August 9, 2022


Taste the Home & Environment

Dwarf crape myrtles best for North Texas landscapes

Petite crape myrtles make a great replacement for Knock Out roses that are susceptible to disease.

Petite crape myrtles make a terrific substitute for Knock Out roses that are susceptible to condition.

Specific to the Star-Telegram

Our next son is about to change 48. I was performing for Texas A&M and the Extension Service when he was born. It was a great money with very good gains, but I felt the require to health supplement things by growing nursery stock on our driveway in Farmers Department. Immediately after all, I’d gotten two higher education degrees aiming me at turning into a environment-course nursery producer. Undoubtedly I’d ultimately get all-around to that.

Perfectly, the prepare of possessing my own nursery type of went by the boards when I started out composing for the Star Telegram and doing work in radio, but my love for people crops I’d been growing has in no way waned.

The crops I’d been increasing have been dwarf crape myrtles — the Petite collection. I experienced acquired what nurseries call “liners.” They ended up 31/2-inch pots that I straight away shifted up into 1-gallon pots. I bought the 300 vegetation significantly less than a calendar year later and set that cash toward Todd’s start (good expense).

Out of that knowledge I truly acquired to take pleasure in individuals little crape myrtles. They experienced been patented and introduced by the incredibly big wholesaler Monrovia Nursery in California in 1961. Aspect notice: In accordance to the United States National Arboretum, they have been truly hybridized by Otto Spring from Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Monrovia acquired the legal rights to them and put a large push on them. I remember poring over them in the Monrovia catalog as a teen in College Station.

The Petite sequence consists of versions Petite Purple Enhanced, Petite Embers (rose-purple), Petite Plum (purple), Petite Orchid (dim orchid), Petite Pinkie and Petite Snow. They all expand to experienced heights and widths of 42 to 48 inches with tiny leaves on densely branching crops. Like most crape myrtles, they start blooming by early June and it’s not unusual for them to have 3 or 4 flushes of flowers by the time they shut up shop in mid-September. There aren’t quite a few flowering shrubs that give you that substantially exhibit per square foot.

So, that was the early 1960s when all those arrived into the market. I graduated from significant college and started off higher education at Texas A&M. As a junior I transferred to Ohio Point out to finish my undergraduate and Masters degrees. In that Masters diploma study I was functioning together with a further horticulturist by the identify of Michael Dirr.

Mike was (and continue to is) a outstanding plant male of worldwide fame. He went on to get his PhD in plant physiology and finished up as the top particular person at the University of Georgia Arboretum.

Dirr, a indigenous of the northern U.S., developed a fondness for crape myrtles once he moved to the South. His breeding work led to the introduction of a different significant team of dwarf kinds acknowledged as the Razzle Dazzle sequence. 4 are really well-liked in the nursery trade: Cherry Dazzle, Dazzle Me Pink, Berry Dazzle (fuchsia colour) and Diamond Dazzle (white).

The Dazzle crape myrtles improve to mature heights and widths of 4 to 5 ft. As with all crape myrtles, they call for whole or just about whole sunlight. They do ideal when offered very natural and organic soils and when retained moist at all periods. They need to be fertilized as their new leaves are emerging in late March or April, again in mid-May possibly and all over again following the to start with spherical of blooms. They bloom on new progress so you are going to want to use the identical variety of fertilizer you would utilize to your turfgrass, earning certain that it has no weedkiller involved.

There are other dwarf crape myrtles in the marketplace and I’m sure all would be effectively suited to North Central Texas. Even so, I do not suggest the “miniature, weeping” options with the names reminiscent of Southern Louisiana (Lafayette, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Delta Blush, etc.) for use in landscape plantings north of the Gulf Coast. These are promoted as expanding only to 18 to 24 inches tall and 24 to 30 inches huge. They produce mounding routines of advancement. They are good in patio pots and hanging baskets, but my ordeals escalating them in the ground in the Metroplex has been that they’re not in a position to survive even common North Texas winters.

There is one particular particular position that dwarf crape myrtles present amazing assist, and that is as a alternative for Knock Out® roses that have succumbed to the incurable (at the very least for now) rose rosette virus. That sickness has so ravaged rose plantings that individuals have turn into extremely discouraged. There will eventually be a get the job done-all over identified, but we’re not there yet with roses. In the meantime, dwarf crape myrtles can come to the rescue.

It took me numerous yrs to firm up that suggestion, but when I saw a mattress of dwarf crape myrtles blooming for the second time a single July, I realized they would be a good substitute. Right here was my reasoning:

Equally crops bloom for quite a few months. Roses are spring and fall, though crape myrtles are numerous times above the system of the summertime.

Crape myrtles are deciduous. Roses are almost so. That implies that you would not want to mature either plant straight versus the entrance of your household. They will need to be planted in entrance of an evergreen shrub so they can “disappear” when they are dormant.

They both equally occur in a selection of colors. Granted, you will not get yellow or orange crape myrtles, but you will get around it.

Admitted, roses are fragrant, but crape myrtles don’t get rose rosette virus (or black spot). Crape myrtles appeal to aphids (so do roses). These dwarfs hardly ever draw in crape myrtle bark scale.

Crape myrtles are even additional tolerant of sizzling, dry climate than roses.

Isn’t it time you carved out a location for these tiny beauties!

You can listen to Neil Sperry on KLIF 570AM on Saturday afternoons 1-3 p.m. and on WBAP 820AM Sunday mornings 8-10 a.m. Join him at and comply with him on Facebook.

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