Bellini® Raspberry Crape MyrtleLagerstroemia indica ‘Conlagras' (PP# 29,006)
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Lagerstroemia indica ‘Conlagras' (PP# 29,006)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Bellini Raspberry Crape Myrtle is a fabulous dwarf variety growing just 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. It is incredibly versatile, and valuable for edging, mass-planting, small gardens and growing in planter boxes and pots. The rich green foliage is always fresh and clean, and it begins blooming about 3 weeks before other crape myrtles. Regular dead-heading will keep it blooming steadily from June right into September – months of vibrant summer color of the most delicious raspberry pink. Bring your beds to life with this terrific shrub that will grow well for anyone.
Plant your Bellini Raspberry Crape Myrtle in full sun for the most blooms, and grow it in any well-drained soil. Even poor soils and urban gardens give good results, and this plant is drought resistant once established. It has high resistance to powdery mildew, staying clean and fresh through the hottest weather, and it isn’t bothered by other pests, or by deer. Remove spent flower heads as soon as they are over, to encourage reblooming, and trim back in spring as needed.
Few flowering plants are as reliable across such a large part of the country as crape myrtles. They are hardy enough to grow in zone 6, but thrive too all the way into zone 10, loving the heat and sun. The classic varieties come as trees – but it doesn’t stop there. If you haven’t yet met – or grown – the newer dwarf varieties, now is your chance, with the Bellini Raspberry Crape Myrtle. Dwarfs like this open up great new possibilities to enjoy the vibrant colors and long bloom periods that only these plants can bring. Seen from a distance the brilliant raspberry pink of this shrub is like a magnet. Close up, the fascinating ruffled flowers are captivating. So much vibrant color added to your garden, for so long, and for so little work – it’s amazing. Growing just 3 or 4 feet tall and wide, it’s the solution to summer color in smaller spaces, even when the soil is poor and the spot is sunny, hot and dry. The original Bellini is a cocktail of peaches and sparkling wine, and this raspberry twist on that classic has all the freshness and excitement, plus tons of vibrant color. Surely the perfect choice to refresh your summer garden.
The Bellini Raspberry Crape Myrtle is a compact, dwarf, deciduous shrub that will grow rapidly into a dense, bushy plant 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. It forms a broad mound of many branches, each one carrying abundant blooms. The young stems are deep purple-red, maturing to a soft reddish-brown. The oval leaves grow densely along the stems, and they are leathery, smooth, and glossy, about 1½ inches long and an inch wide. They are deep green, turning yellow and orange in fall.
Flowering begins early in this variety, partly because of the small size, and also because of the breeding. Plants will be in full bloom in June, and continue to flower in waves all the way into early fall. Every new stem is topped with a cluster of blooms, and each cluster blooms for about 2 weeks. The individual flowers are over an inch wide, with five flaring petals that are ruffled and waved, with a crepe paper texture. They are a wonderful vibrant shade of deep pink to raspberry red – vibrant, powerful and bright, with a clean and fresh tone. A bush in bloom is simply wonderful, giving your summer garden a powerful color boost you are going to love.
A real breakthrough, the Bellini Raspberry Crape Myrtle is so versatile, and its compact size makes it suitable for every garden, and for growing in planter boxes and pots as well. Use it in the front of shrub beds to keep them lively after the spring season is over. Line a path or driveway with delicious color for month after month. Use it as a low hedge, or to fill awkward narrow spaces – every garden has spots that this plant will transform.
Zones 7 to 10 are perfect for the Bellini Raspberry Crape Myrtle, and it enjoys heat and humidity. It can also be grown in zone 6, and in fact it’s smaller size makes it ideal there, still giving you a flower-filled dwarf shrub, even if all the growth above ground is killed by winter. Mulch for winter with a thick layer of bark or straw and wait until new growth begins before pruning – it can be hard to tell which branches are dead and which are not. Plants in containers can be left outside all winter in zones 8, 9 and 10. In colder zones remove from the pot and plant temporarily in the garden, or store containers in an unheated space – light is not necessary. If you have unheated storage like that, you can also grow this plant in zone 5, in a pot.
Give the Bellini Raspberry Crape Myrtle a place in full sun, as even a little shade reduces blooming. It grows vigorously in any well-drained soil, including poor soils and urban gardens. It is very drought resistant once established, but spring fertilizer and occasional summer watering pays dividends in blooms.
Maintenance and Pruning
The Bellini Raspberry Crape Myrtle resists powdery mildew, so it always stays clean and fresh, never turning dusty and tired looking. The secret to continuous blooming is dead-heading. Remove flower spikes as soon as the last blossoms fall, cutting back to the first full-sized leaf. New growth will sprout from that stem and more blossom heads will form within weeks. Feed plants in containers regularly to keep them vigorous. In spring, trim back the stems to encourage branching, but never prune new shoots before they have bloomed.
The crape myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, has been grown in America for almost 250 years, but dwarf forms are relatively new, and older plants were always tree-like.
Victor M. Watts was a professor of horticulture at the University of Arkansas from 1927 to 1968. In 1962 he bred a bushy crape myrtle called ‘Centennial’, which had bright purple blooms. It was one of the first dwarf varieties. Mike Farrow is a talented and versatile plantsman and breeder. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has his own specialist nursery in Earleville, MD. Around 2006 he sowed some seeds he had collected from a bush of ‘Centennial’, and studied the seedlings that grew. In 2009 he selected one, and named it ‘Conlagras’. In 2018 he was granted a patent on it. Working with Star® Roses and Plants, he released it as the color Raspberry in his Bellini series of dwarf crape myrtles.
A breakthrough in versatility, there is a place in every garden, across the country, for the Bellini Raspberry Crape Myrtle. From pots and planters to hedges and mass planting, every garden will benefit from this rich transfusion of summer and fall color. Order now, because we never seem to be able to source enough plants of this popular variety, which sells out fast.