Colored foliage is widely known to be the best way to bring color into your garden for months and months at a time. The latest plant to become available with colored leaves is the crape myrtle, and the Black Diamond® series is top of the list, with intense red-black leaves that hold their color from spring to leaf-drop. Older crape myrtle with colored leaves were strongly colored in spring, but soon faded to dark green, but all the Black Diamond plants have persistent color all season long. What better flower than white could there be to show off those dramatic leaves? This is exactly the combination found in the remarkable Pure White Black Diamond Crape Myrtle, and it’s an all-round winner.
From early summer to frost, plants of this great variety are covered in beautiful trusses of pure white flowers, each one with a golden-yellow center. Against the dark foliage this combination is simply stunning, and it will take your breath away. The Pure White Black Diamond Crape Myrtle forms a rounded bush, that in just 4 years will be 5 to 6 feet tall and 2 or 3 feet wide. Within a few more years it will reach its ultimate height of 12 feet and be about 8 feet tall, so allow room for its full development when you are planting your new Pure White™ Crape Myrtle.
The foliage of rounded leaves, each 2 inches long, is a dramatic rich burgundy-black, standing out in bright sunlight. The leaves remain red all season long. The white flowers are carried in clusters 6 inches long and 4 inches wide, each with many individual flowers in it, and each cluster lasts about two weeks, before it is rapidly replaced by new flowers. To maximize the flowering, remove old flower heads once the last flowers fall. Cut at the first pair of full-sized leaves, and very quickly new flowers shoots will appear.
Growing Pure White™ Black Diamond® Crape Myrtles
Use the Pure White Black Diamond Crape Myrtle as a specimen – its limited size makes it ideal for smaller spaces. Grown in a row it makes a striking boundary or informal hedge to divide your property. Spaced more widely along a driveway it makes a rich and colorful entrance. It makes the perfect background shrub for other plants, especially those with golden or light-green foliage, or with pink, purple or blue flowers.
Planting and Initial Care
The Pure White Black Diamond Crape Myrtle grows best in full sun, for the strongest foliage color and most prolific flowering. It grows well in any well-drained soil, including sands and gravels, or stony ground. Water regularly during the first season or two, but after that this is a tough, reliable, and very drought-resistant plant. As we expect today, of all crape myrtle varieties, it is also highly resistant to the common diseases like powdery mildew that disfigure older types of crape myrtle – the foliage remains clean and bright all summer, without any spraying or fuss. For such a beautiful plant, it is amazing how easy this tree is to grow. It can be pruned in late winter to maintain a smaller, neater plant, but do not prune in summer, other than removing spent flowers. Trimming in summer will prevent the prolific flowering this tree is known for.
If you live in zone 6, ordinary crape myrtles rarely survive. The Pure White Black Diamond Crape Myrtle is different. The roots and base are reliably winter-hardy. To grow it in zone 6, plant in a sunny, sheltered place, and put mulch over the roots in fall. Some of the branches may die in winter, but the plant will re-sprout from the base. Since the flowers are carried at the ends of new branches, your tree will bloom profusely by mid-summer, and continue into the fall. Wait in spring until you see the new shots emerging, and then cut away the dead branches. Plants growing in zone 6 will usually be 3 to 5 feet tall when flowering.
History and Origins of the Pure White™ Black Diamond® Crape Myrtle
The Pure White Black Diamond Crape Myrtle was created by the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture. It was bred by Dr. Cecil Pounder, a Research Geneticist. The red color came from another crape myrtle called ‘Chocolate Mocha’, combined with several other crape myrtles. The resulting plant – one seedling out of hundreds – was selected for its rich, red leaves and stunning white flowers. Several other color forms were also bred, and they were collected together in the Ebony series. The scientific name of the Pure White Crape Myrtle is ‘Ebony and Ivory’.
The Department of Agriculture passed on the Ebony series of plants to J. Berry Nursery, who in turn created the Black Diamond® series, highlighting all the very best red-leafed crape myrtles. Carefully reproduced from stem pieces, our plants are exact copies of that original seedling that caught Dr. Pounder’s eye. These highly-bred plants are nothing like common crape myrtles you may have grown before – they are vastly superior. At the Tree Center we always offer a wide range of crape myrtles, and our regular customers snap them up. So order now while our limited stock of this outstanding plant remains available – it won’t be for long.