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In the Garden

By BY CELESTE CASH - Second Nature Seed & Garden Texas A&M Horticulturist
June 20, 2012 at 1:20 a.m.

WOW! Let me say that again backwards, WOW! Have you seen the crape myrtles this year? If not, you must be driving around with your eyes closed.

Every year, there are a few plants in the landscape that are more outstanding than all the others. This is usually the result of environmental conditions that meet the desired needs of that specific plant. Obviously, the needs of the crape myrtle have been met this year. Everywhere you go in our area the crape myrtles are in full bloom and are prettier than anything else out there.

The small tree is a native of Asia and has been distributed throughout the world and does well to cold hardiness zone 7. The crape myrtle is a standard in the landscape throughout the southern United States as well along both the East and West Coasts. I can't imagine a landscape that is complete without at least some variety of crape myrtle.

The plant gets its common name from the flowers which have the crinkled appearance of crape paper. But the most desirable feature is the durability of this plant in the landscape. Almost anyone can grow this plant with minimal effort. Helping the plant to become established is the most difficult, although minimal soil preparation and watering is required. Once established, the plant thrives with only supplemental watering during exceptional periods of drought. Additional watering and fertilization will cause this plant to perform outrageously.

Because of its ease to grow, the plant is used extensively in commercial plantings. It is commonly used by highway departments and subdivision developments as well.

There is a crape myrtle that has been bred for almost any application as well. Dwarf crape myrtle varieties have been bred that will grow to only 3-4 feet in height. Larger, standard varieties grow to 30 feet, and any size imaginable can be found somewhere in between. The plant also comes in many colors and shades of color, so there has to be one that fits your need.

Garden Tips: We have been harvesting what looks like will be the last of the tomatoes and hopefully they will hold out a little while longer. The peas and the okra have been producing well. Anything that is finished for the year should be removed and cleaned up. After cleaning, apply a couple of inches of leaves to avoid having weeds in the fall when you get ready for the next garden..



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