Plant in Full Sun Prune them to remove suckers and lower branches, and remove any crossing branches while maintaining the natural growth habit of the tree or shrub. Avoid cutting back large stems to the same location year after year (the practice now called crape murder). Watch for aphids and Japanese beetles. Crape myrtles bloom on and on for up to three months in pinks, lavenders, purples, reds and white. Nearly carefree, they hold up beautifully to heat and drought and help improve our outlook during our long, hot summers. It’s worthwhile to select plants that mature to fill the available space. That willreduce the amount of cutting and pruning you will do in the future.Large tree forms include Natchez, a 30-foot white bloomer; Muskogee, with lightlavender flowers; Tuscarora, with dark, coral pink blooms; and Potomac, with “bubblegum” pink flowers.Trees 10 to 20 feet tall include Apalachee, with light lavender flowers; Lipan, withpurplish lavender; Regal Red, with vivid red flowers; Sioux, with shocking pink blooms;and Yuma, a double lavender bloomer. Prune to Remove Suckers Plant crape myrtles in full sun. Otherwise, flowering may be reduced or stop all together. Heat seems to be a requirement for full-fledged flowering. Cool, shady nooks with poor drainage are not for them. Once the plants are established, they’re drought tolerant and resilient. Sites with good air circulation will reduce powdery mildew. The selections with Indian tribal names released from the National Arboretum are resistant to this disease. Crape myrtles need little care. An application of mulch and a little spring fertilizer will pave the way for summer flowers. The crape myrtle is our flower of the summer. These plants thrive on sun and heat, withwhich we are blessed in great abundance.These “lilacs of summer” are spectacular when in bloom, with bold, brightcolors. Most have beautiful bark of smooth, shiny gray or with bold streaks of deep red tobrown.No matter what your garden space, you’re likely to find a crape myrtle to fit. Trees 30feet tall make excellent patio specimens or small street trees, while three to four shrubscan fill pots. The in-between sizes work as hedges, border shrubs or strong accent plants.Select Plants the Right Size Selections 5 to 10 feet tall include Acoma, a broad-growing, white-flowering form; and Tonto, with bright red flowers. Dwarfs less than 5 feet tall include Centennial, with bright purple flowers; Chicksaw, with late, pink-lavender flowers; and Victor, with deep red flowers. Most of these are readily available. A few, however, may be hard to find.