Myrtle Tree Facts
The crape myrtle tree (Lagerstroemia indica) puts on a blossoming show that lasts up to 120 days. Flowers appear in the summer months in shades of pink, white, red, lavender and purple. The blossoms appear in profuse clumps that offer a striking display. Varieties of crape myrtle trees range in size from 18 inches to 40 feet in height.
The flowers of the crape myrtle appear to resemble the crinkly appearance of crepe material, but the correct spelling is regarded as "crape," according to Floridata. Flower clusters average 12 inches in length with a width of up to 5 inches. All flowers feature six petals and measure only 1 1/2 inches across within the cluster. Removing flower heads as they die will continue the tree's flower production.
Leaves appear opposite each other along the stems. Each leaf measures 4 inches long and 2 inches wide. When the leaves first appear, they are either yellow or bronze in color, depending on the variety, and then they slowly change to green. During the fall, the crape myrtle tree changes to shades of red, yellow and orange before dropping its leaves.
Following flowering, the crape myrtle tree produces tan or black fruit. Each pod contains six capsules. The capsules remain on the tree into the winter months. The fruit splits open and a disk shaped seed is released. Seeds easily germinate.
Around the base of the crape myrtle, suckers form from the tree's root system. To maintain the look of a tree instead of a multistemmed shrub, remove the suckers as they appear. Seeds also germinate below the tree. The seedlings are easily dug up and transplanted to new locations.
The crape myrtle flowers and grows best in full sunlight with moist soil. The tree flourishes in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 7 to 9. Newer cultivars available offer even better winter hardiness. Fertilize the tree lightly, because too much fertilizer tends to make the tree create only foliage with few flowers.
Aphids adore feeding on the sap of the crape myrtle. Large colonies accumulate along the trees stems and foliage. As the aphids feed, they secrete a honeydew substance that quickly grows unattractive black mold, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Hosing the crape myrtle off with water regularly controls the aphids and prevents the colonies from forming.