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crape myrtle

Plant of the Day - Lagerstroemia 'Gamad V' (Dazzle Me Pink)

Masses of frothy pink flowers cover the plant like cotton candy. Few plants brighten the southern landscape like crepe myrtles.  Dwarf selections have become increasingly popular in recent years.  Like many groups of plants there are some good ones and some that should be tossed on the compost pile.  Lagerstroemia 'Gamad V', known by the terrible trade name Dazzle Me Pink, is one that I've been impressed with in recent years.  Flowers open with bubble-gum pink petals surrounding gold stamens before fading to near white.  It flowers heavily starting in mid-summer and will continue until fall especially if spent flowers are removed.  'Gamad V' forms a small shrub, 3'-4' tall by 4'-5' wide in 10 years.  The multi-stemmed shrub gets great fall color in vivid shades of orange and gold.  The mildew resistance is pretty good on this introduction if planted in a sunny spot with good air circulation.

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'Gamad V' makes a very uniform shrub, attractive in all seasons.

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Pic of the Day - Lagerstroemia fauriei 'Fantasy'

The bark of Lagerstroemia fauriei exfoliates in mid-summer to reveal smooth, cinnamon and orange bark beneath. Few trees at the JC Raulston Arboretum are as well known as our old Japanese crepe myrtles and mid-summer is the time to come see the outstanding bark.  In the mid 1950's, John Creech of the US National Arboretum traveled to Japan's Yakushima Island to collect seed.  He sent seedlings of Lagerstroemia fauriei to NC State University where 5 seedlings were planted on the site where the Arboretum now stands.  Three of these original plants still grow on the grounds (the other 2 were moved to a park in Charlotte, NC and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens).  J.C. Raulston noticed that 1 of the trees was an especially upright form with spectacular bark.  He named this plant 'Fantasy' and it has been a signature specimen at the Arboretum ever since.  In mid-summer the beautiful rich cinnamon brown bark exfoliates in sheets to reveal smooth orange, white, and pale cinnamon bark.  It is covered with white flowers in June and the foliage shows exceptional powdery mildew resistance.  Fall color is rich gold.  'Fantasy' grows much larger than the common crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) with showier bark but does not flower for nearly as long.  Japanese crepe myrtle was used at the National Arboretum to breed with the common crepe myrtle for disease resistance and a series of selections were released with Native American names (i.e. 'Natchez').

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The upright habit of 'Fantasy' makes it perfect for planting where it can be strolled beneath. - photo Christopher Glenn

Pic of the Day - Lagerstroemia indica 'Red Filli'

'Red Filli' makes a great flowering shrub. The late Fleming brothers had a serious case of zone denial - in the frozen tundra of Nebraska they bred hibiscus and crepe myrtles.  Their primary goal of course was increased hardiness.  This selection of crepe myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica 'Red Filli', is about as hardy as you can get in the genus.  Reports from up north say this plant is hardy as a die-back shrub to zone 4.  I'm betting that is with a whole lot of mulch.  We were also told that it would grow like a ground cover 18" tall by 36" or more wide.  It may grow like that in Nebraska but here in crepe myrtle country at the JC Raulston Arboretum, it is forming a small, multi-stemmed shrub.  In the 5 years we've been growing it, 'Red Filli' has become a 4' shrub that begins flowering early with big clusters of bright pink flowers.  The foliage is tinged purple and deepens to plum with red highlights in fall.  So far, it has been fairly mildew resistant.  It is exceptionally long blooming, starting as early as the beginning of June and lasting through September for a flower show that covers a full third of the year.  We're not sure quite how large it will ultimately grow for us, but if treated as a cut-back shrub it should stay in the 4' range although it will not flower until mid-July.  Full sun and average soil.

Follow me at @jcramark because life is too short for boring plants.

Although not really red, the bright pink flowers are showy.