I live 20 miles north of Lexington and would like plant some crape myrtles next spring. I prefer the red colors. What variants and what time in spring would you recommend for me to plant?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Ken: Crape Myrtles are a staple in any sun-loving, southern garden. Some are more-cold hardy than others, so it is important to purchase specific varieties that will do well in our USDA hardiness zone (6). The U.S. National Arboretum has a breeding program that has introduced cultivars that are more-cold hardy. Lagerstroemia and its’ many cultivars are You were smart to wait until next spring to plant. It is best to give them as much time as possible to establish their roots before winter arrives. Crape Myrtles are available a wide range of sizes and flower color. Since you know you want a red blooms, the next decision is the mature size. Crape Myrtles are available in semi-dwarf (5’-12’),intermediate (3’-12’) and larger tree-types (23-33’). The following are named cultivars that produce red flowers and are hardy to USDA hardiness zone 6.
Dynamite is probably the most common red bloomer. It produces cherry red flowers and will reach 15-20 tall at maturity. Arapahoe is a newer introduction reaching 20’ tall with wine red blooms. Enduring Summer is a smaller red bloomer reaching 5’ tall at maturity. Cherokee matures around 8’ feet tall and produces deep red flowers. Red Rocket will mature at 15-20’ tall and produces ruby red flowers. This would be a good time to contact local garden centers to see what cultivars they carry and this may help narrow down your choices. This would also be a good time to have your soil tested to make sure that your future plantings will have adequate nutrients. This can be done through your County Cooperative Extension Service for a small fee. The results will give specific recommendations in terms of improvement if necessary. I hope this is helpful.
Kentucky Living-Ask the Gardener