August 25, 2010

A Delicious Crepe Myrtle

Crepe myrtle 'White Chocolate'
in August 2010
A scorching summer doesn't deter the blooms of crepe myrtle, a "go-to" tree for southern gardeners. There are three varieties of crepe (crape) myrtle in my garden, but 'White Chocolate' is my favorite for mixing with perennials.

I stumbled upon this unusual variety in 2006. This year, the blooms are fabulous and have been going strong for a month.

'White Chocolate' is a cultivar selected by Dr. Michael Dirr, University of Georgia, Athens. Rated for zones 7-9, this is a moderate grower to 8 feet high and wide.

Although 'White Chocolate' is a difficult crepe myrtle cultivar to find, it is listed with Monrovia. (Their website allows you to search for garden centers in your area that carry their brand.)

Once established, this tree is drought-tolerant. It is also deer resistant. Japanese Beetles will chew on any crepe myrtle, but the damage is less as the trees grow larger.

The dark burgundy foliage of 'White Chocolate' is especially beautiful when it first emerges in the spring. As the season progresses, it is more bronze-burgundy, but never fades in the strong sunlight. The autumn color is brilliant and in winter, the bark is interesting. The summer blooms are white, but the burgundy and pink tones make it a good color to use with pink or blue blooms of perennials such as agastache, nepeta, echinops and caryopteris.

I shape 'White Chocolate' like a shrub instead of a tree, but pruning must be done with careful consideration—as with all crepe myrtles, you take responsibility when you grow one of these lovely trees, so please don't commit crepe murder!

Crepe myrtle 'White Chocolate'
behind agastache 'Salmon & Pink'

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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