Hybrid Crape Myrtle
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon:
- Broadleaf deciduous tree/shrub, Many cultivars with flowers colors that range from white, pink, purple, to deep red.
- Full sun, moist well-drained soil. Prefers hot, sunny climates (e.g., southeastern US) where it blooms in summer, but in the Pacific Northwest it blooms in late summer or not at all in very cool summers. Mildew is a serious problem.
- Hardy to USDA Zone (6)7
- In 1956, seeds of Lagerstroemia fauriei, a somewhat more cold hardy species, were collected by John L. Creech in a mountain forest above Kurio, Yakushima, Japan, and introduced to the U.S. by the New Crops Research Branch of the USDA. Plants raised from the Japanese seed were grown at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., and found to be free of an infestation of powdery mildew. Mildew is a serious problem in Crape Myrtle. In 1962 the U.S. National Arboretum started an extenstive program of crape myrtle breeding and selection under the direction of the outstanding woody plant breeder, Donald R. Egolf. Under this program L. fauriei was crossed with L. indica 'Pink Lace' in 1964. Fifty per cent of the resulting hybrid seedlings showed no susceptibility to powdery mildew. However, the landscape merit of the seedling populations did not become evident until five years later when their bark began to exfoliate to reveal a range of cinnamon brown to pale cream mottled trunks. 'Natchez' was selected from this group of seedlings in 1969 for propagation and future evaluation; it was officially named and released in July, 1978. 'Natchez' represents a major breakthrough in the battle to introduce powdery mildew resistance into one of the South's most commonly planted summer-flowering shrubs. Hybrids also have been developed from L. limii. Two of the hybrid cultivars on Oregon State Univ. campus:
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