Crepe myrtles do something that few other blossoming trees do – they bloom in high summer. Native to southern and eastern Asia, they grow well in most parts of Australia, producing fabulous crepe-like flower heads in shades of pink, red, mauve, purple and white, through January and February. They also have lots to offer through the other seasons of the year, with brilliant foliage colour in autumn and attractive smooth bark when they’re leafless in winter, which creates an elegant silhouette in the garden landscape.
Lots to Offer
Crepe myrtles make ideal feature trees for home gardens, because they’re compact in size, and respond well to pruning. There are also dwarf forms available, which are more shrub-like in habit, and are suitable for growing in large tubs. In recent years, the Indian Summer range of crepe myrtles has been released, offering a fabulous range of brilliant colours and excellent resistance to powdery mildew disease, which can effect some of the older varieties during humid summer weather. Each cultivar in the Indian Summer range is named after an Indian tribe, and the trees range is size from a compact 3 metres, up to about 6 metres in height. All crepe myrtles need to be grown in an open sunny position, and young trees should be watered generously through summer. Because of their compact size, they make very good street trees.
Trim to shape
Crepe myrtles respond well to pruning, which is best done in mid-winter, when trees are bare of leaves. To keep them compact, trim back branches by about 30cm all over. If you wish, you can cut them back much harder than this – they’ll send out long arching branches from the site of the cut when spring arrives. However, if you’re not into pruning, and you have enough space for them to develop their naturally appealing shape, just leave them alone – they’ll flower well in any case.