I feel like the FDA pulling the plug on a prescription drug trial before all the results are in, but I am atypically confident that Delta Jazz crapemyrtle is a unique hot plant for Arkansas. Our University of Arkansas Plant Evaluation program started evaluating this plant in 2010, and although it has only been under review for less than two years, I feel this crapemyrtle has tremendous ornamental potential for Arkansas gardeners.
Delta Jazz, developed by researchers at Mississippi State University (MSU), was introduced to the retail trade in the spring of 2010. What impresses me most about this introduction is the striking contrast between the strong, medium pink flowers and the dark burgundy leaves. Although one researcher at MSU is quoted as describing the foliage as a “dark brown,” I liken it more to a burgundy-maroon. Unlike some other dark-foliaged plants, the foliage on this plant appears to retain that dark color very well under our brutally hot summers. Flowering appears to be fairly continuous from mid-June to early October.
Based on published information, this should finish out as a medium-sized crapemyrtle (6-10 feet tall). It is too early to comment on the strength of the bark characteristics. I must mention that when I first saw this selection in Texas in 2009, the foliage was destroyed by powdery mildew. As of now, I have not observed this as a serious issue in Arkansas, but I will continue my watch. Most of the online literature indicates the cold hardiness for this plant is USDA Zone 7-9, however, so far it looks suitable for Zone 6.
Common Name: Delta Jazz crapemyrtle
Botanical Name: Lagerstroemia hybrid
Type: Deciduous shrub
Size: 6-10 feet tall x 4-5 feet wide
Watering: Drought tolerant once established
When to Fertilize: Minimal requirement
In Your Landscape: Specimen
(From Arkansas Gardener Volume XI Issue IX.)