Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Red flowered crape/crepe myrtle, Lagerstroemia

We bought this crape myrtle last year as a tiny foot tall plant that was already blooming with startling red flowers with a few pink and almost white ones mixed in. We planted it in a fairly sheltered site and hoped it would survive the winter which it did with remarkable vigor. It grew a lot this year and the plant now stands 5 feet high. When our other pink flowered crape myrtle budded and bloomed in early summer, this one was still growing with no sign of any buds so I thought it wouldn't bloom this year but I was wrong. It's just starting to come into full flower now and it looks very good. I believe this was a 'Red Rocket' but I'm not certain. This was an excellent purchase.

Here's more information about red crape myrtles from the University of Florida site.

"The Story of Red Crape Myrtles

Wild crape myrtles from Southeast Asia have flower colors ranging from white to pale lavender to watermelon-pink. Gardeners have long sought crape myrtles with clearer and more intense flower colors, but true red flowers have always been elusive. Finally in 1997, after years of intense breeding, Dr. Carl Whitcomb introduced Dynamite®, the first crape myrtle with true red flowers.

Dynamite® was widely acclaimed for its red flowers and became hugely popular, inspiring searches for more red-flowered crape myrtles. Dr. Whitcomb continued his breeding and later introduced Red Rocket®, Tightwad Red® and Siren Red®, each maturing at a different size than Dynamite®.

The U.S. National Arboretum also has an important Lagerstroemia breeding program and recently released red-flowered Arapaho and Cheyenne. A few older selections have long been recognized for their good red flower color, but they never achieved the acclaim and notoriety of these later, improved selections. Thanks to the popularity of Dynamite®, red crape myrtles--new and old--are now very popular and widely available."

And here's the link if you'd like to read and see more red flowering crape myrtles.


Blogger Nicole said...

Oh wow, what a gorgeous red flower! I have a lavender crape myrtle, from cuttings a friend gave me last year, but I definitely want this one! Good purchase, indeed.

5:51 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Nicole,
I remember growing crape myrtle in Hawaii but it never amounted to much in the tropical heat and no dormancy. Does your lavender cm bloom well?

If I could have only one crape myrtle this would be it. It has dark stems and dark green leaves as well as the brilliant flowers. And best of all it blooms when all the nasty Japanese beetles are gone! Thanks for stopping by.

P.S. I saw the same plant from the Biltmore conservatory on your blog so I used the name, Crown of thorns for the picture caption. Hope you don't mind.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Lovely, Ki. 90-some odd billion or no, I say the Vanderbilt's garden has nothing on yours when this guy's in bloom.

(I have serious crepe myrtle envy.)

6:55 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

You know Kim, this one was so vigorous and hardy I wonder if it wouldn't grow in a sheltered spot in your garden? It displayed none of the freeze burn our pink cm usually displays every year. The pink one is in a more exposed spot but only about 25 feet from this one. It would be pushing it but worth a try. I've planted zone 7 plants in zone 6 so maybe you could do it if you identify a microclime then no more envy! ;) Wouldn't it be nice to have a plant no one else has in your area? Thanks for stopping by.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Ki, my lavender crape myrtle is from the West Indies, so it grows and flowers well here. I guess the trick is to get the native varieties. My friend has a whole hedge made of it, and it flowers constantly. I'd get more cuttings, but she lives in a different island...
Of course I don't mind, my blog is not commercial, in any event I upload many of my plant pictures to Wikipedia image commons, so that people are free to use them esp for educational purposes, the only exceptions are pics with people or pics by other people.

5:12 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Nicole, I attributed the name of the 'crown of thorns' to you and your blog. Thanks for the ID. Interesting that you upload photos to Wikipedia.

I guess you can always take cuttings from your own crape myrtle. We just cut off a whole bunch of branches/suckers from the pink flowering cm but didn't think to root them. I'll have to remember that I can root cuttings if we need to trim the 'Red Rocket'. I wonder if you can propagate registered plants? I know its illegal to propagate trade marked ones.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Ki, one of the local nurseries sell them... if I could count on it to die back to the ground, I might have a spot for it. If it would decide to get as large and crazy as it could, though, I'd be in trouble. :)

6:08 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Kim, our pink one did die back to the ground in the first two years after we planted it but it's gotten steadily stronger and more cold tolerant. Only the tender tips get frost burns now. If you have room for a small tree you could train it to become one. But in your neck of the woods it would probably die back each year.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Digital Flower Pictures said...

I am sooooooo jealous. I saw a couple of these over on Staten Island and they just floored me. I have seen Dynamite before but think this looks a little more intense. I have pretty much given up on CM cultivation in my area of Connecticut (it does grow along the shore) although there are a few oddballs left in the garden. It is too heartbreaking. I wouldn't think they will make it in Ohio but you never know. I think the 'Indian Tribe' cultivars from the Us National Arboretum are the hardiest.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Chris,
They were selling these as a very small plant so I thought it would be a nice small shrub but not so. I planted it in a place where it has room to grow so it's not a problem but I didn't expect it to grow so vigorously. I do like the intense red and the few pinkish white flowers only add to the beauty. I do notice that the red turns to a more maroonish colder color when it get older which isn't bad but I would rather have it keep the warmer tones. I'm sure the propagators will probably come up with many more colors in the future. I'd like to see a bright orange or even a yellow one.

When we first planted our pink cm it died back to the ground the first two winters so I was about to dig it up but it became hardier as it grew bigger. But I know the heartbreaking feeling when you have to cut back all the dead growth.

Interestingly, as I wrote before, they are very commonly planted in NC and grow like trees but I didn't see any of the reds. Just the common pink, lavender and white ones.

4:36 AM  
Blogger lisa said...

Wow is that pretty! No way could I winter one over in my zone 4, but I'm trying my luck with flowering quince, so hopefully I get berries and decent flowers.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Lisa,
I'm afraid no crape myrtle for you. ;( It's pushing it for flowering quince too. Someone in Minn. wanted to grow quince but got no replies from people in zone 4 who had any luck growing them. I guess if you found a really sheltered place in your yard probably against your house so it could receive some warmth, mulched it heavily and wrapped some burlap around it during winter you may have a chance. I hope you are successful.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Ki... you're such an enabler! :)

6:29 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

I'm bad Kim. Only because I do it to myself too by planting things way out of my zone of hardiness. I have second thoughts about doing this now. Making the plant suffer because of my ego or satisfaction. This is something I'll have to wrestle with. :(

5:22 AM  

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