Crepe Myrtle in Landscape Design

Crepe-Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle in Landscape Design

Crepe Myrtle is a great landscape design feature tree

Introduction: The crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) is a deciduous, evergreen, and one of the most beautiful flowering shrubs and trees native to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The Australian native crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia archeriana) is Native to the Kimberley, Cape York Peninsula and New Guinea.

Lagerstroemia archeriana
Lagerstroemia archeriana is native to Cape York and The Kimberly. (Photo credit – Friends of the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens )

 

Lagerstroemia archeriana
Lagerstroemia archeriana close up of flower. (Photo credit – Friends of the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens )

Lagerstroemia indica symbolizes love, beauty, longevity, and good fortune. It is a familiar emblem of marriage in many societies. Many cultures believe cultivating one will bring love and peace to your family.

 

Flowering Crepe Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica
Lagerstroemia indica can be planted as an individual feature tree or planted as a cluster.

Where do crepe myrtles grow best?

Favorable conditions to thrive: It is normally cultivated in warmer climates around the world. The trees need plenty of sun to thrive (six or more hours per day), so choose the right sunny spot for this tree. Flowers will not be as productive with minimum sunlight or a partially shady location, and their colour may be diminished. These trees are adaptable to most soil conditions except those that are wet. The well-drained soil affords a wealth of summer flowers and helps keep pests away. The ideal soil pH is neutral to slightly acidic. The best time to plant crepe myrtle is early spring.

Lagerstroemia indica as a street tree.
Lagerstroemia indica are also great street trees.

How big do crepe myrtles grow?

Description: These trees can grow up from 6 to 10 metres tall, but the dwarf and semi-dwarf varieties will grow between 2 to 6 metres tall. This makes the dwarf variety an ideal feature tree for the landscape design of smaller gardens. Crepe myrtle has dark green leaves with a reddish edge. In autumn, leaves change colour to red, yellow, or orange. The leaves are simple, oval in structure, and venation is pinnate. The bark is thin, light brown, and smooth.

Crepe myrtle normally grows at a medium to fast growth rate at about 30-60 cm per year. This means that they can also be used as a fast growing screening tree.

 

Lagerstroemia indica fruit and flowers
Lagerstroemia indica fruit and flowers

 

In the Summer and Autumn, peeling bark display patches of fresh bark in pink, cream, and orange shades. During the winter, branches become smooth, and their curved shape is seen. The branches create a pleasing shape.

 

Lagerstroemia indica or crepe myrtle
The morning sun lights up some crepe myrtle trunks. In the Summer and Autumn, peeling bark display patches of fresh bark in pink, cream, and orange shades.

 

The flowers of the crepe myrtle can be white, pink, lavender, or reddish. The initial flower appears in early June and continues to fall throughout the season.

Crepe Myrtle Flowers

Crepe Myrtle Flowers. As the flowers vanish, they are replaced with a brown capsule-like fruit that attracts birds and typically survives the winter.

Crepe myrtle fruit
Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) is multi-stemmed, deciduous tree with a wide spreading, flat topped, rounded, or even spike shaped open habit. Planted in full sun or under canopy, the tree is a popular nesting shrub for songbirds and wrens.

Caring for your Lagerstroemia Indica

A new  plant requires at least 25mm of rainfall per week. If you are in sandy soil or a very hot regions, water  twice a week. Water the new plant regularly for about two months. The mature crepe myrtle is drought resistant. However, if you want better flowers and healthier plants, then watering is better.

Arborist and horticulturists are divided about the pruning of crepe myrtle. However, pruning crepe myrtle in late winter is the probably the best option. Remove any branches that cross or crowd the centre, even those that are unhealthy or dead. Avoid excessive trimming since it has its own drawbacks. Severe pruning produces knobby growth that is more susceptible to disease. If you want a tree with a single trunk, remove any lateral branches that may compete with the leader. Trees having several trunks should be pruned to maintain their shape and avoid crowding or contacting one another.

Problems with Crepe myrtle

These are relatively robust, trouble-free trees that are resistant to most garden tree problems.  However, it might be susceptible to fungal diseases such as leaf spots and powdery mildew. These problems can easily be treated with organic pesticides. Additionally, many new cultivars are bred, resistant to this fungal disease. Look for hybrids between the L.indica and the L.fauriei species that are more resistant to fungal diseases.

 

Lagerstroemia Indica as a landscape design feature tree

The crepe myrtle is among the most beautiful and satisfactory plants. Its beautiful summer flowers, attractive bark and brilliant fall colour make them gorgeous and eye-catching. Due to these qualities, the crepe myrtle is widely used in gardens and landscapes. Here are some ideas for landscape design with this tree.

Crepe Myrtle
Crepe Myrtle as a design feature in a public park.

Use a single specimen as a focal point. Because many other flowering trees are simply green leaves, crepe myrtle makes a colourful centrepiece to the lawn throughout summer. They are beneficial for planting among smaller flowering shrubs since they will offer a mix of colours when flowers appear. Some of the larger varieties of crepe myrtle look wonderful when planted in sunny areas before a full-sized shade tree. Use dwarf varieties as a colourful addition to borders and beds. Plant medium-sized crepe myrtle together to form a deciduous hedge.

Crepe Myrtle varieties Australia

Some of the best varieties of a crepe myrtle in Australia are

  • Lagerstroemia indica Bayon “Marie”: 1m tall and 1m wide, has dark pink flowers.
  • Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei “Sioux”: 4 m tall and 3m wide with pink flowers and resistant to powdery mildew.
  • Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei “Lipan”: 4 m tall and 3 m wide with lavender flowers and orange autumn leaves.
  • “Natchez”: up to 8 m tall with white flowers.
  • Pixie white grows about two meters and is suitable for garden beds.

Other than that, there are wide varieties that like the Australian climate and grow quickly in Australia. Also, Lagerstroemia archeriana is the Australian native crepe myrtle with pink mauve flowers and grows up to 7 metres.

 

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Further Reading on Horticulture and Design with Lagerstroemia Varieties

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The Friends of the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens

 

Planning tips for inner city courtyard and small space gardens | Garden Design | Gardening Australia

 

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Hello, I’m Callum. A little bit about me? My passion ever since I was young is for the environment and the outdoor world we live in. Something we neglect in our concrete jungles and glass palaces. It’s this passion that’s been infused into every fibre of my company’s processes.

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