Monday, July 28, 2014

'Tonto' Crapemyrtle: Featured Plant of The Day

 Lagerstroemia x 'Tonto' 

Type    Tree, shrub, woody plant
Hardy range    7A to 9A
Height    5' to 10' / 1.60m to 3.00m
Spread    8' to 12' / 2.40m to 3.60m
Growth rate    Average
Form    Rounded and vase shaped
Exposure    Full sun
Persistence    Deciduous

Bloom Color    Red
Bloom Time    Spring and Summer

The flowers are very showy.

This plant tolerates some drought and a little salt.
This plant will grow in dry soil.
Suitable soil is well-drained/loamy, sandy or clay.
The pH preference is an acidic to slightly alkaline (less than 6.8 to 7.7) soil.

Leaf Color    Green
Fall Color    Orange, red and yellow
This plant has attractive fall colors.

 Culture Notes
'Tonto' grows best in full sun with rich, moist soil but will tolerate less hospitable positions in the landscape just as well, once it becomes established. Foliage hangs on well in fall due to tolerance to leaf spot diseases. It grows well in limited soil spaces in urban areas such as along boulevards, in parking lots, and in small pavement cutouts if provided with some irrigation until well established.  They tolerate clay and alkaline soil well. This plant is considered mostly allergy free and causes little or no allergy problems in most people.

Many crapemyrtles are magnets for a host-specific aphid that only infests crapemyrtle, not other plants. The damage this causes is not lethal to crapemyrtle. Many beneficial insects which feed on pests that damage other landscape plants use this aphid for food. In this way, the crapemyrtle aphid serves as prey for beneficial insects. Therefore, planting crapemyrtle that attract aphids can enhance biological control of insect pests on other plants in the landscape.

Maintain adequate mulch area

Clear all turf away from beneath the branches and mulch to the drip line, especially on young trees, to reduce competition with turf and weeds. This will allow roots to become well established and keep plants healthier. Prune the tree so trunks and branches will not rub each other.  Remove some secondary branches on main branches with included bark.  This reduces the likelihood of the main branch splitting from the tree later when it has grown to become an important part of the landscape.  Locate the tree properly, taking into account the ultimate size, since the tree looks best if it is not pruned to control size. The tree can enhance any landscape with its delightful spring flush of foliage. It can be the centerpiece of your landscape if properly located.

Planting and establishing shrubs

The most common cause of young plant failure is planting too deep.  Plant the root ball no deeper than it was in the nursery.  In most instances, the root flare zone (point where the top-most root in the root ball originates from the trunk) should be located just above the landscape soil surface. Sometimes plants come from the nursery with soil over the root flare. If there is soil over this area, scrape it off.  The planting hole should be at least twice the width of the root ball, preferably wider.  In all but exceptional circumstances where the soil is very poor, there is no need to incorporate anything into the backfill soil except the loosened soil that came out of the planting hole.  Never place ANY soil over the root ball. If a row or grouping of plants is to be installed, excavating or loosening the soil in the entire bed and incorporating organic matter enhances root growth and establishment rate.

Weed suppression during establishment is essential.  Apply a 3-inch thick layer of mulch around the plant to help control weed growth.  Keep it at least 10 inches from the trunk.  If you apply it over the root ball, apply only a one or two inch layer.   This allows rainwater and air to easily enter the root ball and keeps the trunk dry.  Placing mulch against the trunk or applying too thick a layer above the root ball can kill the plant by oxygen starvation, death of bark, stem and root diseases, prevention of hardening off for winter, vole and other rodent damage to the trunk, keeping soil too wet, or repelling water.  Regular irrigation through the first growing season after planting encourages rapid root growth, which is essential for quick plant establishment.

 Landscape Uses
-    Container plantings
-    Border
-    Street tree
-    Pollarding
-    Standard
-    Massing
-    Specimen

 Attributes and Features
-    Pest tolerant
-    Persistent fruit
-    Attractive fruit

 This plant can be trained to a single trunk.