Acoma Crape Myrtle Care: Learn How To Grow An Acoma Crape Myrtle Tree
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By: Teo Spengler
The pure-white ruffled flowers of Acoma crape myrtle trees contrast dramatically with the shiny green foliage. This hybrid is a small tree, thanks to one dwarf parent. It’s also rounded, mounded and somewhat weeping, and makes a long-blooming vigorous beauty in the garden or backyard. For more information about Acoma crape myrtle trees, read on. We’ll give you instructions on how to grow an Acoma crape myrtle as well as tips on Acoma crape myrtle care.
Information about Acoma Crape Myrtle
Acoma crape myrtle trees (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Acoma’) are hybrid trees with a semi-dwarf, semi-pendulous habit. They are filled with slightly drooping, snowy, showy flowers all summer long. These trees put on an attractive autumn display at the end of the summer. The foliage turns purple before it falls.
Acoma only grows to about 9.5 feet (2.9 m.) tall and 11 feet (3.3 m.) wide. The trees usually have multiple trunks. This is why the trees can be wider than they are tall.
How to Grow an Acoma Crape Myrtle
Those growing Acoma crape myrtles find that they are relatively trouble free. When the Acoma cultivar came on the market in 1986, it was among the first mildew-resistant crape myrtles. It isn’t troubled by many insect pests either. If you want to start growing Acoma crape myrtles, you’ll want to learn something about where to plant these trees. You’ll also need information on Acoma myrtle care.
Acoma crape myrtle trees thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7b through 9. Plant this small tree in a site that gets full sun to encourage maximum flowering. It isn’t picky about soil types and can grow happily in any type of soil from a heavy loam to clay. It accepts a soil pH of 5.0–6.5.
Acoma myrtle care includes ample irrigation the year the tree is first transplanted in your yard. After its root system is established, you can cut back on water.
Growing Acoma crape myrtles does not necessarily include pruning. However, some gardeners thin lower branches to expose the lovely trunk. If you do prune, act in late winter or early spring before growth begins.
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Read more about Crepe Myrtle
Answer #1 · Gardenality.com's Answer · Hi Lisa! - This is a good question. Many folks buy the Acoma crape myrtle because it's a semi-weeping semi-dwarf that makes a very attractive weeping mound in the landscape to about 10 feet in height and width. Not too mention the loads of pretty white flower clusters that are produced during summer.
As to your question about tree forming an Acoma crape myrtle. Sure, you can do that. Of course, there are a few folks out there who believe crape myrtle should never be pruned. maintaining that any pruning is "Crape Myrtle Murder." And they probably promote this because so many people do prune them incorrectly. However, there are those like me who prefer growing the taller growing varieties (8 feet or more in height) as trees with a nice full canopy atop visible trunks.
I've been pruning crape myrtle into trees for over 30 years now and with good success. never have "murdered" a tree. In fact, it's almost impossible to kill a crape myrtle. You can hack an old or damaged one back to the ground and it'll reemerge! That being said, after a crape myrtle is tree formed or a main trunk is removed some suckers often do emerge from the base. These will need to be removed every so often and it's been my experience that the suckers diminish over time.
When tree forming a crape myrtle that's growing as a shrub, you first decide how many main trunks you want. If you're lucky, the trees you purchased will have only 3 to 5 trunks. Any more trunks than that and I usually select the best, most upright growing 3 to 5 and remove all the rest, cutting them off as low as possible to the ground or even beneath the surface. This type of heavy pruning should be done in late winter or, at the latest, right when you see new leaves emerging. After having selected the main trunks, I begin removing lower branches along the remaining trunks to a point about halfway up the trunks. Make sure before removing any branch that doing so won't spoil the shape of the canopy. Then, if necessary, I prune the top branches as instructed and shown in this article:
Hope this information is helpful and let us know if you need any further details or have any other questions
In the Northeast Florida Jacksonville
Crape Myrtle Acoma Preferred Exposure:
– Full sun is needed for Acoma Crape Myrtles to grow and bloom properly.
Acoma Crape Myrtle Foliage | Bark:
– Large green deciduous foliage of the Acoma Crape Myrtle turns a beautiful
reddish purple in the fall before falling off the tree for winter.
– Bark of the Acoma Crape Myrtle is a beautiful mottled gray color and smooth textured.
Acoma Crape Myrtle Soil Preference / Salt Tolerance:
– Acoma Crape Myrtles do well in most soils providing they are well draining.
Acoma Crape Myrtle Size Variance:
– Acoma Crape Myrtle is one of the smaller growing selections and will only grow up to 10 feet high and 15 feet wide.
– Use Acoma Crape Myrtles where you have limited space that a larger species would not be well suited to or you would have to trim back all of the time to keep it in scale you can still allow this variety to grow to its full potential without all the fuss.
Crape Myrtle Acoma Growth Habit:
– Crape Myrtle Acomas growth habit is finally something to sing about! The arching branches form an almost weeping habit particularly when laden down with big heavy blooms, giving the tree its uncharacteristic and unique appearance. Very pretty landscape specimen for foundation
plantings and flower borders.
Crape Myrtle Acoma Growth Rate:
– Crepe Myrtles growth rate is tied to its mature growth size, 30 ft tall Muskogee Crepe Myrtles will grow very quickly but Catawba that has a mature height of only 12 ft is much slower growing. Since this one is only 10 ft at maturity….yep its not so much with the fastness. But it makes up for its
slower growth rate with its unique weeping habit.
Acoma Crape Myrtle Bloom:
– Acoma Crape Myrtle blooms large white cluster flowers on the ends of semi weeping branches.
Crape Myrtle Acoma Water Requirements:
-Crape Myrtles trees are drought tolerant after they are established in the
landscape but will need to be watered well after planting for two weeks to three months in the establishment period depending on the size of the tree being planted and during prolonged periods of drought after established
in the landscape.
Butterfly or Bird Attracting:
Best Uses For Crape Myrtles:
– Few trees make quite the statement in the landscape that a Crape Myrtle can. They bloom for months with little care on our part to keep them looking spectacular. Its little wonder they hold such a place in our hearts and in our gardens.
– Plant them alone as a specimen accent or in groups for added dramatic flare. With so many varieties, colors and sizes to choose from, no southern garden should be without at least one!
– Crepe Myrtles are the perfect touch of color when inter planted in hedge rows for privacy screens or property borders.
– Low maintenance and drought tolerant once established, Crepe Myrtles make excellent commercial plantings for parking lots and street trees.
Care of Crape Myrtles:
– Water every day during the establishment period. See watering your newly planted trees for more information.
-They will need good water during the establishment period and supplemental irrigation during dry spells or particularly hot dry summers.
– All Crepe Myrtles bloom on new wood and should be pruned in winter or early spring for best bloom.
– Take care to remove basal suckers and small twiggy growth each year on larger specimens and remove crossing or touching branch growth as well as branches growing towards the center rather than the more desirable growth that grows out and away from other branches.
– During the summer growth season you can choose to trim old blooms and your Crepe Myrtle will put out a second lighter and slightly smaller bloom to replace it and prolong your bloom season.
– Provide a 1 ft diameter circle of mulched area where grass is kept from growing for each inch of caliper (or diameter) of trunk measured 4 inches from the ground level.
– Fertilize each spring with a heaping shovel of compost or a mixture of Milorganite and a slow release poly coated plant food such as Osmocote or Stay Green general purpose plant food, sprinkling the fertilizer around the mulch circle underneath the foliage of the tree.
A History of the Crepe Myrtle
In the early summer of the year 1997, I accepted a job with Red Hat Software, which involved a relocation to the area near Raleigh, North Carolina. I was tasked with building and directing their technical support department, and as a young 22 year old programmer, I was thinking about nothing but my future in technology. Upon arriving at the office, though, all thoughts of software left my mind as I walked under a canopy of beautiful trees, blooming profusely in white, pink and lavender blooms, filling the area with the sweetest fragrance I've ever experienced. Standing on a thin carpet of fallen blooms, with a canopy of color above me, I immediately fell in love with the Crepe Myrtle tree, and since then have set out to collect them all.
Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) was introduced into the United States around the time of its founding. It was quickly propagated and grown throughout the south. The only species grown in the US was Lagerstroemia indica, which blooms for a long time but is quite susceptible to powdery mildew. For over 200 years this shrub has been bred and improved cultivars released.
In the 1950's, John Creech (of the US National Arboretum) undertook an expedition to Japan looking for interesting new plants, and he sent back seeds from the Japanese crepe myrtle, Lagerstroemia fauriei. 5 of these seedlings were planted at the North Carolina State University, on the site where their arboretum now stands. One of those seedlings exhibited an attractive upright form with interesting bark that exfoliates to reveal a smooth trunk mottled with orange, white and brown colors. This selection was later named 'Fantasy' and is still available in the trade.
Well, all five of the seedlings performed well and although their flowers didn't last very long, all their other advantages made them promising specimens for breeding purposes. The US National Arboretum got right to work, crossing these new seedlings with the popular Lagerstroemia indica cultivars already in cultivation. The result was a flood of new cultivars, all given Native American names like Natchez and Arapaho. So when you see a crepe myrtle with names like this, you'll know it's a L. fauriei x L. indica cross. The tree will usually be taller and the powdery mildew probably won't affect them in your garden.
'Muskogee' is a 30 foot shrub with light lavender blooms. 'Natchez', its twin sister, is identically shaped but with white blooms. They bloom simultaneously and make a tremendous pairing in the landscape. 'Zuni' is a semi-dwarf with purple flowers and grows to 8 feet. The very best red colors in this series come from 'Tonto' and 'Arapaho', and these two are the standard red colored crepe myrtles and both are excellent.
In Oklahoma, mid 1990's, Dr. Carl Whitcomb grew over 65,000 seedlings of Crepe Myrtles, treating them with a cocktail of strange chemicals designed to introduce mutations and probably also polyploidism. From those seedlings, he introduced a pile of exciting new cultivars, including 'Raspberry Sundae', 'Dynamite', 'Red Rocket', and others. His work continues into the present day and you'll find many of his new and old cultivars in garden centers all over the south.
Today much of the excitement around crepe myrtle breeding is in the creation of black leafed cultivars. Around 10 years ago, Dr. Cecil Pounders (again of the US National Arboretum) irradiated seeds with gamma radiation, and ended up with 'Delta Jazz', the first black leafed cultivar. The genetics for black leaves are heritable, and not long after that he released 5 more new black cultivars as the Ebony series. Ebony Flame is striking with its bright red blooms, and Ebony and Ivory similarly amazes with its pure white blooms set against that dark foliage. There is a company selling these Ebony series under a different name, so watch out for that confusing situation.
In 2015 Ball Ornamentals released and is promoting Dr. Michael Dirr's Enduring Summer series, which includes reblooming cultivars in red, fuchsia, pink, white, and lavender. The list of exciting new crepe myrtles goes on and on but space prohibits me from continuing. With all this the future of crepe myrtles looks bright indeed.
Crepe Myrtles want full sun with fertile, well drained and slightly acidic soil. Plant in the fall or spring and you'll get quick growth. They respond well to nitrogen in early spring but you should withhold fertilizer once blooms begin. Once blooms finish, you'll get seedpods that you can leave or trim away. Some cultivars may rebloom after deadheading.
Once fall arrives and the leaves fall off, you may prune them, but be cautious against aggressive pruning. You've probably seen those ugly stumps left behind when unthinking homeowners or landscapers take heavy saws to their trees, cutting them down at eye level, leaving horribly ugly scars. This act, dubbed by many as Crepe Murder, is a real eyesore to any region in which it is practiced. My method of proper pruning is more similar to what you'd do with fruit trees. Remove water spouts and internal crossing branches. Anything smaller than a pencil can be removed. If it's removal would require a saw, it's probably too big to be removed. Listen to the tree: it will tell you how it wants to grow, and then you can help it accomplish that goal with careful pruning and shaping.
Crepe Myrtles are easy to propagate. Seeds saved in the fall should be placed in a ziplock bag with some potting soil or vermiculite, very lightly moistened and placed in the refrigerator for 60 days. Afterward, remove from the fridge and sow as normal, and germination will occur within 2 weeks. The seedlings are very susceptible to cold, so keep them in a nice warm environment during and after germination. Softwood cuttings from newly grown suckers usually root with little trouble. Rooting hormone and a mist system promote quicker rooting. You can also propagate with semi-hardwood cuttings, or hardwood cuttings over winter.
So, is it spelled "Crepe Myrtle" or "Crape Myrtle"? The flower is named after the blooms, which resemble crepe paper, and because of that I have always spelled it as "crepe". Historically, though, "Crape" has been preferred and either spelling is accepted. For my part, I feel that we should stick with "crepe" since it is an accurately descriptive name, plus "crape" just looks like an ugly name. :-)