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Facts About Red Rocket Crepe Myrtle Plants

By Michelle Wishhart ; Updated September 21, 2017
Crape myrtle produces its best blooms in a full sun location.

Red Rocket crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica 'Whit IV') is a small, flowering tree with an upright, vase-shaped habit. Carl Whitcomb of Lacebark Inc., in Stillwater, Oklahoma, developed the plant. Red Rocket crape myrtle works well as a foundation tree, or as a specimen for a small, urban garden.

Appearance

Red Rocket crape myrtle is a spring and summer flowering tree growing between 15 to 20 feet tall with a similar spread. The moderately fast-growing tree flowers until fall, producing dense clusters of brilliant-red, papery flowers against green foliage. The foliage shifts from green to shades of orange, red or yellow in the autumn before dropping in the winter.

Location

Crape myrtle hails from China. These trees do best in temperate climates, thriving in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 6 to 9. Plant Red Rocket crape myrtle in a location with full sunlight and good air circulation. Trees grown in partial or full shade produce fewer flowers and are more likely to catch disease. The tree adapts well to tight, confined spaces and may be squeezed into a small corner of the garden near a patio or deck.

Soil

Crape myrtle does best in a soil that is slightly acidic, about pH 5.0 to 6.5. Although drought tolerant, crape myrtle requires regular irrigation until mature. Once the tree is about 2 years old, it requires supplemental watering only during heavy summer heat or extended periods of drought. Applying a light dose of balanced fertilizer during the spring and summer enhances flowering. Do not use a nitrogen-heavy fertilizer, as this promotes leaf growth, not flower growth.

Maintenance

Pruning as needed every year maintains a formal appearance. Over pruning can ruin the natural effect of the plant. Crape myrtle plants are highly susceptible to powdery mildew, a fungal disease resulting in a white, powdery mold on leaves and young shoots. Prevent the disease by planting crape myrtle in a bright, sunny area with air circulation. Mulch around tree to suppress weeds and retain moisture in the soil.

 

About the Author

 

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based in Portland, Ore. She has been writing professionally since 2005, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for City on a Hill Press, an alternative weekly newspaper in Santa Cruz, Calif. An avid gardener, Wishhart worked as a Wholesale Nursery Grower at Encinal Nursery for two years. Wishhart holds a Bachelor of Arts in fine arts and English literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz.