Crape Myrtles in Western Oregon

By: Paul Bonine

Xera Plants

Paul Bonine is a garden writer, lecturer, and owner of the wholesale specialty plant nursery Xera Plants, in Portland, Oregon….

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As a companion to the article by Paul Bonine in the July 2010 issue of Pacific Horticulture, we offer his review of National Arboretum crape myrtle introductions.

Selected National Arboretum Crape Myrtle Introductions and Their Performance in Western Oregon:

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Acoma’
A small tree with a pendulous habit to fourteen feet tall. Bark is a glossy taupe. Flowers are pure white and abundant, appearing as early as the first part of August, in favorable locations and continuing to late September. Fall color is red to yellow. Readily available at most large nurseries, and resistant to powdery mildew.

Lagerstroemia x ‘Arapaho’
A fast-growing, upright cultivar to twenty feet, with a pronounced vase shape. Released in 2003, this is the first triple hybrid crape myrtle to come from the National Arboretum’s breeding program. Spectacular deep cranberry red floral trusses are borne from late August through September. Bark is rough and mottled tan, but not as showy as others. Fall color is deep maroon. Our experience has shown it can be slightly tender to winter cold, with some dieback of the youngest growth; it appears to not stop growing in time to establish dormancy. It requires a hot location to thrive, with little water once it begins to bloom. Slowly becoming available in nurseries. We have grown and observed this cultivar since 2004, and have found it resistant to powdery mildew.

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Biloxi’
A tall, nearly fastigate cultivar to thirty feet. Pale pink flowers are borne in September, if at all. Bark is a spectacular glossy deep brown. Fall color is maroon and orange. Rare in commerce, but resistant to powdery mildew.

Lagerstroemia indica ‘Cawtaba’
Profuse violet purple flowers appear relatively early, usually in August, on this twelve-foot-tall spreading tree. Trunk and stems are sinuous and light tan. Fall color is a bright orange and red. One of the most prolific and dependable bloomers in western Oregon, though flowers fade somewhat after opening. It has a slight susceptibility to powdery mildew where air circulation is poor. Readily available at larger nurseries.

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Lipan’
A medium-growing tree to twenty feet tall, with smooth tan to off-white exfoliating bark. In favorable conditions, it begins producing large trusses of lavender flowers in early August. Fall color is yellow orange. Rare in commerce, it has shown good resistance to powdery mildew.

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Miami’
Spectacular for its dramatic glossy bark that sheds to a mottled green before settling to orange. Dark pink flowers are large and appear from mid-August through September. Fall color is a consistent orange. To twenty feet tall with a vase shape in time. Rare in commerce, but with good resistance to powdery mildew.

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Muskogee’
A large tree with a spreading crown to nearly thirty feet tall and as wide. Large and profuse trusses of lavender tinted pink flowers appear as early as mid-July, in favorable conditions. Fall color is a spectacular mix of yellows, oranges, and reds-rivaling the showiest autumn trees. The bark is taupe and tan. Fairly available in commerce, and resistant to powdery mildew.

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Natchez’
A gem of a tree and deservedly popular, it develops an umbrella shape to twenty-five feet tall and nearly as wide in time. The bark is a spectacular mottled combination of deep rust orange with patches of taupe. Large pure white flowers-the earliest of all cultivars in our region-often appear as early as mid-July, continuing through September. Fall color is bright red to yellow. An ideal candidate for a street tree. Becoming more available in commerce. Best with regular irrigation. Good resistance to powdery mildew. One of the best locations to view a mature specimen of this tree is in Portland’s Classical Chinese Garden.

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Pecos’
The most commonly sold and grown crape myrtle, and extremely well adapted to our region. Low heat requirements for flowering; under favorable circumstances, it will bloom as early as mid-July, with dark clear pink flowers. ‘Pecos’ requires more water than most to flower well. Bark is a smooth and dramatic cinnamon red. Effective trained as a standard, it forms a broad vase-shaped shrub to twelve feet tall (eighteen feet tall as a standard). Fall color is deep maroon. Readily available in commerce, and resistant to powdery mildew.

Lagerstroemia indica ‘Seminole’
An old cultivar with dark pink flowers and brown exfoliating bark. To twelve feet tall, it has red orange fall color. In western Oregon, flowering usually begins in early September. Readily available in commerce, it shows fair resistance to powdery mildew.

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Sioux’
Exhilarating pink flowers appear late on this fifteen-foot-tall, narrowly upright cultivar. Requires a lot of heat to flower well; flowers often wait until mid-September to open. Deep red fall color. Not well adapted to western Oregon, preferring warmer summer temperatures and, thus, rare in commerce. Good resistance to powdery mildew.

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Tonto’
One of the most vivid flower colors of all crape myrtles, being a hot fuchsia pink. To twelve feet tall with light tan bark. Fall color is consistently red orange. Flowering begins in late August and continues through September. Often available at larger nurseries. Susceptible to light powdery mildew in less than optimal conditions (poor air circulation).

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Tuscarora’
Deservedly popular, this is one of the best large crape myrtles for our climate. Enormous dark coral pink flower trusses appear from late August through September. Bark exfoliates to a smooth champagne pink. Fall color is consistently bright orange, red, and yellow. Upright growing to twenty feet tall, in time assuming the shape of a hot air balloon. Flowers better with regular water during summer. Commonly available at larger nurseries, and resistant to powdery mildew. A large and mature specimen of ‘Tuscarora’ can be seen at Portland’s Classical Chinese Garden.

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Yuma’
Large, nearly double-flowered trusses of lavender flowers give this heavy-blooming small tree a full look. Sinuous trunks are silver and gray when they exfoliate in summer. Flowering is best in the hottest locations, such as on the south side of a building. It begins to flower in mid-August, in optimal conditions, and continues through September. Fall color is yellow with tints of orange. Resistant to powdery mildew.

Lagerstroemia x fauriei ‘Zuni’
The most common, light purple flowered selection now being sold and grown in western Oregon. A small tree to sixteen feet tall, with an upright, angular habit eventually spreading at the crown. In favorable conditions, it may begin flowering as early as late July. Notable for its vigorous and prolonged period of vivid orange and red fall color. Bark is not as showy as other varieties, peeling to a powdery light tan. Readily available in commerce, but susceptible to powdery mildew in overly shaded situations.


Nursery Sources

We also offer the following guide to nurseries in Oregon and elsewhere in the West that offer crape myrtles, especially the hybrid selections (Lagerstroemia x fauriei) that have proven so successful in regions of the West previously thought unsuitable for these beautiful trees. Be sure to contact any nursery listed before visiting to confirm the availability of crape myrtles.

Amber Hill Nursery
11998 S Criteser Rd.
Oregon City, OR 97045
Walk-in only

Cistus Nursery
227211 NW Gillihan Road
Portland (Sauvie Island), OR 97231

Online catalog and walk-in

Colvos Creek Nursery
24029 59th Ave SW
Vashon, WA 98070
206/749-9508 (mail order)
Online catalog, walk-in, and mail order

Dancing Oaks Nursery
17900 Priem Road
Monmouth, OR 97361

Online catalog and walk-in

Flat Creek Garden Center
30039 SE Orient DR
Gresham, OR 97080
Walk-in only

990 Tetherow Road
Williams, OR 97544

Online catalog, mail order

Garden Fever!
3433 NE 24th Ave
Portland, OR 97212
Walk-in only

High Ranch Nursery
3800 Del Mar Avenue
Loomis, CA 95650-1410

Online catalog and wholesale only

Portland Nursery
9000 SE Division St.
Portland, OR 97266
5050 SE Stark St.
Portland, OR 97215

Walk-in only

Whitman Farms
3995 Gibson Road NW
Salem, OR 97304

Online catalog and mail order

Xera Plants
Sherwood, OR

Online catalog, wholesale only

Please be sure to mention Pacific Horticulture when contacting any of these vendors.

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