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The crape myrtle trees remain beautiful deciduous shrubs in the garden naturalized across South Carolina. But the Natchez crape myrtle stands out, and specific small ornamental trees in the genus stand out.
The white crape myrtle is a popular cultivar with elegant and prolific white flowers, and today we will tell you more about how to grow and care for the Natchez crape myrtle tree.
Plant Name: Lagerstroemia indica
Other Name: Crape Myrtle Natchez
Plant Type: Deciduous tree
Native Areas: Asia
Light Requirement: Full sun exposure to partial shade
Watering: Regular watering
Fertilizer: Slow-release fertilizer
Propagation: Cuttings or layering
Growth: 20 to 30 feet
Soil Type: Well-drained soil
USDA Hardiness Zones: 7-9
More About Lagerstroemia x Natchez
The Natchez belongs to the Lagerstroemia genus in the Lythraceae family. It is a hybrid cultivar from Lagerstroemia indica and Lagerstroema fauriei. It is named after the Natchez Native American people.
The small tree grows with multi-stem branches and a trunk and is prized for the panicles of white flowers in mid to late summer. The tree has dark green leaves that turn orange and red, creating an attractive fall color.
In winter, the bark takes center stage as it peels to become shades of reddish brown. Many refer to crape myrtle trees as the Lilac of the South, symbolizing love, beauty, good luck, and longevity. Hence, you see the flowers in wedding bouquets.
The Natchez crape myrtle tree makes for an excellent small tree in the yard or landscape, with the beautiful flower color attracting butterflies 🦋 and other wildlife to the garden. The Natchez can reach heights of 30 feet tall and 25 feet wide.
These are fast-growing trees with a growth rate of three feet per year.
Natchez Crape Myrtle Tree Care
Natchez crape myrtle can thrive in the USDA growing zones 7 to 9 and is surprisingly cold hardy to survive winter temperatures down to -5ºF. The best spot for crepe myrtles is full sun and well-drained soil to help retain moisture.
The Natchez crape myrtle trees are reasonably heat and drought-tolerant.
When planted in the landscaping, please do this in the fall or early spring by digging a hole twice as wide as the root ball but keep it at the same depth as in the nursery pot. Keep the top of the root ball above the soil surface.
With the ground draining well, you can grow Natchez crape myrtle trees in a pot 30 inches wide and deep. Keep the container in full sun to partial shade and water deeply, waiting for the ground to dry between watering.
Sunlight Needs Natchez Crape Myrtle Trees
Natchez crape myrtle needs six hours of direct sunlight daily at a west or south-facing location. Doing this will protect the shrub from the afternoon sun, leading to the yellowing of the foliage. While too much shade will result in fewer flowers.
Soil Conditions Natchez Crape
The plants need loose ground with good drainage that also holds moisture. Ideal soils are sandy, chalky, or loamy soils. It also does its best in slightly acidic ground with pH levels between 5.0 to 6.5.
But white crape myrtle trees can thrive in neutral soils as well.
Watering Natchez Crape Myrtle Trees
Once young trees become established, the Natchez crape can tolerate drought and needs moderate watering once a month without rainfall. But your new plants will need water regularly for the roots to establish
Natchez Crape Myrtle Fertilizing
For established Natchez crape myrtle trees, feed them once new leaves appear at the start of the growing season. You can use a slow-release fertilizer, providing them with long-lasting nutrients.
Feed newly planted Natchez bare root plants once a month in the first growing season with a diluted liquid feed.
Pruning Lagerstroemia x Natchez
When not dormant, the best time to prune your plants is in winter or early spring. It is the best time to give your shrub a good shape desired. You can remove the weak and damaged branches at any time of the year.
Notably, you can grow it with a multi-stem or a single stem to form a tree. The white flowers bloom on new growth, and best to avoid pruning them when the buds develop. You can deadhead the spent pure white flowers throughout the blooming period.
Propagating Crape Myrtle ‘Natchez’
You can propagate the Natchez trees using softwood, hardwood cuttings, or layering to ensure you always have a large shrub with gorgeous white blooms.
Take softwood cuttings in spring or early summer when you notice new growth.
Choose healthy and not dead stems (joke 😂) to cut about six inches long with a few leaves.
Remove the lower foliage and dip the cut end into a rooting hormone.
Fill a pot with a moist potting medium, cover the cutting with a clear plastic bag, or use a dome to create a humid environment.
Keep the pot in bright indirect light and keep it moist.
In about eight weeks, it should develop roots, and you can transplant your new plants into larger containers or outdoors.
Take hardwood cuttings in late fall or at the start of winter.
Follow the same steps mentioned by taking a six-inch long cutting without leaves.
Dip the end of the cutting into a rooting hormone and plant in a container with a potting mix that drains well.
Cover it with a plastic bag and keep it in a cool spot in bright light while moist.
When spring arrives, the cutting should have a root system, and you can transplant it into a larger container or the garden.
Take a low-hanging stem from your Natchez crape myrtle and bend it to the ground.
Make a small cut on the underside of the stem and apply a rooting hormone to the wound.
Bury that cut area in the ground with soil and leave the top exposed.
Keep it moist until you see new roots developing, which can take several months.
Once it roots, you can remove the stem from the parent plant and place it in a container or other part of the landscape.
Growing From Seed
While you can grow Natchez crape myrtle using seed, it is a long process, and your plant may not be true to the parent as it is a hybrid cultivar.
Common Crape Myrtle ‘Natchez’ Pests & Diseases
Natchez crape myrtle is very resistant to powdery mildew that targets crape myrtles. But it is susceptible to leaf spots, and to prevent infections, keep your Natchez crape myrtle well-ventilated for airflow to reach all shrub parts. You can do this when the tree is pruned.
The pests that bother Natchez crape myrtle are aphids, scale insects, and Japanese beetles. You can spray insecticidal soap or neem oil as a preventative measure.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Natchez crape myrtle produces white blooms all summer, and the bark is reddish-brown with dark green leaves—the bark peels to display an orange-to-red color. The foliage provides a great fall color.
The Natchez crape myrtle is not an evergreen but a deciduous species that drop leaves in the fall to help conserve energy in dormancy during winter.
The Natchez crape myrtle drops leaves in the fall and sheds bark in the winter, making the area messy.
The crape myrtle Natchez has a strong fragrance, while some other crape myrtles have a mild sweet scent. A standout with the crape myrtle Natchez in the yard is the long-lasting flowers with the beautiful bark.
Natchez crape myrtles can reach 30 feet tall in the right growing conditions.
The two trees are often confused with one another as both have white flowers, but the crape myrtle Natchez grows taller with a wider spread.