Indulgence® Raspberry Gelato Crape MyrtleLagerstroemia hybrid 'DJ 06-14' (PP# 31,558)
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Lagerstroemia hybrid 'DJ 06-14' (PP# 31,558)
Outdoor Growing zone
Indulgence® Raspberry Gelato Crape Myrtle is a medium-sized deciduous shrub, growing rapidly to between 8 and 10 feet tall, and about 6 feet wide. It is densely covered in small glossy leaves that emerge in spring a fabulous deep purple-red, and hold their rich color for the rest of the season – no fading or browning. The 8-inch tall flower heads have up to 200 blooms in them, of a delicious raspberry-pink color. A really dynamic color effect is guaranteed. After dead-heading it will rebloom after a few weeks, meaning blossoms from June to September. Grow it for bright color anywhere in your garden, especially in dry areas and poor soil.
Full sun keeps the Indulgence® Raspberry Gelato Crape Myrtle flowering profusely, and it grows vigorously even in poor soils and hot, dry conditions. Once established it is very drought resistant. It has been bred to be unaffected by powdery mildew or cercospora leaf spot, so it always looks fresh and bright. Prune as needed in early spring, and avoid trimming in summer.
Go ahead – indulge yourself – you know you want to. Crape myrtles really are an indulgence – but an indulgence in easy, no problem gardening, especially when you choose modern, disease-resistant varieties that give you wonderful blooming combined with bold foliage colors. Hm, sounds exactly like the Indulgence® Raspberry Gelato Crape Myrtle to me. Exactly the color of everyone’s favorite flavor (except for chocolate), the big, raspberry-pink flowers are the largest yet in colored-leaf crape myrtles. The bold, deep purple leaves are the best yet too, and with some dead-heading you can enjoy two full crops of bloom, giving flowers from June to September. Growing only to 10 feet tall, and resistant to leaf diseases, it won’t crowd you out, even in a smaller town garden. Welcome to modern, care-free, colorful gardening that leaves you free to relax, chill out, and yes, eat all the ice-cream you want.
The Indulgence® Raspberry Gelato Crape Myrtle is an upright, vigorous deciduous shrub, growing about 18 inches a year, and topping-out at between 8 and 10 feet tall and no more than 8 feet wide. Depending on how it is pruned it can be a bushy shrub to the ground, or more like a short tree. Its natural bushiness even means you can grow it with very little pruning and still have great results. Young stems are dark purple-black, turning yellow-brown to olive-brown as they mature and age. Older trunks have attractive, reddish-brown bark that sheds to reveal mixed tones. The leaves are profuse and closely packed along the stems. They are smooth and glossy, about 2 inches long and 1 inch wide. From spring to fall the leaves are consistently a dark, rich true purple-red, with none of the brown tones that are not so attractive in many older ‘purple’ leaf crape myrtles.
Flower clusters develop at the ends of every new stem, and by June the first blooms are opening. Each pyramidal cluster is 8 inches long and 6 inches wide – much bigger than seen in other dark-leaves forms. Flowers are produced over about 4 weeks, and if you remove the spent flower heads, 6 weeks later your bush will bloom all over again, and still have flowers in September. The amazing flowers are produced in abundance, with up to 200 in each head, and each one is a ruffled delight, with papery, frilly petals that are an absolutely delicious shade of bright raspberry pink. A plant in bloom is a knockout – and this bush blooms like crazy. If you don’t remove the second crop of flowers, interesting yellow-brown seed heads develop that are a fascinating feature during the winter months.
This stunning shrub – so colorful both in and out of bloom – is a great feature for anywhere in your garden. Plant it on a lawn, or in a bed, around your home or out in the garden. It thrives in hot, difficult spots, so turn ‘difficult’ into ‘delicious’ with incredible ease. It can also be grown in tubs, brightening terraces, patios and around your pool. There is hardly a spot in the garden where the Indulgence® Raspberry Gelato Crape Myrtle won’t be perfect for.
Like other crape myrtles, this one thrives in warmer zones. It will grow in zone 6, and even if there is some winter damage, blooming is not affected, although the plant will not grow as tall. From zone 7 onwards through all the hottest places, this is a perfect choice. Trees in planters and tubs can be left outdoors all winter in zones 8 and higher. In cooler zones, slip it out of the pot and plant temporarily in a bed, or place it in a cool shed or garage for the coldest months. Don’t store it in a warm place.
Sun, sun and more sun is what the Indulgence® Raspberry Gelato Crape Myrtle loves, and even a little shade will reduce blooming. Any ordinary garden soil is fine, and this plant will grow well even in poor, dry soils – just avoid anywhere wet. Of course, a richer soil and some watering will give the lushest results, but this is definitely a plant that needs no care, once it is established.
Water your new plant a couple of times a week for the first few months. After that, it is drought-resistant and tolerates long periods of dry conditions. This plant has been bred to resist both powdery mildew and cercospora leaf spot, so the foliage always stays clean and attractive. Pests are rare, so there is nothing to worry about, and deer normally leave crape myrtles alone.
Bred to be full and compact, you don’t need to prune, but some attention in spring will give optimal results. Prune before the leaves emerge, removing some of the growth from the previous summer, and any older stems, if you are trying to keep it small and bushy. Removing most of the stem will give fewer, but the largest flower clusters, but always leave a few inches of the stem, so that new growth will come out quickly.
Crape Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, has a long history in the south, and it has been a big hit in gardens ever since it was brought to Charleston in 1786, by the French explorer and botanist André Michaux. Although native to China, he brought it over from England, where it had been introduced in 1759. Because of leaf-disease issues, modern plants are hybrids, involving Lagerstroemia fauriei.
Michael Dirr, a professor at the University of Georgia, is America’s most well-known horticulturist. His texts are read by every student in landscaping, and he is also a prolific and successful breeder. Working with another professor, Donglin Zhang, they collected seed from a variety called ‘Chocolate Mocha’, and in 2014 from among the seedlings they selected one that had much stronger leaf coloring and bigger bloom heads than the parent plant. They named it `DJ 06-14` and in 2020 they received a patent for it, to benefit the University. To reach a wide gardening audience they marketed it through Star® Roses and Plants, under the trademark name of Indulgence® Raspberry Gelato.
Early purple-leaf crape myrtles were often greenish or brownish, and had small flower heads. The Indulgence® Raspberry Gelato Crape Myrtle is amazing, because the color is so strong and reliable, and the bloom heads are huge. Don’t wait to add it to your garden, because no one else is waiting, and these great plants will be gone as fast as ice cream on a summer’s day.