Perennials/Crape Myrtles & Reflected Southern Sun
Hi, Tom. It's been a while since I e-mailed you. I hope all is well with your and your family.
I know you're not technically the "shrub expert," but since there isn't a shrub expert on Allexperts, I thought I would ask you since you are from Kansas. Do you have any experience with Crape Myrtles? I am thinking about planting some Hopi Crape Myrtles and Plum Magic Crape Myrtles on the south side of my house to replace the scorched Weigelas that I recently moved to the east side of my house. Do you know if Crape Myrtles would thrive along a south facing wall in SC Kansas? They would get full sun, reflected sun, and lots of heat just like the Weigelas received. If you really don't know, do you know of another expert I could ask? Jim Hyland is on vacation until 12/31/13.
Thanx for your question and thanx for your kind comments. I hope you and your family are doing well also.
I've grown crape myrtle from seed I obtained in the South and had some good experiences with it here in the Kansas City area. There is a person who lives near my home who has two crape myrtles that I know are at least 10 or 12 years old and they do rather well. I've also seen crape myrtles grown around town that almost grow into small trees like they do in Memphis or Atlanta. One thing crape myrtles like is heat and sunshine. I think your southern exposure will be superb for your crape myrtles and South Central Kansas is an even better location for a crape myrtle than my more northerly location here in NE Kansas. Remember to keep the plant well hydrated in the summer during our "drought-like" conditions. Heat is generally not an issue as long as the plant is given the equivalent of one inch of water per week. A good, throough soaking will do the trick. I would mulch around it too with straw, leaf mold, bark chips, etc. A good feeding of well-composted manure worked into the soil in late spring and again in mid-summer will benefit the crape myrtle or you can use some of the fertilizer spikes that are recommended for flowering trees and shrubs. Our soil in Kansas, particularly the farther west one goes, is quite alkaline and the crape myrtle benefits from a slightly acidic or at least neutral soil. I personally, wouldn't go to a lot of trouble to mess much with soil pH, but would instead opt for good nutrition such as the compost or fertilizer spike. I hope this helps.