Lagerstroemia indica ‘Nana’, otherwise known as Dwarf Crepe Myrtle, are looking brilliant at the moment. Lagerstroemia indica ‘Nana’ are great feature plants for small courtyards or gardens. If you have planter pots or a half wine barrel that is looking for a feature plant, consider these.
Crepe myrtles are beautiful deciduous trees that look great in autumn. Their foliage display changes from red to orange tones before dropping in mid to late June (start of winter). They can grow in a vast range of conditions and soils, but best prefer a well-drained soil texture. If you are on a heavier soil base, such as clay, just add some humus/compost to the soil and mix it in. The humus/compost will help to improve soil drainage, texture, and will gradually help improve soils that may be anaerobic. Crepe myrtles grow best in a full sun position, but if you don’t have an area that receives all day sun, then a position that gets most of the afternoon sun is best.
These dwarf forms are a compact grower that will grow to a maximum height of 1- 1.5m (3 -6 ft) and a width of 1.5m (4-6 ft). The size of the Lagerstroemia indica ‘Nana’ allows you to grow them in various places around the garden. As I mentioned earlier, they are great plants for smaller patios and can be used in pots. They can also be a great hedge display and could be used in espaliering.
Espaliering is when you train a plant to grow along a flat surface or structure. When espaliering you can influence and control the growth patterns of a plant by making all braches perfectly horizontal and symmetrical. This is an old horticultural art form that is still used in a wide range of gardens today. Espaliering is widely used in smaller gardens because it helps to save space and is quite efficient.
Australian summers can provide odd temperatures that can drastically affect our plants. Crepe myrtles flourish in the Australian heat and are drought tolerant once established. Make sure to water the plant regularly during its first summer after it’s been planted, as this helps to reduce transplantation stock and stress. Continue to do this until the plant is settled and has shown signs of establishing. During the summer months beautiful clusters of flowers will appear. There are a great variety of different colours that are available to choose from in both the normal tree varieties and dwarf forms. Colours include pink, mauve, magenta, white and red. Another great aspect of these shrubs is the beautiful trunk. Depending on the age and species of the Lagerstroemia indica ‘Nana,’ the colouring and bark can vary; sometimes the bark will peel off and reveal a pink/coral coloured trunk.
The next time you are thinking of planting a small ornamental tree consider the Dwarf Crepe myrtle.
By Bonnie-Marie Hibbs