Pink is the favorite color of many people, and in the garden it really shines. Bright and colorful, but light enough to really stand out, it is hard to get too much pink, and with the Shell Pink™ Black Diamond® Crape Myrtle you get months and months of delicious vibrant pink blooms on a large shrub or small tree that is incredibly easy to grow, even in hot and dry places. This new variety combines rich purple foliage that lasts all season, with large trusses of coral pink flowers, creating a stunning combination and a great way to enjoy color in your garden without effort.
The coral pink flowers are fluffy, with the texture of crepe paper, and they are carried in large clusters, about 6 inches long and 4 inches across. These develop at the ends of each new shoot, and the plant is in more-or-less continuous flowering from mid-June to mid-October in warmer states, with a slightly shorter period of bloom in more northern areas. Each flower cluster has about 15 flowers in it, and they open over a one to two-week period. As soon as the last flowers are fading, new clusters of flowers develop from shoots growing immediately below the old cluster. Continuous blooming can easily be enhanced by removing the flower heads as the last flower fades. This diverts the plants energy from forming seeds to forming new flowers. Towards the end of the season the flower clusters can be left, so that the attractive seed heads develop, which add winter interest to your plants, extending the garden season even further.
Growing Shell Pink™ Black Diamond® Crape Myrtles
The Shell Pink™ Black Diamond® Crape Myrtle is a vigorous, upright shrub reaching 10 or 12 feet in height, and about 8 feet across. It can be grown as a bushy plant, with multiple stems, or trained to have one or a few main trunks and a bushy crown. The leaves are rounded and glossy, and deep reddish-brown to black in color, making a dramatic statement even when the plant is not in leaf. This turns crape myrtle from a summer and fall flowering shrub into an all-season plant, with colorful foliage from spring onwards, even when the plant is not in flower.
Use the Shell Pink™ Black Diamond® Crape Myrtle as a specimen plant in a lawn, or behind taller plants in a bed. A row, planted 4 to 6 feet apart, makes an excellent informal screen or hedge. When growing this way, trim hard in spring, before the new growth, but remember that trimming in summer will reduce or even eliminate flowering, so a more casual approach is better.
Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions
Like all crape myrtle bushes, the Shell Pink™ Black Diamond® Crape Myrtle grows and flowers best in full sun. Any significant shading will reduce flowering. It thrives in hot and dry locations, and once established this plant is very drought resistant. It will grow in any well-drained soil, from sand to clay, including stony and gravelly soils. For those dry, difficult parts of the garden it can’t be beaten.
The Shell Pink™ Black Diamond® Crape Myrtle is unusually hardy, and it will grow reliably in zone 6, as well as in all the hottest zones. In zone 6 there may be some winter damage, but the plant will always come back from the ground, and because flowers are carried on new shoots, it will flower just as profusely and continuously as in hotter areas. Be sure to plant in a very hot and sheltered spot in colder areas. Because it will re-grow from the ground each year, the maximum height will be about 4 or 6 feet in zone 6. Wherever you grow this plant, it can be pruned each year in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. Trim back the stems from the previous year, removing weak and over-crowded stems completely. If you trim back hard, so that only a few inches of the stems remain, then a bushier, shorter and more rounded plant will be the result. You can control the size of this versatile shrub by pruning just a little, or more, as you wish.
Older varieties of crape myrtle can become ugly in summer, when powdery mildew causes a gray-white coating to form on the leaves. The Shell Pink™ Black Diamond® Crape Myrtle is resistant to powdery mildew, as well as to the more serious Cercospora leaf spot disease, so your plants will remain bushy and dense all summer, with clean, glossy foliage which keeps it rich, dark red coloring. Since it is usually free of other pests, this is a super-easy plant to care for, and usually trouble-free.
History and Origins of the Shell Pink™ Black Diamond® Crape Myrtle
The Shell Pink™ Black Diamond® Crape Myrtle was created in 2012 by James Berry, who collected seed from an older, dark-leaf crape myrtle called ‘Ebony Flame’. This earlier variety was one of the first red-leaf crape myrtles, created by Dr. Cecil Pounder, a Research Geneticist at the Thad Cochran Southern Horticulture Laboratory, Poplarville, Mississippi, a division of the US Department of Agriculture’s Research Service. This excellent red flowering plant is available as the Ebony Flame Black Diamond Crape Myrtle. James Berry grew the seeds from this plant, and chose the variety called ‘1LI’ for its beautiful coral-pink blooms, rich foliage color, and vigorous, bushy growth. It was patented in 2017, and it was released as Shell Pink™.
Specialist nursery workers take stem pieces from these plants and turn them into new young plants with exactly the qualities of that original plant. These new red-leaf crape myrtles are taking gardens by storm, and the demand is very high for such easy plants that bring not only vibrant flowers, but also bright foliage, to your garden. Order now, as our stock will soon be gone.