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Growing Crape Myrtle outdoor in Southern NH

sadovod_
18 years ago

Did anyone try to grow Crape Myrtle outdoor in Southern NH, zone 5? I heard it could be root hardy in zone 5. Please advise.

Comments (43)

  • martieinct
    18 years ago

    Heptacodium miconoides is a Crape Myrtle that is reliably hardy to Z5. Although varieties sometimes differ regionally, the H.m. called 'Seven Son' is carried by Bluestone and does well in Keene in a friend's garden. You may want forego the partial shade option and plant in full sun, and mulch really well. She reported that root distress was her biggest problem in trial.

    Martie

  • sadovod_
    Original Author
    18 years ago

    Thank you, Martie!
    Elena

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  • martieinct
    18 years ago

    I stand partially corrected. 'Seven Son' is commonly called the 'northern Crape Myrtle' because of the similarity in habit to the 'southern Crape Myrtle' Lagerstroemia. Although they are in two different botanical families, they look and behave very much the same way.

    The Lagerstroemia 'Tonto' was trialed as far north as Z5a and made it with heavy mulching, but barely.

    So, if you want the look of Crape Myrtle but not the hassles of finding a Z6/7 microclimate, go with 'Seven Son.'

    I'm the first to start screaming about common name misuse, and I'm sorry if I've offended or confused anyone.

    Martie

  • diggingthedirt
    18 years ago

    Oops, not offended, didn't mean to seem that I was.

    I am going to have to look around carefully to see if I have a spot for a Heptacodium miconioides; though they don't have the range of colors of crape myrtles, they certainly look like lovely plants.

    Here is a link that might be useful: NCSU

  • ron48
    18 years ago

    The National Arboretum has some info on their sight , or they did. It was their own introduction.

    I think only one was listed zone 6

    Ron

  • martieinct
    18 years ago

    D.D. - They (H.m.)are awesome plants and, for a collector, a must-have. Not something you find in most local nurseries. Definitely find a spot for one. As a bonus, late season hummingbirds love them.

    Martie

  • tree_oracle
    18 years ago

    Elena,

    I don't think your chances are good of growing CM's in your zone. I have several different types that I grow in my area (z6b, South Shore of MA) and I find it difficult where I'm at. The first year that I tried growing them, I didn't protect any that winter and I lost them all except one Hopi and one Pokomoke. Since then, I put a cage around all of them and fill it with hay after they lose their foliage in the fall and even then I lose most of the top-growth every winter. They grow so fast that they usually bounce back to around 3-4 ft tall and wide. Even then, the Hopi's are the only ones that put on a decent bloom during the summer. The Acoma, Red Rockets, and Pocokomoke that I have bloom very little. However, the Red Rocket usually has a terrific fall foliage show so it makes up for it. So with all of the TLC that mine require in my zone, I don't think the chances are good in your zone. Sorry.

  • sadovod_
    Original Author
    18 years ago

    Thank you All!
    Elena

  • chris32599
    18 years ago

    Try one call Velma's Royal Delight which was developed in Wichita, Kansas.. in the link above that listed the different var. said that this one is hardy to -18 F...

    A mail order nursery that is in zone 5 has this var for sale, call him up, he has alots of knowlage on growing plants in his zone....

    The nursery is called Arbor Village in Holt, Missouri...
    address is PO Box 227, Holt, MO 64048.....phone # is 816-264-3911

    Good luck.......

  • arbo_retum
    18 years ago

    while i do not think that heptacodium bears ANY real resemblance to crape myrtle, i do agree that it is a beautiful must-have tree. and thanks to our beloved arnold arboretum that we have it at all- as they brought it back from china and introduced it here c. 1987.
    as an arn arboretum member, we received a tiny one in their annual member's plant mailing and it grew FANTASTICALLY FAST. i bet they are weed trees in china. i just bought a BIG one for a bargain $70 from tranquil lake last week.such a deal.and right now is when they are showing off their greatest attribute- the wonderful salmon calyxes(sp.)that match up with sedum autumn joy!

  • mizack2
    18 years ago

    Isn't the Lilac the north's answer to our beautiful southern Crapes (except perfumed)? Raised in the Ohio Valley, I loved the Lilacs but the Crapes many different colors are out of this world. They're everywhere here in GA. too, incrediably beautiful, twice a year!

  • tree_oracle
    18 years ago

    Lilacs are in no shape, form, or fashion an alternative to CMs. Lilacs are great especially their intoxicating scent but IMHO they are a major step down from crape myrtles. CM's come in many different colors, have a vastly superior length of bloom, many have exfoliating bark for winter interest, and most have fantastic fall foliage. Lilacs are tough but I've seen CMs thrive in 100+ degree heat in sun-baked red clay without any rain for weeks. CMs win the comparison without question.

    I would say the north's answer to CMs would be the Rose-of-Sharon. It also is tough, comes in a variety of colors, has a long bloom time and blooms in the summer like CMs. They also leaf out late like CMs. However, their fall foliage and bark isn't anything to write home about.

  • martieinct
    18 years ago

    Thank you All!!!! Rose-of-Sharon, Heptacodium miconoides, and something short, stalky and blue (a Lavandula?) just came together as the basis of a new shrub border along our property line. It's the one spot that needs Autumn color the most.

    Martie

  • rockman50
    18 years ago

    I must agree with Tree Oracle. I had (weep) a large very nice purple Crape Mrytle that had grown into a small tree here on the south coast of Massachusetts. But it died back to the ground during that horrible winter of 2004. I debated about letting it grow up again or replacing it with another. But it was in a rather conspicuous spot so I replaced it with a blue-flowering Rose of Sharon. It is still not as nice as the Crape, but the flowers are real nice and it is great to see a large shrub bloom in August. And I completely agree that the Lilac is in no way a match for the beauty and versatlity of the Crape Myrtle.

  • rockman50
    18 years ago

    By the way, does anybody really now about the true hardiness limits of the Rose of Sharon? Do they have some difficulty in a colder than normal winter up in southern NH and southern Maine? I was in southern Maine during the summer fo 2004 and I recall seeing many dead Rose of Sharon that looked like victims of January 2004. How far north can you push them reliably? And are some varieties more hardy than others?

  • diggingthedirt
    18 years ago

    I can't see comparing Rose of Sharon to Crape Myrtle in ANY sense except for bloom time. Aside from the exfoliating bark, CM has a really stunning, graceful form and glossy, sometimes colorful, foliage. RoS, none of the above. Lilacs can be graceful, can have lovely foliage, and do have that wonderful scent, but they're prone to mildew here, and their flowers are awfully fleeting.

    I'm not against RoS, but don't plant one if you're looking to replace a CM. I've got several RoS and some nice big old lilacs - they certainly have their place - but none of them can compare to the finicky CM. Heptacodium sounds like it might be a great choice, despite the single color.

  • martieinct
    18 years ago

    Tend to agree with DtD. I put together a picture of what my shrub border would look like (aren't computers wonderful???) and then slipped in a pic of CM to see if the POP would be the same with Heptacodium. The RofS next to the CM looked like, well, a RofS. The Heptacodium mimics the CMs less columnar habit and looks like a CM.

    The Heptacodium white is vivid, and is the perfect foil for just about anything else you want to plant with it.

    I think that the Lilac bloom isn't at all the same as the few CM I've seen in bloom. From memory, what I thought of aside from Heptacodium was Buddleia in terms of flowering habit. Ah Duh!!! There's my blue spiky!!

    Martie

  • ego45
    18 years ago

    Martie, what about Caryopteris 'Grand Bleu'?

  • lil_rhody
    18 years ago

    I'm in 6B and have a friend w/ a masters in biology and horticulture from URI. He has a small nursery here and has a Crape Myrtle he brought back from the Carolinas some years ago.
    He keeps it exclusively in a hoophouse and opens the hoophouse up in the warm months. I saw the tree this year and was amazed at the beautiful color and the number of flowers on it. When I asked about it he stated that even in our zone under these circunstances, it's difficult to keep it healthy and natural looking.

  • Monique z6a CT
    18 years ago

    I've had probs with CM in my zone 6a garden. 'Tonto' initially looked like this in 2002:

    Then, a couple of harsh winters (probably zone 5) reduced it to this more ground-hugging shrub form:

    In contrast, here is my Heptacodium. It was partially limbed up when we bought it but we removed a few more lower branches to expose the bark more. Unfortunately, a wind storm during the last year took out another major trunk and more limbs, so it is very sparse at the moment, but I do enjoy the fragrant white flowers in September and red calyxes in October:

  • Cady
    18 years ago

    Newbury Perennials in Byfield, Mass. had Heptacodium last season. I was tempted because of its reputation. Maybe this spring.

    I want to try crape myrtle, and plan to expect it to fare like Buddleia in 6b - staying alive above ground during mild winters, and dying back like a perennial during the nasty winters that sometimes come along.

  • narcnh
    18 years ago

    Man, I really wanted to try a crape myrtle, but given my zone, I think I'm hosed. Heptacodium does look like a nice alternative, though.

    Cady, you answered a question of mine. I have several Butterfly bushes that I planted two summers ago. Last winter they all died back to the ground, but they were first year plants and rather small. This year they grew much larger and more robust with thicker stems (and they continued blooming even after the first frost). So, I was wondering if the above-ground growth would survive this winter. Guess it will depend on how bad it gets. Would be nice to see them fill out and become denser shrubs.

    I STILL might try a CM.

    narcnh

  • Cady
    18 years ago

    narch,
    Butterfly bush is marginal in zone 5, but when you get several mild winters in a row, and you mulch it well it will come back every year like a perennial, and send out vigorous vegetative shoots. If you get a particulary cold winter it may kill the plant, but I've read from other cold zone people that once the butterfly bush is established (in mild years), and the winter mulch is thick, the chances improve for continued survival. The more snow insulation the better.

  • drroberttrimmer
    18 years ago

    I grow most of my crape myrtle in large containers and during the winter I put them in the garage (attached to home), but do grow 'Hopi' and 'Nanchez' outdoors where they do flower yearly but winter kill to near the ground every year.

  • jant
    18 years ago

    Funny I just spotted this post as I was just researching some of the hardier CM's for our z6 yesterday. Probably a bit risky but there is a new CM on the market that looks fabulous if you're looking for a groundcover! In thinking that the dieback is a prob for the trees, it wouldn't be as much as issue for something below 12"...just like a perennial I would think. That said, they DO mention plant in a protected location or mulch before winter. Just may have to carve out a bit more grass....lol.

  • vikiduncan_netscape_net
    17 years ago

    Boy do I know the beauty of Crape Myrtle trees since I live in Sacramento, California where they absolutely thrive and line every other street. But even still, I'm curious why everyone in New England wants them so badly. Is it because they DON'T grow there well? I mean, is it the challenge??? There are SO many beautiful trees to choose from that would thrive in NE without the headache of trying to grow something that won't. I'd be horribly disappointed myself as a home gardener if I put that much effort into a tree that only lasted two or three years then died! I have a feeling you all want the Crape so badly because it won't grow there. We in Sacramento LOVE maple trees, do have quite a few of them, and they DO change into vivid colors in the fall since we have very cold winters here (no snow tho), but everyone always wants MORE of them (even with all the litter), because we have mostly evergreens, crapes, and a lot of unremarkable looking shade trees. We want what YOU have, and YOU want what WE have. So I think most of you should just let the Crape Myrtle idea go and find something that will thrill and delight you that WILL grow in your zone and stop making your lives so stressful!

  • ego45
    17 years ago

    "Is it because they DON'T grow there well?"

    No, we want them because they are UNCOMMON here.
    We all have our share of 'easy to grow' plants, but being a passionate gardeners we all want to grow something different, that our neighbors couldn't grow.
    No matter what we think or say about ourselves, we will feel proud of ourselves when someone will ask you 'what is that?' about the plant they've never seen around.

    Would you be proud if by some miracle you'd be able to make lilac to bloom in Sacramento?

  • Monique z6a CT
    17 years ago

    "I'm curious why everyone in New England wants them so badly. Is it because they DON'T grow there well? There are SO many beautiful trees to choose from that would thrive in NE without the headache of trying to grow something that won't"

    No, I want it b/c it has a long bloom time, flowers in late summer/early fall, has no diseases (at least my 'Tonto' doesn't), nice foliage, etc. It doesn't stress me out and it isn't any challenge b/c I planted it years ago and I don't do a thing to it besides cutting out any dead wood in the spring. Mine had a shrubby upright form, now it is low & bushy after a zone 5 winter, but I still enjoy it here in zone 6. Altho, I have to admit that it is fun to try uncommon plants :-)

  • diggingthedirt
    17 years ago

    I grow crape myrtles and lots of other marginally hardy shrubs and trees, and I agree with George about the reasons. When my corner of Cape Cod was re-classified as zone 7, I admit I was a little disappointed. It took some of the fun out of growing CMs, winter jasmine (Jasminium nudiflorum), chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), Carolina jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens), camellias, and other semi-tender plants.

    These are plants that are challenging, they sometimes die to the ground and don't make much of a show the following year. But they get a "free pass" because they're garden-worthy and challenging, and because they always elicit questions from gardening friends and visitors who don't recognize them.

    I could probably get a better display out of hardier plants, but sometimes that's not the point - at least not for a plant collector.

  • viki_grow
    17 years ago

    OK, now I know the reason. I also know why "ego45" responded the way they did. Screen names do unveil a lot, donÂt they? Yikes and there are at least 44 more of your kind out there?!

    So ego45, you get a high off of growing something someone else may not have and them asking you what it is? What happens then? Do you tell them? Then do they end up with one of their own in their garden the very next weekend? That must really kill the buzz.

    Anyway, I was just trying to make a point about gardening being a relaxing, soulful experience, and having a full, thick garden filled with plants that love where they are is so tranquil. I would hate to glance over to a struggling shrub, looking half the size it used to be, and realizing there would be many other options that would thrive. When plants die, that bothers me. THATÂs what would kill MY buzz.

    By the way, Lilacs are all over Sacramento, including my very own yard, both the bush variety (Syringa vulgaris) and wild lilac trees -- of which I have six! In fact, wild lilac trees sprout up along highways all by themselves (hence their name). Guess you missed the part about us having very cold nights which would force Lilacs into dormancy, and since our spring season is long and warm, they bloom profusely, usually right before Easter so I have a beautiful arrangement for our dinner table. There is even a California Lilac cultivar now that doesnÂt need to be forced into dormancy to have beautiful blooms the very first year. Lilacs were my mom's favorite, rest her soul, and I also have two of the bushes she had in her yard that I transplanted after she passed away. TheyÂre about five feet tall now.

    So, while we may not have much of a challenge here in Sacramento growing anything at all (honest, we just plunk plants into the ground and voila! Â although they need to be plunked in the right locations) there's also no stress either, but rather a whole lot of giggling with delight, and a whole lot of sitting on garden benches taking in the view. We DO have to either cover our citrus trees during our freezing winter nights though or spray them with water right before bedtime, but thatÂs about all the babying that goes on here.

    Just a tidbit of more info., Sacramento is called "Camellia City" and while I do wish we had more choices of evergreen flowering shrubs than Camellias and Azaleas, especially since they are shade bushes here, we donÂt fret much about other gardeners having the same things we do. There are so many colors and varieties of everything we grow, when we go on home garden tours every single year, we never see two gardens that are exactly alike.

    Oh, I guess our only challenge is where to put all the plants! I do struggle with that sometimes. :o)

  • york_rose
    17 years ago

    Interesting to see the passion this shrub engenders. Aesthetically it has never done much for me, but to each his/her own.

  • chasinlex
    16 years ago

    Hey, I live in Lex, KY (zone6/7) and Crape Myrtles do fine here. Dynamite is a cold-hardy variety and has beautiful red blooms. Zone 5 might be pushing it...even if it is root-hardy I don't think it would be worth the effort if it can't grow into a tree form. I think I would be frustrated each spring when I had to cut it all the way back to the ground. I have however seen some dwarf varieties listed hardy to zone 5.

  • margritz
    16 years ago

    I have a Hopi Crepe Myrtle that just finished its second year in Omaha, NE Zone 5. It gets about 3 feet tall. I mulch it well and it is near the wall on the south side of the house.

  • jmclum
    16 years ago

    I just purchased a Tonto Crapemyrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei) In the Agway Garden Center in Binghamton, NY. The tag states it's Hardiness is Zone 5. I hope they are correct. It's a nice 6 foot tree and has the exfoliating bark.

  • plan9fromposhmadison
    14 years ago

    I went to college in New Orleans. It was a horribly long, depressing, and expensive experience. There were many times when I was at the end of my rope. Honestly, I don't think I would still be alive, if the sight and fragrance of Crape Myrtles hadn't occasionally reassured me. So yeah, I can see why you want one.

    I have my desk positioned so that I can look out at my own beautiful CM. It's at least forty years old, and twenty feet tall, with a beautiful, unmolested, mature shape: very much a tree from the Jungles of India. The blooms are a rich orchid/violet color, and are at their peak right now. And yes, the tree continually tells me that everything will be all right.

    To grow one in New Hampshire, you will need:
    .A hardy variety
    .A sun trap (preferably a SE exposure beside your house)
    .Seriously deep mulch in winter

    Or: a miniature variety in a pot

  • eftink
    14 years ago

    Another possibility is a Golden Raintree, These are frowned upon in warmer climates but they fail to reproduce naturally in our zone 5. They have long blooming periods followed by showy pods for another month. However the seeds don't germinate.

  • PRO
    GOLDEN DREIDLE
    8 years ago

    Crape myrtles grow fine here on the Connecticut coast zone 6b/7a, there are some pretty large ones in the center of Branford even with temps hitting -4°F last winter.

  • bill_ri_z6b
    8 years ago

    I have a crape myrtle "Pink Velour" here in my zone 6B garden in Providence. It dies back some every year. Some years it dies nearly to the ground, but not always. We had -8 this past weekend, so it will be a good test. But it has always grown back nicely, and although it will probably never attain "tree" status, it still has great glossy foliage, and the new leaves are shiny reddish-purple. The flowers are in summer, when all the spring flowering things have long faded. So, overall, for me at least it's nice to have it, whatever size it may grow to.


  • gardgen
    3 years ago

    There is a public garden in Canton Mass the Cabot Bradley House that says they have crape myrtles. Historical gardens so we use to be zone 5 and now are 6. Am curious as to what varieties they grow

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH
    3 years ago

    Garden, if you find out, post it here to add to this.