Friday, November 4, 2011

Crepe or Crape?

My beloved Crepe Myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica).... either way of spelling is ok. Crape is the Anglicized version of the French crêpe.   But when looking at the word Crape I can't help but see it without the 'e', therefore I prefer Crepe :-)

Crepe Myrtle flower

Crepe Myrtles are wonderful trees for the South. They are available  in different sizes, dwarf, medium and large, and in many colors, white, water melon, and all shades of pink.

Certain varieties are better suited for Florida. Pick one with a Native American Indian name like Natchez, Chickasaw,  or Seminole, just to name a few.

Natchez, my favorite

Crepe Myrtles are attractive all year round. All through summer the trees are dripping with blooms...

... and just look at that bark, this is pure art...

Cinnamon colored bark

... and in Fall the leaves change color to orange and red.

Fall color

Three more things I like about them:

  • Crepe Myrtles are deciduous, so living in Florida where the seasons aren't that strong pronounced, I see my Myrtles leafless in Winter.

  •  I collect the fallen leaves with a leaf vacuum (reverse setting on the leaf blower) and use those shredded leaves as mulch on the flower beds.

  • My tropical plants appreciate them as well, giving shade during the hot summer months and allowing the mild winter sun through to the soil.

the November look

Some tips:

  • Best planting time is in Fall and Winter when they are dormant.

  • After they are established Crepe Myrtle are quite drought tolerant.

  • Prune them in Winter, to shape and cut off crossing branches to avoid injury to the tree.

  • Don't do Crepe Murder! Sawing the tree branches down to stumps seems to be a practice done just in Florida. The tree loses its beautiful natural shape and you certainly won't see the cinnamon colored bark since the branches are gone :(


  1. Die Myrtle sind wunderschöne Baume

  2. I have 3 huge crepe myrtles in my yard and they do exactly the wonderful things you mentioned. Ten years ago I stopped cutting them back in the typical 'crepe murder' fashion and they have grown into beautiful trees. I wish mine were the watermelon color instead of pink but that's the only thing I would change about them!

  3. Genau, und deswegen hat Myrtle Glen auch 13 davon :-)

  4. your pinks are beautiful... don't you have room for one more in watermelon? :-)

  5. Oh my, your crepe myrtles are stunning. I've never considered having one of these in my garden but now ... well, I'll have to investigate how they do here. I think we have a similar climate to yours so I might just get one. The Natchez is outstanding!

  6. Thanks Christine, and I hope they will be suited for your garden :-)

  7. (yes Christine I have them in Porterville)

    Mine were inherited murdered, so I'm trying to gently prune them to a more appealing branch structure. The leaves stay quietly where they fall. We only run the chipper/shredder when we have a mound of tree prunings. That result goes back on the beds as mulch. Beautiful flaky bark, tho mine is not your delightful cinnamon.

  8. They are all my favorite. I like when they get big enough the bark exfoliates. I write it as Crape Myrtle.