Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia L.) are endemic to Asia (southern China, southeast Asia, and Japan) where they have been cultivated for timber and as major flowering ornamental plants for ≥1500 years (Huxley, 1992; Pooler, 2006; Pounders et al., 2013; Wang et al., 2014). They were introduced to Europe in the mid-1600s and subsequently to the southeastern United States in late 1700s (Egolf and Andrick, 1978; Pooler, 2006). Crape myrtles, in particular Lagerstroemia indica L. and L. indica × L. fauriei Koehne hybrids, are currently popular flowering shrubs and small trees in U.S. landscapes in regions with hot summers in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 6–10 (USDA Hardiness Zone Map, 2009, AHS Heat Zone Map, 2009). Reasons for their popularity include ease of production, long-lasting summer bloom, diverse flower colors, growth forms, and striking exfoliating bark on smooth multistemmed trunks (Pooler, 2006; Pounders et al., 2013).
Reported here are three new Lagerstroemia cultivars, Miss Gail, Miss Frances, and Miss Sandra, which were released by the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and registered in 2015 with the U.S. National Arboretum. ‘Miss Gail’ stands out because of its superior purple flower color, ‘Miss Frances’ because of its superior red flower color along with an attractive green foliage, and ‘Miss Sandra’ because of its elite purple flower color and tight vertical growth habit. All three cultivars were field grown and evaluated for 9 years and showed tolerance to common crape myrtle diseases such as bacterial spot, powdery mildew, Cercospora leaf spot, and “Rabbit Tracks” disorder.
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