How to grow Acoma Crape Myrtle: Benefits, Uses, Care & gardening tips


Crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica) are flowering trees that grow as three- to 10-foot evergreen shrubs in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9 and as 15- to 30-foot trees in USDA zone 8, depending on cultivar. Acoma is a dwarfed crape myrtle with a mat-forming habit and an interesting branching pattern. The Acoma Crape Myrtle may be the first dwarf crepe myrtle discovered by the public, but it has been around for at least 50 years.

Acoma Crape Myrtle Description

The word “acoma” comes from the Kiowa Indian language and was used to describe the crossing of two paths, which implies that multiple trunks grow together. This crape myrtle has very showy bark because, as it matures, the older bark flakes off to reveal a beautiful yellow-orange inner trunk. The tree forms an attractive vase shape with many small branches at its base and only one or two larger branches growing up from near ground level.

Acoma Crape Myrtle grows in a clump until it reaches 10 feet high and wide after about 10 years. Full-size trees reach 15 to 30 feet (5 to 9 m) in height with similar spread; however, they may be kept smaller by pruning. Full-grown trees grow in an upright oval shape with a canopy at the top tapering down to branches lower on the tree. The tree has pink flower clusters, 2 inches (5 cm) long, in late summer and fall.

Acoma Crape Myrtle Hardy or Zone?

Crape myrtle trees are hardy in USDA zones 7 through 9. Dwarf cultivars such as the Acoma crape myrtle reach 8 feet tall and spread about 10 feet wide after 10 years of growth. They grow best in full sun but may also grow well in partial shade. This crape myrtle is an excellent choice for colder climates because it thrives even though it is not fully hardy and its smaller size fits better into landscaping plans than full-size trees.

Acoma Crape Myrtle Soil and Water Requirements

This crape myrtle prefers soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0, but it can survive in more acidic or alkaline soils as well. It tolerates drought and grows best in loamy or silty soils that drain well and have good air circulation to prevent fungal diseases. Acoma crape myrtles grow slowly, so it is important not to overfertilize with rich fertilizer or compost because this may encourage excess growth, which can lead to problems such as fungal disease later on. It also requires regular watering during its first two years of growth for the best results.

Acoma crape myrtles are commonly grafted onto ‘Natchez’ or ‘Tuscarora’ rootstock.

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Acoma Crape Myrtle Uses

This crape myrtle is an excellent choice for use as a flowering tree because of its large flowers and compact size. These features make it an interesting specimen plant, especially when used with other plants that contrast sharply in color or form. For example, you can place Acoma against blue-green junipers (Juniperus chinensis ‘Limeglow’) to draw out the bright colors of both plants for a dramatic effect. It also does well when paired with grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ for an unusual texture contrast.

Acoma is a great choice for use as a container plant because of its small size and attractive form, which does not trap water or cause problems for drainage. It also is tolerant of being moved indoors during the winter months if needed.

Acoma Crape Myrtle Growing Tips

Plant your Acoma crape myrtle in well-drained soil to help prevent fungal disease problems. Trim it twice yearly—in early spring before flower buds appear and after flowering—to encourage bushiness, remove dead lower branches and maintain its shape. Allowed to develop into full-size trees, this crape myrtle would need regular pruning to maintain its shape and remain healthy.

Acoma Crape Myrtle Pruning and Training Tips

To place this crape myrtle in full sun, plant it in a raised bed with lower than average soil. The taller your Acoma grows, the more attractive it will be to help keep its shape. If necessary, support the branches with wooden or wire supports when they become too heavy for the trunk to hold up. This crape myrtle has a weeping habit that works well in formal landscapes such as masses planted behind low walls or fences; however, if you wish for your tree to branch out and form a denser canopy, you can remove some of the central branches when young and tie the side branches to a trellis or wire support.

Acoma Crape Myrtle Diseases and Insects

Acoma crape myrtle suffers from few disease problems. If you have noticed dieback in your tree, check the lower trunk for rot that may be caused by water collecting around the base of the plant or poor drainage. Remove any deadwood or infected areas to keep this fungus-like disease from spreading to other tree limbs. You can also make sure no standing water collects around the roots during periods of heavy rainfall, which could cause root rot fungal diseases like Phytophthora. Prune out diseased wood immediately when you notice it to prevent it from infecting healthy tissue inside the tree.

Acoma Crape Myrtle Harvest, Care and Preservation

Harvest Acoma crape myrtle leaves in the spring by clipping off young leaves at the base of each branch. Dry them quickly before storing them between two paper towels inside a resealable plastic bag in your refrigerator. Drying leaves is not recommended because they are more likely to develop mold while drying on trays indoors. If you want to preserve Acoma crape myrtles for future use, choose cuttings taken from healthy young wood throughout the summer months when new growth appears. Store them in dry peat moss inside a sealed plastic bag in your refrigerator until you are ready to plant them outdoors again next spring.

Acoma Crape Myrtle Interesting Facts

There are several cultivars of Acoma crape myrtle, all known for their attractive form and flowers. ‘Natchez’ is a smaller variety with a bushy habit and bright red blooms. The large flower panicles on this plant make it a good choice for attracting hummingbirds to your yard or garden beds. ‘Acoma Pink’ has soft pink flowers that have a hint of lavender in the center of each bloom. This plant also has variegated leaves that turn green as they mature to white along the edges, giving them an interesting texture contrast against the straight trunk. In addition to these two varieties, White River Gardens many other cultivars of Acoma crape myrtle with various colors and growth habits. All are attractive in different ways and make great additions to your yard.

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