Few plants are as well known and loved as Crape Myrtle. Few plants are as varied in size and colors available as Crape Myrtle, and that makes them very versatile in the landscape. They bloom in summer when many plants have finished, and that can be a bonus if you want a long-blooming season.
This wonderful genus is available as miniatures, dwarfs, medium sizes and tree forms. Miniatures are only knee high with some rare tree forms reaching 100’ tall! They are native to India, Southeast Asia, Northern Australia and parts of Oceania. This plant does best in full sun with ample water, but can do well in half-day sun. Crape Myrtles will become drought tolerant as they mature. Almost all species are cold hardy in zones 6-9, so that means that they do well in our area. In areas of high humidity, they are susceptible to powdery mildew — but with our low humidity, that is usually not a problem. In summer, aphids can attack and leave “honeydew” (a sticky substance) on the leaves, but for the most part they are trouble free.
Following is a list of available species that do well in our high desert environment.
Petite Orchid: 5’ tall with orchid blooms
Petite Snow: 5’ tall with white blooms
Purple Cow: 6’ tall with dark purple blooms
Catawba: 6’ dark with purple blooms
Cherokee Red: 15’ with bright red blooms
Dynamite: 20’ tall with dark red blooms
Muskogee: 25’ tall with lavender blooms
Natchez: 25’ tall with white blooms
Watermelon Red: 20’ tall with bright red blooms
These are the maximum heights listed, according to the internet. Of course, we live in the desert and you will be very unlikely to grow Crape Myrtles to the listed sizes. Figure 75 percent of these listed heights, and that would probably be more accurate.
Crape Myrtles are a “must have” plant for our high desert. Plant and enjoy!
Mike Dooley is the designer and owner of Dooley Landscape Designs. Visit his website at www.dooleylandscapedesigns.com. He can be reached at 505-400-0257.