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New Crapemyrtles with Burgundy Leaves from Spring through Fall

Burgundy-leaved crapemyrtle is one of the most exciting breeding accomplishments in years. Unlike previous selections, many new crapemyrtle cultivars have leaves that retain dark burgundy coloration from spring budbreak through fall leaf drop. These plants add bold leaf color to a plant already known for its flower power.
Delta Jazz™ was the first crapemyrtle with burgundy-bronze leaves all summer long. Photo by Gary Knox

Delta Jazz™ was the first crapemyrtle with burgundy-bronze leaves all summer long. Photo by Gary Knox

 

As is typical of many new plant introductions, the new crapemyrtles are grouped and sold in series, most of which are patented and/or trademarked. Delta Jazz™ was the first crapemyrtle with burgundy-bronze leaves all summer long. This year Delta Jazz™, with pink flowers, is being joined by Delta Eclipse™ (purple flowers). Future years will see Delta Breeze™ (lavender flowers) and Delta Flame™ (red). All have burgundy to bronze leaves from spring through fall and are expected to be mid-size, maturing at heights of 8 to 12 feet.

 

Another new series with burgundy leaves confusingly is being sold under two names: the Ebony series and the Black Diamond™ series. ‘Ebony & Ivory’ features white flowers that contrast nicely with dark burgundy leaves on red stems. ‘Ebony Embers’ has red flowers on plants with dark burgundy leaves on purple stems. ‘Ebony Fire’ has flowers that are bright red and its leaves are medium burgundy. ‘Ebony Flame’ has dark red flowers and dark burgundy leaves. Finally, ‘Ebony Glow’ is named for its blush white flowers on dark red stems with dark burgundy leaves. These selections are also sold as Black Diamond™ Pure White, Black Diamond™ Red Hot, Black Diamond™ Crimson Red, Black Diamond™ Best Red and Black Diamond™ Blush, respectively. All are expected to grow 8 feet or more in height (regardless of the name!).

 

'Ebony Fire' is a new crapemyrtle with burgundy leaves and bright red flowers. Photo by Gary Knox

‘Ebony Fire’ is a new crapemyrtle with burgundy leaves and bright red flowers. Photo by Gary Knox

The First Editions® Magic™ series of crapemyrtles includes two new selections with burgundy leaves. Moonlight Magic™ has the darkest burgundy leaves I’ve seen so far. Flowers are white and the burgundy leaves are glossy and narrow on a plant expected to grow to a height of 8 to 10 feet. Maturing at 4 to 6 feet, Midnight Magic™ has leaves that are a dull burgundy while flowers are dark pink. Note that other cultivars in the First Editions® Magic™ series (‘Coral Magic’, ‘Plum Magic’, and ‘Purple Magic’) have green leaves.

These cultivars are too new to know how well they will perform in north Florida and the Gulf Coast. The best place to view these cultivars side by side is at the LSU AgCenter, Hammond Research Station, in Hammond, LA. There, Dr. Allen Owings has developed a beautiful garden where he is evaluating crapemyrtles and many other plants. For more information and to read Dr. Owing’s comments on new crapemyrtles, visit http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/our_offices/research_stations/Hammond/.

All these new cultivars will have the brightest burgundy leaf color when plants are grown in full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sun each day). Any amount of shade will likely result in pale burgundy or burgundy-green leaves, as well as reduced flowering and growth. As with other crapemyrtles, these new cultivars are tolerant of drought, heat, rain, humidity and all but wet soils. When buying crapemyrtle, place the plant in a location where it can grow to its full height without the need to prune it regularly. After planting, sit back and enjoy these crapemyrtles’ bold burgundy foliage as well as the abundance of colorful flowers!

 

1Extension Specialist and Professor of Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida/IFAS, North Florida Research and Education Center, Quincy, Florida. gwknox@ufl.edu.