The Purple Crape Myrtle has attractive, purple flowers. It is an upright, wide-spreading, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub or small tree in the loosestrife family. It typically grows to 15-25’ tall. It is native from the Himalayas through southern China, southeast Asia and Japan, but has naturalized in the U.S. from Virginia to Arkansas south to Texas and Florida. An additional common name is Lilac of the South in reference to its popularity in southern gardens (USDA Zones 7-9). Key ornamental features include long bloom period, exfoliating bark and superb fall color. Terminal, crepe-papery inflorescences (to 6-18” long) of showy flowers with crimped petals bloom in summer (sometimes to frost) on upright branches. Alternate to sub-opposite, thick and leathery, privet-like, elliptic to oblong leaves (to 3" long) emerge light green often with a tinge of red, mature to dark green by summer and finally turn attractive shades of yellow-orange-red in fall. Flowers give way to round seed capsules which often persist well into winter. Smooth pale pinkish-gray bark on mature branches exfoliates with age. Hardy in zones 6-9.
Growing Instructions for the Crape Myrtle
The seeds have a short period of dormancy. They will sprout faster if they are stratified. 1. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours. 2. Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 1 month. 3. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the mixture in a pot with drainage holes in the base. 4. Put the seeds on the soil. 5. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. 6. Water the seeds. 7. Place the pots in an area with warm temperatures in full sun or part shade. 8. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.