Jul 09 2012
Last weekend we visited my family in southeastern Virginia. Man, it was hot!! 80o at 7:00am, 102o in the afternoon. The weather looked great as long as you weren’t out in it. The only comfortable time outdoors was before 9:00am.
During one of my early morning forays I examined crepe myrtle flowers for the first time.
Crepe myrtle (also spelled crape myrtle and crapemyrtle) is a small ornamental tree or shrub from Asia and the Indian subcontinent whose flowers are crinkled like crêpe fabric. It blooms profusely in shades of pink or white throughout the summer. There are many Lagerstroemia species. The ones I examined were probably indica cultivars.
The flowers looked great all day despite the heat. What’s crepe myrtle’s secret? It loves full sun and heat — the more the better. The only thing it doesn’t like is prolonged frosty weather.
Crepe myrtle grows anywhere south of USDA zone 6 (in other words, zones 7 and higher). On the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness map, small parts of the Pittsburgh area inched into zone 7. Maybe by mid-century we’ll be growing crepe myrtle in Pittsburgh.
When that happens we’ll have to love heat, too.
(photo by Kate St. John)