of crape myrtles.