Ruffled Red Magic Crape MyrtleLagerstroemia hybrid 'PIILAG-VII' (PP#27,303)
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Lagerstroemia hybrid 'PIILAG-VII' (PP#27,303)
Outdoor Growing zone
The Ruffled Red Magic™ Crape Myrtle absolutely blew us away, with its powerful red-orange blooms. Their vibrant coloring is emphasized by the way the carnation-like flowers hide the yellow stamens. The rich green foliage is a perfect background, and in fall the leaves turn wonderful shades of orange, yellow and red. Grow this medium-sized shrub as a stunning lawn specimen or at the back of a bed. Plant it as a screen or against a fence or wall. You can even grow it in a large tub for color anywhere.
The Ruffled Red Magic™ Crape Myrtle thrives in full sun, and enjoys well-drained soil, even drier and poor soils. Don’t plant in wet places. This variety is resistant to leaf diseases, like powdery mildew or leaf spot, so the foliage is always clean and green. Insect pests are rarely problems and deer usually ignore it. A simple trim or harder pruning is spring, and removing the first spent flower heads, is all the care needed.
Sometimes we pay a lot of attention to foliage colors and plant form when choosing plants, and we can forget the real magic of plants – their flowers. If you are a lover of brilliant flower color, then you will love the Ruffled Red Magic™ Crape Myrtle. It has outstanding blossoms, in huge clusters of up to 50 blooms, and they are a remarkable brilliant red-orange color that will stun you with its beauty. They have a unique form that hides the yellow stamens usually visible in crape myrtle, so nothing dilutes the petal color, giving you an intensity that you won’t believe could be so good. A medium-sized shrub that will soon reach 12 feet if you let it, this is a ‘blow you away’ lawn specimen that will make your garden famous. The fall foliage colors are outstanding too, so this is a shrub that color lovers shouldn’t live without.
The Ruffled Red Magic Crape Myrtle is a medium-sized upright shrub which will reach 12 feet tall within a few years, with a width of about 8 feet. It can be kept smaller by annual pruning. The older stems and branches have flaking bark in a range of colors, from tan and beige to gray, which makes the winter stems attractive. The leaves are oval and smooth, with a lustrous glossy surface. They are about 1½ inches long and 1 inch wide, and the bush is very leafy, with foliage almost to the ground. Older plants will become more tree-like, particularly if they are not pruned regularly. Leaf color is a warm, rich green and in fall the leaves turn glowing shades of orange, yellow and dark red – a great boost to the fall color in your garden.
Flowering begins in June and continues steadily into September. The flowers are in bunches of 30 to 50 at the ends of every new stem, and these bunches are between 4 and 5 inches long, creating real impact. The inch-wide flowers have a ‘crepe-paper’ texture and in this particular variety they have a unique form that encloses the stamens, rather than leaving them visible. This makes the flowers look a little like carnations. Since the yellow stamen color tends to dilute the impact of the petal color in most varieties, the result is a much more intense color effect than is normally seen – a real color punch. The flowers are a powerful and vibrant red with orange overtones and this shrub really delivers on color. Flowers open in succession, and each cluster lasts about 2 weeks. When the flowers have fallen interesting seed heads develop, with six-sided, tan-colored seed pods.
This shrub is the perfect size for a showy lawn specimen, or for the back of your shrub borders. It would also be very effective as a screen, or planted against a wall of your home, or along a fence. Use it anywhere you want color impact. It can also be grown for several years in a large tub or planter.
The Ruffled Red Magic Crape Myrtle is fully hardy from zone 7 to zone 9. It is root-hardy in zone 6, meaning it will re-sprout after winter injury, growing to 3 or 4 feet tall. Since flowers are carried on young stems, plants in zone 6 will still flower profusely.
Like all crape myrtles, this one should be planted in full sun for the most blooms. It grows well in any well-drained soil, and that includes poorer, dry soils, because this plant has very good drought resistance once well-established.
To maximize flowering, it is advisable to remove the spent flower clusters once the last petals have fallen. This will encourage the development of more clusters. These second clusters can be left until the spring pruning, as many gardeners find the seed pods an attractive winter feature.
With its naturally bushy look, you can leave the Ruffled Red Magic Crape Myrtle to grow naturally. Some spring pruning is recommended. This can be light, just removing the ends of the branches a little, or more severe, cutting back the stems of the previous year to just a few inches in length – or anything in between, depending on your needs. All pruning and trimming should be done before the new growth begins, and avoid trimming during summer, as this will remove potential flower clusters and reduce the impact of this plant significantly.
Unlike old-fashioned crape myrtles, the plants in the Magic series all have excellent resistance to powdery mildew and Cercospora leaf spot – common diseases of crape myrtles that make them look less attractive in summer. This plant will always look great, with clean, glossy leaves that don’t yellow and drop in summer.
Michael Dirr is one of America’s greatest plantsmen and breeders, with his team at Plant Introductions, Inc. Watkinsville, Georgia, created the Magic series of crape myrtles. For this variety they crossed two existing varieties of Magic crape myrtles – Red Rooster (‘Piilag-III’) and Red Rocket (‘Whit-IV’). In 2010 they selected one of the seedlings for its unique flower form and brilliant coloring. They patented it in 2016 as ‘PIILAG-VII’. Bailey Nurseries have added it to the Magic series as Ruffled Red Magic™, part of their First Editions® collection of new plants for our gardens.
We love having this great plant on the farm, but we know we won’t be able to enjoy them for long. No-one can resist those wonderful flowers and stunning color, so place your order now, because this is a bush that soon won’t be with us anymore.