By Don Hertzler, Trinity Woods resident and Tulsa Master Gardner
Our campus abounds with the summer blooms of the Crepe Myrtle. Most modern crepe myrtles are Lagerstroemia indica which is a native plant in Asia, south China, and parts of Japan. These plants love heat and sun but need regular water. Oklahoma’s own Dr. Carl Whitcomb is a major breeder of the highly popular modern crepe myrtles varieties that rebloom all summer and are mildew resistant. He developed plants with small, medium and tall mature heights so that drastic pruning was no longer necessary each year to contain 25-foot-tall shrubs. Dr. Whitcomb started his breeding program while a professor at Oklahoma State University but then went into private business to introduce new varieties into the market. Most recently, he has developed crepe myrtles that rebloom on the same seed panicle, eliminating the need to remove the dead panicles during the summer. If only Dr. Whitcomb could develop a fragrant crepe myrtle!