(Crape Myrtle)

Depending on variety, crapes grow as large shrubs or as trees that may be either upright or spreading. The deciduous crape myrtle is among the longest blooming trees in existence with flowering periods lasting from 60-120 days. Crapes come in heights as short as 46 cm and as tall as 12 m. Leaves are alternate and smooth, but leaf size depends on variety. Flowers are borne in summer in big showy clusters and come in white and many shades of pink, purple, lavender and red. The fruits that follow are brown or black. Large varieties are very fast growing .Many types have interesting bark that exfoliates in thin flakes exposing lovely cinnamon or gray inner bark.

Crape myrtle likes moist soil, where it will grow exceedingly fast, but it tolerates dry conditions once established. Pruning is recommended only to remove overly dense branches and crossing limbs. Cutting off old flower heads in summer can promote a second and third round of flowering, though. Crape myrtles are a magnet for aphids.

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