Take a weekend drive around South Carolina; whether it is Myrtle Beach or Charleston you will notice a plethora of Crepe Myrtle. The species was planted in South Carolina as early as 1747, in 1950 another variety from Japan was introduced which proved to be cold hardy – a good attribute for the varying climates of South Carolina. The common Crepe Myrtle prefers a hot, humid climate, where the Japanese Crepe Myrtle grew in Due to this and it’s resistance to powdery mildew the U.S. Arboretum introduce a large scale breeding program designed to combine the color variations found in the original species with the resistance of the Japanese species. Dr. Don Egolf spearheaded this program and it resulted in the introduction of over 30 varieties with the ‘Natchez’ species being among the most popular. The breeding since has created Crepe Myrtle which can be found in a range of heights and colors – the dwarf which is 3 – 6 ft and the semi-dwarf, which grows 7-15 ft.
With its hardy nature, flowering season and variety of colors, the Crepe Myrtle is a favorite and is found in many landscapes. Take a walk in Charleston; you can see beautiful mature Crepe Myrtles, 100 or more years old, dotting the landscape of the older homes. When working with your landscaper on your landscape design be sure to incorporate this colorful tree into your design.