When it comes to stunning ornamental trees, few can rival the enchanting beauty of the Black Diamond Crape Myrtle. With its deep, dark foliage and vibrant blooms, this cultivar has captured the hearts of garden enthusiasts and professional landscapers alike. In this article, we will delve into the captivating characteristics and growing requirements of the Black Diamond Crape Myrtle, revealing why it is a prized gem in any garden.
1. Origins and Overview
The Black Diamond Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei ‘Black Diamond’) is a hybrid variety developed by Plant Introductions Inc. and marketed by J. Berry Nursery. This striking cultivar is the result of crossbreeding between the common crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and the Japanese crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia fauriei). The breeders aimed to create a plant with intense flower colouration and unique foliage, and they succeeded brilliantly.
2. Stunning Features
2.1 Striking Foliage
The Black Diamond Crape Myrtle’s most prominent feature is its captivating foliage. Unlike traditional crape myrtles, which have green leaves, this cultivar exhibits deep, almost black foliage. The dark maroon or burgundy leaves create a stunning contrast against the vibrant blooms, providing an exquisite backdrop to any garden landscape. The foliage also retains its colour throughout the growing season, ensuring year-round visual interest.
2.2 Vibrant Blooms
The Black Diamond Crape Myrtle produces abundant, show-stopping flower clusters in vibrant shades of red, hot pink, and purple. The blossoms are rich in colour, and their petals are crinkled, adding texture and depth to the overall display. These long-lasting blooms appear from early summer through autumn, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, making it a haven for pollinators.
3. Varieties and Cultivars
The Black Diamond Crape Myrtle comes in a range of cultivars, each with its own distinct characteristics. Some notable varieties include:
3.1 ‘Best Red’
This cultivar showcases deep red blooms, making it an eye-catching centerpiece in any garden. ‘Best Red’ has an upright growth habit, reaching a height of about 10-12 feet (3-3.6 metres), and exhibits excellent disease resistance.
3.2 ‘Crimson Red’
With its brilliant crimson-red flowers, ‘Crimson Red’ adds a burst of colour to any landscape. It has a compact growth habit, reaching a height of 8-10 feet (2.4-3 metres), making it suitable for smaller gardens or containers.
For those who prefer a softer color palette, ‘Blush’ is a delightful option. Its delicate, light pink blooms create a more subtle and elegant look. ‘Blush’ typically grows to a height of 8-10 feet (2.4-3 metres), and its compact size makes it suitable for various garden settings.
4. Cultivation and Care
4.1 Planting and Location
The Black Diamond Crape Myrtle thrives in full sun, requiring at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. It is adaptable to various soil types but prefers well-draining soil. When planting, ensure the hole is twice as wide as the root ball to allow for proper root development. Provide adequate spacing between each tree to allow for air circulation and optimal growth.
4.2 Watering and Fertilisation
Regular watering is essential during the tree’s establishment period, but once established, it becomes relatively drought tolerant. However, for the best performance and abundant blooms, it is recommended to provide regular water during dry spells. Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree helps retain moisture and regulate soil temperature.