How To Grow and Care For Acoma Crape Myrtle

The Acoma crape myrtle is a hybrid variety of the Lagerstroemia, known by the common name crape (or crepe) myrtle. This particular variety attains a height of up to 10 to 15 feet, remaining more shrub-like in growth habit. It grows about 1 to 2 feet per year and a well-loved crape myrtle can survive for 50 years or more. The Acoma crape myrtle produces only white flowers.

The Acoma crape myrtle is a great option for planting in urban or suburban environments. Its small size makes it ideal for gardens or lawns, or it can be used as part of a commercial landscaping plan. Before planting, make sure that the full-grown tree won’t cause issues on the property since the tree cannot be topped. You cannot cut off the top of the tree to control the height; that will kill the tree (“crape murder,” as it’s known).

Common Name Acoma crape myrtle, Acoma crepe myrtle
Botanical Name Lagerstroemia x ‘Acoma’
Family Lythraceae
Plant Type Tree
Mature Size 2-15 ft. tall, 2-10 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full
Soil Type Well-draining
Soil pH Acidic, neutral
Bloom Time Spring, summer
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 7-9 (USDA)
Native Area Asia, Australia

Acoma Crape Myrtle Care

The Acoma crape myrtle is a rewarding shrub or small tree to cultivate since it produces weeping branches with lush foliage and delicate blooms. While this variety requires abundant sun, it succeeds in a variety of soil conditions and has just basic needs for water or fertilizer.

Described as having a medium rate of growth, you’ll have plenty of time to watch these trees mature. The Acoma crape myrtle will thrive with only occasional pruning of its lower branches.

Light

Full sun is necessary for crape myrtle to bloom to its full potential. These plants are known for their beautiful blooms, and to make the most of the flowering display, ensure that your crape myrtle receives at least six hours of sun each day.

Soil

The crape myrtle is adaptable to varying soil conditions—including loam, clay, or sandy soils, as long as the ground is well-draining. When it comes to soil pH, these plants prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH levels, but they can grow in slightly alkaline soils as well.

Water

When first planted, the crape myrtle will need regular watering as it gets established. However, once mature, these plants have modest water needs and do well with about an inch of water per week.

They have proven to be relatively drought-resistant, but keep in mind that a lack of water during bloom season may result in a less showy display. If possible, supplement rainfall with regular watering if you experience an extended period of dry weather and you don’t want to see your flower production impacted.

Temperature and Humidity

Like other crape myrtle varieties that thrive in the sun and heat, the Acoma crape myrtle does well even in hot climates, and it has a tolerance for humidity or drought.

On the other end of the spectrum, it is hardy in USDA zones 7 to 9, and can generally withstand temperatures down to about zero degrees Fahrenheit successfully.

Fertilizer

For the best blooms, you may need to fertilize your crape myrtle. While these plants are adaptable to even low-nutrient soil conditions, they do require sufficient nitrogen to support bloom production.

If you have soil that is lacking, then you might consider fertilizing your Acoma crape myrtle with a balanced formula—like an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10. The fertilizer can be applied at the start of the growing season and should be distributed immediately after rain or watered sufficiently afterward.

While the right amount of fertilizer can bring out the best in your crape myrtle, too much can have an adverse effect. Be cautious that you don’t supply too many nutrients—doing so can lead to foliage overgrowth and reduced blossoms.

Types of Acoma Crape Myrtle

Acoma crape myrtle is just one plant of a genus containing 50 or so species. You will always end up buying a cultivar or hybrid of a crape myrtle at a nursery but you probably won’t know it because the label may simply say “crape myrtle.” Some of the prettiest crape myrtle tree varieties offer blooms in colors other than white and also vary in form or size. Here are a few types of crape myrtles:

  • ‘Apalachee‘ is lovely with lavender flowers and grows 15 feet tall.
  • ‘Cherokee’, ‘Dynamite’, ‘Red Rocket’, and ‘Cheyenne’ offer red flowers.
  • ‘Seminole’ and ‘Choctaw’ have pink blooms.
  • Tuscarora’ has bright watermelon pink blossoms followed by orange fall color growing to 23 feet.
  • ‘Catawba’ boasts purple blooms and reaches 10 to 15 feet tall and wide.
  • ‘Muskogee’ grows 22 to 25 feet tall and wide with lavender-blue flowers and light gray bark.

Pruning

Keep your Acoma crape myrtle in good form with light pruning; this is best done in the spring before the lush foliage fills the branches.

Since this hybrid variety is known for having a petite form, it won’t need extensive pruning to retain its height, but you may want to clean up low branches on the tree to show off the attractive red-and-white smooth bark.

You can spur the tree on to increased branching by pinching off new growth, which will encourage your crape myrtle to grow fuller and bushier rather than taller. In addition, remove spent blossoms to support further flowering.

Propagating Acoma Crape Myrtle

The most successful way of propagating Acoma crape myrtle is by cuttings. You can either use soft or hardwood cuttings, in addition to root cuttings.

Follow these steps to propagate with cuttings:

  1. Use clean scissors or garden shears to remove hardwood or softwood cuttings. Hardwood cuttings should be about 8 inches in length. Take hardwood cuttings once the tree has become dormant for the year, typically in the late fall. Softwood cuttings are obtained in the spring or summer and should be about 6 inches in length with several nodes.
  2. Plant the cutting in a container with quality potting soil, leaving about 1 inch of the cutting above the soil line.
  3. Maintain soil moisture and position the pot in a location that receives plenty of sun. Softwood cuttings should see new growth in about a month. Hardwood cuttings will grow more slowly but won’t be ready for planting until summer anyway.
  4. Once the cutting has taken root and is showing signs of new growth, it can be planted. Be sure to water generously and position your new plant in a location with abundant light.

How to Grow Acoma Crape Myrtle From Seed

Crape myrtle seed pods are about the size of a marble and should be drying out well on the tree by autumn. Collect them by simply squeezing the seeds out of the pods. Collect them in a glass jar and tuck them away in a cool, dry place for the winter months.

In the spring, choose quart-size pots and fill them with a blend of potting soil and seed-starting mix. The soil should be damp but not wet. Sow two seeds in each pot about 1 inch deep. Place the pot in a sunny window and give the seed about three weeks to germinate; a plastic bag over the pot can help to hold in humidity and keep the soil from drying out. Water if the soil appears to be dry.

Remove the bag when the seedling is 2 or 3 inches tall. Keep the soil damp over the next four to six weeks, or until the plant is about 1 foot in height. At this point, move the pot outdoors to an area that gets a bit of sun but plenty of afternoon shade. Let it acclimate to the outdoors until midsummer, when it’s time to plant the sturdy seedling in well-drained soil.

Overwintering

Once a crape myrtle is established, it will overwinter just fine. For smaller trees, take the time to provide a few inches of mulch to protect the roots, taking care to keep the mulch from touching the tree itself. If you are in a very cold climate, you can protect the tree with a staked burlap sack wrapped around the base to provide insulation from snow and sleet.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

While crape myrtle trees are often subject to powdery mildew, one of the advantages of this hybrid variety is increased resistance to this fungus. However, Acoma trees are still subject to infestation by aphids. While this can produce mold, it isn’t overly threatening or damaging to the tree.

How to Get Acoma Crape Myrtle to Bloom

All varieties of crape myrtle want to bloom prolifically, so when one of these lovely plants isn’t offering spots of color, that’s a problem. Crowded branches can be one of the reasons why the tree isn’t showing flowers; to solve this, prune out the longer branches to allow more sunlight to reach those nearer the core of the tree. However, don’t prune too late in the season, as the tree needs new wood to bloom.

The tree needs generous sunlight to bloom properly, so make sure there are no neighboring trees or structures shading it.

When a plant is not blooming, it can be tempting to add more fertilizer. This can actually lead to fewer blooms on your crape myrtle, as the foliage will thrive on the extra nutrients. Too much nitrogen can lead to an overgrowth of leaves, so ensure that the tree gets plenty of phosphorus. Bone meal sprinkled at the base of the tree can help as well.

Common Problems With Acoma Crape Myrtle

Acoma crape myrtle trees do not have too many problems. But keep an eye out for the following issues and note that even browning does not mean imminent death to the tree.

Brown Leaves

Browning crape myrtle leaves can mean the tree is experiencing drought conditions, or it’s overwatered. Browning leaves in the spring could indicate there was a cold snap that shocked the tree.

Spotted Leaves

Brown spots on the leaves can indicate Cercospora leaf spot disease, which is caused by a type of fungus (Cercospora lythracearum). Prune off the problem areas, which will also promote better air circulation. Some crape myrtles are bred to have better resistance than others to diseases such as Cercospora leaf spot.

FAQ
    • What are alternatives to Acoma crape myrtle?

      There are several trees and shrubs similar to crape myrtle that bring lovely flowers to your landscape, including chaste trees, redbuds, the sweet tea olive tree, or the Chinese parasol tree.

    • Can Acoma crape myrtle grow indoors?

      This shrub or tree has a strong need for bright sunlight, and that might not be possible to replicate in the home; especially with the spreading habit of the roots. Plan to enjoy the seedlings indoors for a bit before planting them outside.

    • What is the difference between Acoma crape myrtle and Natchez crape myrtle?

      Both trees have white blooms and are often confused with one another. Natchez crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia x ‘Natchez’) reaches taller heights of 25 to 30 feet at maturity with nearly as much spread, which is larger than the Acoma crape myrtle.

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