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Black Diamond Crape Myrtles: 6 Most Popular Varieties

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Black Diamond Crape Myrtles

What is Black Diamond Crape Myrtles?

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles is a flowering tree that produces showy, dark-colored blooms. They are a hybrid of crape myrtle, a famous ornamental tree native to Asia and widely grown in the United States.
The Black Diamond variety is known for its striking, almost black foliage and deep red or pink flowers, which contrast beautifully with the dark leaves.
These relatively small and compact trees make them well-suited for smaller gardens or as container plants. They are also tolerant of heat, drought, and disease, making them a popular choice for landscapes in warmer regions.
Why are they so popular among gardeners?
 

Firstly, their striking, dark foliage and vibrant flowers make them an eye-catching addition to any garden or landscape. They are often used as a focal point or to add color and interest to an area.

Secondly, Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are relatively low-maintenance and are tolerant of heat, drought, and disease. This makes them ideal for gardeners who want a beautiful and easy-to-care-for tree.

Finally, Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are relatively small and compact, which makes them well-suited for smaller gardens or as a container plants. They are also available in a range of sizes, from small shrubs to larger trees, which gives gardeners a lot of flexibility in how they use them in their landscapes.

History and Origin of Black Diamond Crape Myrtles

How were they created?

 Black Diamond Crape Myrtles were created through a hybridization process. The exact methods and parent plants used to create this variety are not publicly disclosed. The Black Diamond is a patented brand name of a particular cultivar developed by a private company.

 

However, it is known that the Black Diamond variety was selectively bred from other crape myrtle varieties with desirable traits, such as dark foliage and vibrant blooms.

The process likely involved cross-pollination, in which the pollen from one plant is transferred to the flowers of another, resulting in new seedlings with the desired characteristics.

Over time, the most promising seedlings were selected and further propagated to create a stable and uniform plant variety. This selective breeding and propagation process has been used for centuries to create new plant varieties with desirable traits and is a common practice in horticulture.

Who developed the first Black Diamond Crape Myrtle?

The Black Diamond Crape Myrtle was first developed by a private company called J. Berry Nursery in Grand Saline, Texas. The nursery is a family-owned business specializing in developing new plant varieties.
 
The exact methods and parent plants used to create the Black Diamond variety are not publicly disclosed, as the cultivar is a patented brand name of J. Berry Nursery.
 
However, the company states that the Black Diamond Crape Myrtle resulted from many years of selective breeding and testing and was developed to offer a unique and beautiful ornamental tree that was easy to care for and tolerant of heat, drought, and disease.
 
Since its introduction, the Black Diamond Crape Myrtle has become popular among gardeners and landscapers for its striking appearance and low-maintenance characteristics.

Characteristics of Black Diamond Crape Myrtles

Growth habit

 
Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are relatively small trees with a compact growth habit. They typically grow to a height of 10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.7 meters) and have a spread of 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters). This makes them well-suited for smaller gardens or as a container plant.

 

The trees have a multi-stemmed, upright growth habit with a rounded or vase-shaped canopy. They produce dark green leaves that are typically 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) long, and the new growth has a reddish tint. The Black Diamond variety is known for its striking, almost black foliage, which provides a dramatic backdrop for the vibrant flowers.

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles bloom in mid to late summer and produce large clusters of deep red or pink flowers. The flowers are typically 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) in diameter and have a crepe-paper-like texture. They are followed by small, brown capsules that contain the tree’s seeds.

Overall, the growth habit of Black Diamond Crape Myrtles is relatively low-maintenance, and they are known for their drought and disease tolerance. However, like all trees, they will benefit from regular pruning and maintenance to promote healthy growth and maintain their shape.

Disease resistance

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are known for their tolerance to certain diseases, making them popular among gardeners and landscapers. Some conditions they are resistant to include powdery mildew and leaf spot, which are common problems for many crape myrtle varieties.

 

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that causes a white or grayish powder to develop on the leaves and other plant parts. It can weaken the plant and make it more susceptible to other diseases and pests. Leaf spot is another fungal disease that causes circular or irregular spots to develop on the leaves, which can eventually cause the leaves to drop off.

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles also tolerates heat and drought, everyday stresses that can weaken plants and make them more susceptible to disease. However, like all trees, they may still be vulnerable to other pests and diseases, especially if they are stressed or not correctly cared for.

Regular maintenance, such as pruning, watering, and fertilization, can help to promote healthy growth and reduce the risk of disease.

Types of Black Diamond Crape Myrtles

Black Diamond Crape Myrtle with Pink Flowers
Black Diamond Crape Myrtle with Pink Flowers

Several types of Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are available, each with unique characteristics and attributes.

Here are some of the most popular styles:

  1. Black Diamond Best Red – This variety features deep red flowers that contrast beautifully with the tree’s dark foliage. It has a compact growth habit and reaches a height of 10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.7 meters).
  2. Black Diamond Blush – This variety produces large clusters of soft pink flowers that gradually deepen in color as they mature. It has a similar growth habit to Black Diamond Best Red.
  3. Black Diamond Crimson Red – This variety features vibrant crimson red flowers and has a slightly more upright growth habit than other Black Diamond varieties.
  4. Black Diamond Mystic Magenta – This variety has striking magenta-colored flowers with dark centers and produces an abundant display of blooms throughout the summer. It has a compact growth habit and reaches 10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.7 meters).
  5. Black Diamond Pure White – This variety produces pure white flowers that stand out against the tree’s dark foliage. It has a compact growth habit and reaches 10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.7 meters).
  6. Black Diamond Shell Pink – This variety produces delicate shell pink flowers that are slightly lighter in color than Black Diamond Blush. It has a similar growth habit to other Black Diamond varieties.

Each Black Diamond Crape Myrtle variety offers a unique combination of color, growth habit, and disease resistance, making them a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers.

They are relatively low-maintenance and easy to care for, making them a great addition to any garden or landscape.

Pure White Black Diamond Crape Myrtle
Pure White Black Diamond Crape Myrtle

Planting and Growing Black Diamond Crape Myrtles

Best planting time

The best time to plant Black Diamond Crape Myrtles is in the late fall or early spring when the weather is cooler and the tree has less stress. Growing in the fall is often preferred in warm climates, allowing the tree to establish its roots before the hot summer months.

 

It’s important to avoid planting Black Diamond Crape Myrtles during extreme heat or drought, as this can stress the tree and make it more susceptible to disease and other problems.

Additionally, planting during the summer can make it more challenging to keep the tree adequately watered and hydrated, impacting its growth and health.

When planting Black Diamond Crape Myrtles, choosing a well-draining location that receives full sunlight for at least six hours per day is crucial. The tree should be planted in a hole roughly two to three times wider than the root ball and at the same depth as it was growing in its container.

Once planted, the tree should be watered deeply and regularly, especially during the first few months after planting, to help it establish its roots and ensure healthy growth.

Soil requirements

 
Black Diamond Crape Myrtles prefer well-draining, slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5. They can tolerate various soil types, including clay, loam, and sand, but they do best in soil rich in organic matter and nutrients.

 

Before planting, it’s a good idea to amend the soil with compost or other organic matter to improve its fertility and structure. This can help promote healthy root growth and ensure the tree has access to the nutrients it needs to thrive.

It’s also essential to ensure the soil is well-draining, as Black Diamond Crape Myrtles can be susceptible to root rot if it is too wet or poorly drained. If the soil in the planting area is heavy or compacted, it may be necessary to amend it with sand or other materials to improve drainage.

In addition to soil quality, it’s vital to ensure the tree has access to adequate water and nutrients. Regular fertilization and watering, especially during drought, can help ensure healthy growth and development.

Watering and fertilizing

Watering and fertilizing are both important factors in the health and growth of Black Diamond Crape Myrtles.

Watering

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles prefer evenly moist, well-draining soil. While they tolerate drought, they do best with regular, deep watering during dry periods. Newly planted trees will require more frequent watering until they become established.

Generally, watering deeply and less frequently is better than giving the tree frequent shallow watering. This will encourage deep root growth and help the tree to be more drought-tolerant in the long term.

Fertilizing

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles benefit from regular fertilization, which can help to promote healthy growth and abundant flowering. A balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 or 12-12-12, can be applied in the spring once the tree shows signs of new growth.

Alternatively, a slow-release fertilizer can be used in the early spring or late fall. It’s important not to over-fertilize, as this can lead to excessive growth and reduced flowering.

It’s also essential to avoid fertilizing too late in the growing season, as this can encourage late-season growth that may not have time to harden off before winter. This can make the tree more vulnerable to damage from frost or cold temperatures.

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are relatively low-maintenance trees requiring minimal care beyond regular watering and fertilization. They can provide years of beautiful blooms and vibrant colors in the garden or landscape with proper care

Pruning and training

Pruning and training are essential for maintaining the health and appearance of Black Diamond Crape Myrtles.

 

Pruning

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles benefit from annual pruning to promote healthy growth and flowering. The best time to prune is in late winter or early spring before the tree begins to put out new development.

This lets you see the tree’s structure and remove any dead, damaged, or crossing branches. Pruning also helps to promote a more open canopy, which allows better air circulation and light penetration, reducing the risk of disease.

When pruning, it’s essential to make clean cuts with sharp pruning shears or a saw. Avoid cutting into the branch’s collar, damaging the tree and increasing the disease risk. For larger branches, use a three-step pruning method to avoid tearing the bark or damaging the tree.

Training

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles can be trained to a single trunk or to multiple trunks, depending on your preference. When planting, removing any suckers or shoots from the tree’s base is a good idea to promote a single trunk. If you prefer a multi-trunked tree, leave several shoots to grow and develop into separate trunks.

As the tree grows, you may need to stake or tie it to prevent it from leaning or bending. Be careful not to tie the tree too tightly, as this can damage the bark and reduce the flow of nutrients to the tree. Check the ties regularly and adjust them as needed.

With proper pruning and training, Black Diamond Crape Myrtles can develop into healthy, attractive trees that provide years of beautiful blooms and color in the garden or landscape.

Landscaping Ideas with Black Diamond Crape Myrtles

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are versatile trees used in various landscaping settings.

Here are some landscaping ideas to consider:

  1. Container gardening: Black Diamond Crape Myrtles can be grown in containers, ideal for small patios, balconies, or other limited spaces. Choose a container that is at least 15-20 gallons in size, with good drainage. Fill the container with a well-draining potting mix and water regularly to moisten the soil. You can add other plants or flowers to the container for interest.
  2. Hedge planting: Black Diamond Crape Myrtles can create a colorful hedge, ideal for a privacy screen or windbreak. Plant the trees in a row, spacing them 5-6 feet apart, and prune them regularly to maintain a desired height and shape. This creates a stunning backdrop for other plants and flowers in the landscape.
  3. Foundation planting: Black Diamond Crape Myrtles can be planted near the foundation of a house or other building, where they can provide color and interest throughout the year. Choose a location that receives full sun and has well-draining soil. Plant the trees at least 3-4 feet away from the foundation to allow for proper airflow and prevent damage to the building.
  4. Specimen planting: Black Diamond Crape Myrtles can be a focal point in the landscape, drawing attention to a particular area or feature. Plant the tree in a prominent location near a walkway or entrance, and allow it to grow naturally. This creates a stunning display of color and texture that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
  5. Mass planting: Black Diamond Crape Myrtles can create a mass planting, ideal for large areas such as parks, commercial properties, or other public spaces. Plant the trees in groups, spacing them 10-12 feet apart, and prune them regularly to maintain a desired height and shape. This creates a dramatic display of color that is sure to impress.

Black Diamond Crape Myrtle Care

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are generally low-maintenance trees, but proper care is essential for promoting healthy growth and preventing pests and diseases.

Here are some care tips to keep your Black Diamond Crape Myrtles in top condition:

  1. Pest control: Black Diamond Crape Myrtles can be vulnerable to several pests, including aphids, scale insects, and spider mites. Regular inspection of your trees is essential to catch any pest problems early on. Treat the tree with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil if you notice signs of infestation, such as yellowing leaves or sticky residue. Follow the instructions on the product label carefully to avoid damaging the tree or harming beneficial insects.
  2. Disease prevention and management: Black Diamond Crape Myrtles can be susceptible to several diseases, including powdery mildew and Cercospora leaf spot. To prevent these diseases, avoid overhead watering and plant your trees in a location with good air circulation and full sun. Treat the tree with a fungicide if you notice signs of illness, such as white powdery spots on the leaves or brown spots with yellow halos. Follow the instructions on the product label carefully to avoid damaging the tree or harming beneficial insects.
  3. Winter protection: Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are hardy in USDA zones 7-9 but may need some protection in colder climates. In areas where temperatures regularly dip below freezing, apply a layer of mulch around the tree’s base to insulate the roots and protect them from frost damage. You can also cover the tree with burlap or frost cloth to protect the branches from cold temperatures and winter winds.

Black Diamond Crape Myrtle vs. Other Crape Myrtles

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles differ from other crape myrtle cultivars in several ways:

  1. Differences in appearance: Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are known for their dark foliage and vibrant blooms, which range from deep red to purple. In contrast, traditional crape myrtle cultivars come in various colors, including white, pink, lavender, and red. Black Diamond Crape Myrtles have a more compact growth habit and tend to stay smaller than traditional crape myrtles.
  2. Differences in growth habit: Black Diamond Crape Myrtles have a compact growth habit and tend to stay smaller than traditional crape myrtles. They typically grow to 10-12 feet, ideal for more miniature landscapes or container gardens. On the other hand, conventional crape myrtles can grow up to 30 feet tall and 20 feet wide, making them better suited for more significant landscapes.
  3. Differences in disease resistance: Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are known for their superior disease resistance, especially to powdery mildew, a common problem for traditional crape myrtles. Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are also less prone to leaf spot and other fungal diseases, making them a more reliable choice for gardeners who want a low-maintenance tree.

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles in Different Climates

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are best suited for USDA hardiness zones 7-9, with mild winters and warm summers. They can tolerate some cold temperatures, but prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures can damage or kill the tree.

If you live in a colder climate outside these zones, you can still grow Black Diamond Crape Myrtles by taking certain precautions. Plant the tree in a protected location near a south-facing wall, where it can receive the most sun and warmth.

Apply a layer of mulch around the tree’s base to insulate the roots and protect them from frost damage. You can also cover the tree with burlap or frost cloth to protect the branches from cold temperatures and winter winds.

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles thrive in hotter climates and can withstand heat and drought conditions. However, ensuring the tree receives adequate water during a drought is essential.

Regular watering during hot, dry weather will help the tree maintain healthy growth and bloom profusely. To protect the tree from sunburn, avoid planting it in areas with intense, direct sunlight and provide some shade during the hottest part of the day.

Overall, Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are adaptable to various climates, but they require proper care and attention to ensure healthy growth and optimal bloom.

You can grow Black Diamond Crape Myrtles in different environments by choosing the right planting location, providing adequate water and protection, and following basic care guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Are Black Diamond Crape Myrtles suitable for small gardens?

Yes, Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are suitable for small gardens, as they have a compact growth habit and can be pruned to maintain a smaller size. However, it’s important to choose a planting location that allows the tree enough space to grow and bloom.

  1. How often should I fertilize my Black Diamond Crape Myrtles?

You should fertilize your Black Diamond Crape Myrtles once a year in the spring. Use a balanced fertilizer that is specifically formulated for flowering trees and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application rates.

  1. Can Black Diamond Crape Myrtles be grown in containers?

Yes, Black Diamond Crape Myrtles can be grown in containers, but choosing a large container allows for adequate root growth and drainage is essential. Use a well-draining potting mix and water the tree regularly to prevent it from drying out.

  1. How tall do Black Diamond Crape Myrtles grow?

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles typically grow between 10-12 feet tall, but can reach up to 20 feet in ideal growing conditions. However, the tree’s height can be controlled through regular pruning.

  1. Do Black Diamond Crape Myrtles attract bees or other insects?

Black Diamond Crape Myrtles attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators with colorful blooms. However, they are not typically considered a significant attractant for pests or insects.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Black Diamond Crape Myrtles are a stunning and versatile tree that can add color and beauty to any garden. They are prized for their dark, almost black foliage and vibrant, long-lasting blooms.

They can thrive in various climates and soil conditions with proper care and attention, making them an excellent choice for gardeners of all levels. Black Diamond Crape Myrtles will dramatically impact any landscape, whether planted as a specimen tree, hedge, or mass planting.

 

Last update on 2024-04-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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