Flowering Plants of the Myrtle Family

The myrtle family (Myrtaceae) consists of trees and shrubs that originated from Australia and includes approximately 140 genera and 3,000 species. In general, it prefers the tropics, subtropics and temperate climates; however, some of its species can survive in other types of climates that aren't tropical or temperate. Myrtle trees are a favorite addition in a garden because they grow fast and produce flowers in various colors that add visual appeal to any type of landscape design.

Crape Myrtle

Of all the myrtle trees, crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) are the most popular because they bloom for a long period. Used in most residential, urban and rural gardens, crape myrtles are drought-tolerant. They grow in any types of soil as long as they drain well. Crape myrtles vary in sizes ranging from small (dwarfs) to medium. Dwarf types grow less than 4 feet tall after five years while medium crape myrtles can grow more than 20 feet tall after 10 years. Choose from a long and ever-growing list of crape myrtle cultivars to add to your garden with flower colors of white and various shades of pink, purple, lavender and red that bloom from 75 to 110 days in summer and fall. In the winter, crape myrtles may lose their leaves, but they still look attractive because of their interesting peeling barks with colors ranging from gray, white, pale cream, rust, bright orange to cinnamon brown underbark. Some of the popular crape myrtles are 'Natchez' and 'Muskogee'. Both varieties grow up to 20 feet tall with a spread of up to 20 feet. 'Natchez' is famous for its white flowers while 'Muskogee' has lavender flowers. These two varieties thrive best in USDA Hardiness Zones 6 to 9. If you prefer a more compact, semi-dwarf variety, choose 'Tonto'. It thrives best in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 9, grows up to 10 feet tall, has a spread of 8 feet wide and produces large, deep pink (watermelon-red) flower clusters for up to 100 days during summer. Crape myrtles need little water, moderate fertilization and annual pruning to keep them healthy and looking attractive.

Peppermint Tree

Peppermint tree (Agonis flexuosa) grows up to 40 feet high with a spread of up to 30 feet wide. An evergreen tree that has delicate, weeping branches and has clusters of small, five-petaled, fragrant, white flowers, peppermint tree thrives best in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 to 11. It prefers sandy or clay loam, normal to moist soil and full to partial sun. It has fibrous brown bark and long, narrow, dull green leaves. Peppermint tree looks similar to a weeping willow from a distance and is identifiable by its powerful peppermint smell that comes from the leaves.

Lemon Scented Gum

Lemon scented gum (Eucalyptus citriodora) is an evergreen tree that grows up to 100 feet in nature and forms two leaves--juvenile and adult. These two sets of leaves produce a strong lemony scent and yield lemon-scented oil (Citonellal) used in perfumes. Lemon scented gum thrives best in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11 and blooms in winter to early spring with flowers of white that are not very distinctive. Woody, urn-shaped capsule appear after the flowers. This tree needs full sun, grows in any types of soil as long as well-drained. It does not require fertilizing. Avoid exposing to temperatures below 50 degrees F.

Keywords: crape myrtle, myrtle flowering trees, peppermint trees, lemon scented gum, tropical flowering trees, Myrtaceae

About this Author

Josie Borlongan is a full-time IT Manager and a writer. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in medical technology from Saint Louis University, Philippines. Borlongan writes for eHow, Garden Guides, Business.com, OnTarget.com and ModernMom.com. She is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and a Cisco Certified Network Associate.