Gardening Texoma: Crape Myrtles

Crape Myrtles by Barbara Grisham

Crape myrtles have long been a favorite of southerners and Sherman long ago had a nursery with growing fields in Pottsboro that still have old crape myrtles existing on the land. This nursery was known for Watermelon Red (aka Country Red) and a white variety. For too many years people chose only by color from a starter plant and then discovered it got too large for its space and then Crape Murder happened. Many landscapers are still choosing the wrong size plant and then hacking and producing ugly gnarly stubbed tops to view all winter.

As this poster from the Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney illustrates, there are too many right choices to make the wrong choice. They are available from 3 feet to 25 feet. The website has additional information that is very helpful. There are plantings of crape myrtles in medians all over the city. It is wise to choose a new plant when in bloom to be sure it is as tagged.

Through this organization and Neil Sperry’s vision there now exists the newly opened 7-acre World Collection Park of Crape Myrtles in Craig Ranch (6452 Collin McKinney Parkway). The display is divided into color rooms and shows 120 varieties with 10 more to be added as soon as the cuttings are large enough to plant.

And there’s even another great new resource—Texas A & M Earthkind Research Gardens---located in Myers Park in Northwest McKinney (7117 County Road 166). This center is under the direction of Dr. Greg Church with the Collin County Master Gardeners volunteer help. The new test garden for crape myrtles has been planted with 4 each of 25 varieties.

In addition there are test gardens for perennials and Kordez Roses. The German roses may prove to be as reliable as the now famous Earthkind Roses as they were produced without use of chemicals.

For more information showing lists of what is planted and when you can view the gardens go to their website

We can be grateful that we have all this knowledge available so near. Now, if someone can solve the problem of the sucker shoots at the base we really would have the perfect southern plant.

If you are watering your crape myrtles enough during this excessive heat and drought and still have brown edges on the leaves it could be damage from all the natural salts in the water resources in this area. The plants may not look as perfect but should be okay. A very inexpensive moisture reader probe could help you with determining what plants in general are getting enough water or not.

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