By: Bin Wu, Runshi Xie, and Mengmeng Gu
At least 50 new crapemyrtle cultivars have entered the market in the past 20 years, offering varied heights, shapes, flowering periods, and bloom and leaf colors for home and commercial landscapes.
Crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia spp.) have been planted throughout the southeastern United States for many years, dating back to the 1790s. They have become a staple in landscapes in the South, and their popularity continues to spread with the introduction of earlier-blooming and cold-hardy cultivars.
The annual wholesale value of crapemyrtles sold in the United States almost doubled from 1998 to 2014, when it reached $67 million; the number of plants sold during that period rose from less than 2 million to almost 5 million plants (Fig. 1).
Beginning on the next page is a list of the crapemyrtle cultivars that were introduced from 1998 to 2018. The list may not include all of the cultivars now on the market, as breeders are continually introducing new ones. Photos of the cultivars, if available, are at the end of this publication.
- ‘Red Rooster’ (brilliant red)
- ‘Pink Pig’ (pink)
- ‘Purple Cow’ (deep purple)
The Barnyard series of crapemyrtles was developed Michael A. Dirr at the University of Georgia:
- ‘Pink Pig’ is a traditional pink-flowering crapemyrtle that averages 6 to 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide. According to promotional materials, this cultivar “squeals with delight.”
- ‘Purple Cow’ bears deep purple flowers, grows to the same size as ‘Pink Pig,’ and helps create an “udderly majestic garden.”
- ‘Red Rooster’ is a mid-size (8 to 10 feet tall, 5 feet wide) upright plant with brilliant red blooms and is “something to crow about.” https://gardenersconfidence.com
- ‘Delta Breeze’ (light lavender)
- ‘Delta Eclipse’ (lavender)
- ‘Delta Flame’ (red)
- ‘Delta Fuchsia’ (fuchsia)
- ‘Delta Fusion’ (hot pink)
- ‘Delta Moonlight’ (white)
Plants in the Delta Series have burgundy leaves. ‘Delta Jazz’ (also called Chocolate Mocha) was the first cultivar released in the Delta series. Powdery mildew has appeared on ‘Delta Jazz’, but the susceptibility of the other cultivars to this disease needs to be evaluated.
Although these cultivars are heavy bloomers, they do not produce as many seedpods as some of the other new cultivars.
The trees in Delta series reach about 8 to 10 feet tall and have an egg-shaped canopy. Some foliage shows shades of green, but overall it retains its burgundy color from leafing out in the spring until the first killing frost.
This group of crapemyrtles originated at Mississippi State University and was developed by Plant Development Services, Inc./Southern Living Plant Collection. http://southernlivingplants.com/the-collection/
Early Bird Series
- ‘Early Bird Lavender’ (soft lavender)
- ‘Early Bird Purple’ (bright purple)
- ‘Early Bird White’ (pure white)
The crapemyrtles in the Early Bird Series are very early bloomers—starting at about 3 to 4 weeks (early April vs. mid-May) before other varieties. They are dwarfs and about 4 to 5 feet tall.
Heavy bloom set lasts for about 60 to 70 days during the first flowering. A secondary bloom appears later in the summer and lasts for about 30 days.
Disease problems in this group of plants include Cercospora and bacterial leaf spots.
John Davy developed the Early Bird Series in Florida. http://southernlivingplants.com/the-collection/
Ebony Series (Black Diamond)
Five initial cultivars:
- ‘Black Diamond Best Red’ (Ebony Flame, red)
- ‘Black Diamond Blush’ (Ebony Glow, light pink flowers on the darker foliage)
- ‘Black Diamond Crimson Red’ (Ebony Fire, red)
- ‘Black Diamond Pure White’ (Ebony and Ivory, white)
- ‘Black Diamond Red Hot’ (Ebony Embers, red)
Four additional cultivars:
- ‘Lavender Lace’ (soft lavender)
- ‘Mystic Magenta’ (magenta-pink)
- ‘Purely Purple’ (royal purple)
- ‘Shell Pink’ (coral pink)
The introduction of the Ebony/Black Diamonds series marked the debut of black and burgundy foliage in the crapemyrtle market. These cultivars have the darkest foliage of all crapemyrtle cultivars in the industry. They grow to about 8 to 10 feet tall.
Because the flowers of the three red cultivars have a similar color, it may be difficult to differentiate among ‘Flame’/ ‘Best Red’, ‘Embers’/ ‘Red Hot’, and ‘Fire’/ ‘Crimson Red’.
‘Ebony Rose’ is not under the Black Diamond trademark name. It has pink flowers and black foliage. All six ‘Ebony’ cultivars are available from the Garden Debut program of Greenleaf Nursery. They were developed and released by Cecil Pounders at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Poplarville, Mississippi.
Five of those—along with four additional cultivars—are sold under the Black Diamond trademark from the J. Berry Nursery in Grand Saline, Texas, and its licensed growers. http://www.gardendebut.com https://www.jberrynursery.com/
Enduring Summer Collection
- ‘Enduring Summer Fuchsia’ (bright red-purple)
- ‘Enduring Summer Lavender’ (lavender-pink)
- ‘Enduring Summer Pink’
- ‘Enduring Summer Red’ (scarlet-red)
- ‘Enduring Summer White’ (pure white)
Part of the Garden Debut plant collection, the Enduring Summer Collection cultivars are upright, 6 to 10 feet tall, and 4 to 5 feet wide. ‘Enduring Summer Red’ may be more cold tolerant than the others in the series.
This series was originally from Plant Introductions Inc. but is now available from Star Roses and Plants/Conard-Pyle Company. http://www.gardendebut.com https://www.starrosesandplants.com
- ‘Coral Magic’ (salmon pink) ‘
- Midnight Magic’ (dark pink)
- ‘Moonlight Magic’ (white)
- ‘Plum Magic’ (fuchsia pink)
- ‘Purple Magic’ (dark purple)
- ‘Red Magic’ (red)
- ‘Ruffled Red Magic’ (glowing red)
- ‘Twilight Magic’ (plum purple)
The initial releases of the Magic series, ‘Coral Magic’, ‘Plum Magic’, and ‘Purple Magic’, have burgundy foliage that turns green in the summer. ‘Moonlight Magic’ and ‘Midnight Magic’ are more upright growers (about 10 to 12 feet tall), and their foliage is darker black.
The blooms of ‘Midnight Magic’ are dark pink; those of ‘Moonlight Magic’ are white. The uniformity of growth and foliage color of these cultivars may need to be improved. ‘Ruffled Red Magic’, ‘Red Magic’, and ‘Twilight Magic’ are newer cultivars in the Magic series, released in 2015.
Plant Introductions Inc. in Georgia developed the Magic Series. Bailey Nursery markets them in its First Edition Plants program. http://www.firsteditionsplants.com/the-plants/ highlighted-collections/magic-crapemyrtles http://www.baileynurseries.com/our-brands/ first-editions/
- ‘Miss Frances’ (red)
- ‘Miss Gail’ (purple violet)
- ‘Miss Sandra’ (violet)
The Miss Series cultivars have dark green foliage and are about 15 to 20 feet tall. ‘Miss Gail’ is very upright; ‘Miss Frances’ and ‘Miss Sandra’ are upright spreading. Cecil Pounders at USDA–ARS in Poplaville, MS, developed and bred this series.
Mississippi State University Series
- ‘Neshoba’ (deep purple)
- ‘Pascagoula’ (deep purple)
- ‘Sequoyah’ (red)
- ‘Shumaka’ (light pink)
- ‘Tishomingo’ (medium to dark purple)
These crapemyrtles are named after the Mississippi towns Neshoba, Pascagoula, Sequoyah, Shumaka, and Tishomingo. They seem to be more susceptible to leaf spot disease than expected. Some cold damage may occur.
They were developed, bred, and released by Wayne McLaurin and Patricia Knight at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center. http://mafes.msstate.edu/discovers/canopy. asp?id=76
- ‘Holly Ann’ (cherry red)
- ‘Jaden’ (lavender)
- ‘Kylie’ (magenta)
- ‘Lyla’ (rose pink)
- ‘Zoey’ (cherry red with cotton candy pink)
The Princess Series cultivars are generally dwarf types with a slow-growing habit. ‘Jaden’ and ‘Lyla’ are smaller (2 to 3 feet); ‘Holly Ann’, ‘Kylie’, and ‘Zoey’ are taller (5 to 6 feet tall). ‘Lyla’ has a dwarf “yaupon” shape, which is about 3 feet tall with a spread of 2½ to 3 feet. http://www.gardendebut.com/
Stan Brown Releases
- ‘Cindy’ (pink with a salmon touch)
- ‘Freedom’ (red)
- ‘Kitty’s Purple’ (deep purple)
Stan Brown of Blossomberry Nursery in Clarksville, Arkansas, has been breeding crapemyrtles for years. ‘Freedom’ has very dark red blooms, and has very good mildew resistant foliage. ‘Freedom’ may have the longest bloom time (about 120 days), with the new flowers forming on the top of old flowers. The other longer-blooming crapemyrtle cultivars generally have 90 or 100 days of bloom.
‘Kitty’s Purple’ is a semi-dwarf cultivar about 4 to 6 feet tall. It is probably the darkest purple crapemyrtle, even darker than ‘Purple Magic’ and ‘Purple Cow’, but it may suffer from leaf spot.
Trials and field days
Most of these cultivars are evaluated at Stephen F. Austin State University Gardens, Nacogdoches, Texas (https://tinyurl.com/ gardens-sfau), and the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research and Extension Station, Louisiana State University, Hammond, Louisiana (https://tinyurl.com/lsu-agcalendar). They will be included in a trial at the Horticulture Teaching, Research and Extension Center, Texas A&M AgriLife, in College Station, Texas (https://tinyurl.com/ aggie-hort-events).
Green industry professionals are encouraged to attend field days available at these trial sites to obtain firsthand information.
New Crapemyrtle Cultivars
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