The Red Rocket Crape Myrtle, scientifically referred to Lagerstroemia indica, Red Rocket, is under U.S. patent and was introduced by Carl Whitcomb of Stillwater, Okla. The plant can be grown as a shrub or a multi-trunked tree. The Red Rocket Crape Myrtle features deep red foliage that quickly turns deep green and produces large clusters of bright red flowers. In the fall, the plant turns orange. The Red Rocket grows rapidly and can reach between 20 and 30 feet tall, with a spread of 15 to 20 feet when mature. Red Rocket Crape Myrtles are easy to grow and provide vibrant colors when exposed to full sunlight and warm conditions.
Red Rocket Crape Myrtles thrive in hot, sunny environments. It grows the most quickly when soil conditions are moist and drain well, but the plant can survive drier conditions, even drought, after it’s been established. For its flowers to be vibrant red, the plant needs full, direct sunlight. If it’s placed in partial shade, the Red Rocket will bloom, but the flowers lose intensity in their color. The Red Rocket blooms from mid-summer to mid-fall and may bloom more than once during the growing season.
Although the Red Rocket Crape Myrtle is extremely drought resistant, it needs regular watering in dry climates. Provide enough water to keep the roots moist. If the soil contains too much water, you will get fuller foliage but fewer flowers. Unlike most trees, the Red Rocket should not be pruned back prior to colder winter months. Pruning causes the stems to arch, which distorts the tree’s appearance. Pruning only is needed to remove excessively dense or crossing branches. To promote flower growth, you can pinch off dead flower heads during the summer months. Doing this may produce a second or third round of blooming during the season.