Flower of the South



Driving around the last few weeks, I couldn't help but notice the explosion of color from the glorious Crape Myrtles.  They are literally in every nook and cranny whether it be an island in the Publix parking lot or growing wild along the highway.  I think the Crape Myrtle is sometimes taken for granted and overlooked.  All summer long they grace us with massive, colorful blooms yet we drive right by not even noticing their exotic display.

Although native to southeast Asia, Crape Myrtles were first introduced to South Carolina in the late 1700's by French botanist Andre Michaux.  Since then,  they have become known as "The Flower of the South."  They grow best in Zones 7-9 and prefer full sunlight and acidic soil.  You will see the Crape Myrtle display flowers in an array of colors such as white, lavender, bright pink, light pink and red.  After a long blooming season, they give a beautiful show of fall foliage and in winter, you get to fully appreciate their artistic multi-trunk form.  When the Crape Myrtle reaches full maturity she will surprise you again by shedding her bark to reveal beautiful shades of cream, tan, cinnamon and gray.

Now there's one topic that is common here in the South regarding Crape Myrtles and that is something many people refer to as "Crape Murder."  "Crape Murder," in simple terms, is the act of severely pruning the tree back to almost nothing in hopes to encourage larger blooms.  I'm here to tell you, step away from the pruning shears.  Let Miss Myrtle do her thing and she'll thank you in return with year-round interest and graceful, arching branches.  For more pruning tips and guided illustrations, visit Wilson Bros Nursery online.

I'm no garden expert, but anything (or anyone for that matter) that can look that gorgeous and effortless in the height of summer in the South gets a nod from me.  When all my annuals are dying off because I've missed a few days of watering, I gain a new appreciation for those blooms that make it look so effortless.  No wonder Miss Myrtle is affectionately referred to as "The Flower of the South."

Your Southern Peach

2 comments:

  1. We just planted two crape myrtles (Watermelon color flowers) in our front yard (full sun) to replace the two dogwood trees that passed away (RIP.) My girls love them and ask every evening to go water them (thank you, Sonny Purdue for relaxing the hand watering restrictions.) Even my oldest is pointing out all the crape myrtles we see.....so you can imagine that every two seconds as we drive around the north ATL suburbs, we hear, "Look at THAT crape myrtle!" And coming from a gardner....I second the motion that you should NEVER, EVER cut your myrtle back too severely!!! Please avoid crape murder - I beg everyone!

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  2. I didn't know you planted trees??? That is great. Your girls will definitely have green thumbs growing up with you.

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