Lagerstroemia x fauriei 'Townhouse' - 'Townhouse' Crapemyrtle
Family - Lythraceae
Size - 15 to 20' with an equal spread. Medium to fast grower, approximately 2 1/2 feet per year. Can be grown as a multitrunk or single trunked tree. Many crapes are variable, some make better shrubs than trees, this form could be used either way, however it lends itself to tree stature very easily. Its form is upright and spreading.
Foliage - Lustrous dark green, approximately 2 1/2 to 3 inches in length, 1 1/2 inches wide. Fall color is a golden yellow, rivaling Ginkgo. Very clean and unbothered with disease. Fall color in general on Crapemyrtle can be highly variable, some are yellows while others are oranges and reds.
Flower/Fruit/Seed - Flowers on the cultivar 'Townhouse' are a pure white. Among Crapemyrtle cultivars, flower color range can be broad where whites, purples, pinks, and reds predominate. The 'Townhouse' in this photo was planted in the winter of 1995. It bloomed heavily the summer of 1996 and none in the summer of 1997. I attribute part of this to transplant recovery, (it takes a lot of energy to set flower and seed, and vegetatively the plant needs to have itself equipped for that) and the summer of 1997 was so slow in arriving that climate just wasn't conducive for plants such as Crapemyrtle which thrive in the heat and detest cool temperatures.
Bark - Gorgeous cinnamon red-brown, exfoliating. Reminds me a lot of Paperbark Maple. Out of all the Crapemyrtle bark I've seen, (and many other trees also) I think this is probably the best. The bark is a standout and worth acquiring the plant for if nothing else.
Pests and Diseases - 'Townhouse' has had no problems from insect or disease. Crapemyrtle in general can be plagued with powdery mildew and aphids, their two biggest problems. Eight years after it has been planted, in 2003, we've never once had to treat for disease or insects. It is one of the more pest free trees, especially among Crapemyrtle, that I've run across.
Landscape Use - Excellent choice for residential or commercial property. Makes a nice patio tree, focal tree or specimen. We are currently using it as a small parking lot island tree and it has performed admirably. Withstands heat, drought and cold.
Performance - 10 'Townhouse' is an outstanding tree, and should be a cultivar in demand in the near future. 'Natchez' which also has white flowers is a good cultivar but 'Townhouse' far surpasses it in my humble opinion. 'Townhouse' is a heavier flowerer and is superior in bark quality to 'Natchez'. It combines the ornamental characteristics (form, foliage, flower, and bark) with extreme toughness, durability, and flexibility of use.
The genus Lagerstroemia is a plant generally suited for milder climates, particularly the species indica. The National Arboretum has done extensive breeding and there are numerous cultivars ranging in size from groundcovers that can be used in hanging baskets, to dwarfs (2-3'), semidwarf (5-7') to tree size (20-30'). The crossing of L. indica with L. fauriei results in a plant with superior cold hardiness over the species. L.indica in general is only suitable in hardiness northward to zone 7 and in 0 or below 0 F will usually be killed to the ground. Fauriei crosses give hardiness which could be dependable in to at least the southern range of zone 5. Crapemyrtle bloom on new wood so having one killed to the ground each year isn't a total setback if you don't mind keeping it as a shrub. While taking in the plants around the grounds at the V.A. hospital in Louisville one late fall day, I ran across the head groundskeeper who HAD to show me the one crapemyrtle on the grounds. I remember it to be a scraggely, barren plant about 5 feet tall with numerous shoots radiating out of the base from being killed to the ground each winter. But it did flower, and he was as proud of it as if it were the only one of its kind anywhere in the world. There are a zillion Crapemyrtle cultivars in the market. Look before you leap as some have extreme problems, while others are practically problem free so buy from a reputable nursery. The National Arboretum cultivars are a solid choice in disease and insect resistance and hardiness.