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Lagerstroemia indica: the tree of San Bartolomeo

Photo by ILBONG NAM from Pixabay

There are many species of Lagerstroemia, about eighty, including some more robust and tall that reach 25 meters in height and those of reduced size of only 50-90 cm. Indica is one of the most widespread Lagestroemia species and is characterized by flowers that can be of different colors and is a resistant and easy to maintain type of plant.

Lagerstroemia indica, also known as the San Bartolomeo tree, is a small tree that comes from Asia. The first specimen was brought to Europe from China in the mid-1700s.

The tree is composed of a thin stem from which trunks with a clear and smooth bark branch off. It can reach a height of between 7 and 10 meters and has a rounded and not very thick crown of leaves and branches. Over the years, Lagestroemia indica tends to be less and less dense with branches and leaves, which are initially characterized by a very dark green color.

It is an ideal tree for the garden even for those who are not particularly experienced because it requires little care. In summer, at the ends of the branches, panicles of white, pink or lilac flowers develop which give a touch of liveliness to the garden. During the winter, however, the leaves of Lagerstroemia indica tend to the yellowish color, typical of autumn, and gradually they strip off the leaves.

Cultivation methodologies

Lagerstroemia indica requires to be planted in a completely or partially sunny place, it is not particularly affected by the cold or the heat so the ideal exposure is in partial shade in order to favor flowering. It does not require particular care, in fact, it is often satisfied with the water coming from the rains. The younger specimens, on the other hand, require to be watered more often during the warmer months or drought periods.

If the tree was planted in spring or summer, we recommend watering the plant at least twice a week for the first three months. If, on the other hand, the plant was planted in pots, then one must always make sure that the soil is moist enough but at the same time that no stagnant water is formed.

The ideal time to plant them in the garden is from April to June, choosing a clayey soil rich in nutrients.

The growth of the tree is quite slow, so it will not be necessary to prune it frequently but it will be sufficient to initially give it the desired shape and cut the unwanted branches from time to time, when necessary.

Diseases and treatments in brief

Lagestroemia indica is a very resistant plant that hardly gets sick but sometimes it can happen that it is struck by powdery mildew and its flowers by aphids. In case of diffusion of powdery mildew, it is possible to intervene using wettable or pure sulfur to vaporize on the plant.

Curiosity

Thanks to its natural ability not to be attacked by insects and to have a very compact stem, Lagerstroemia indica was originally used in Asia for the production of timber. Its name derives from Linnaeus who, after finding it, decided to baptize it with the name of Lagerstroemia Magnus von Lagerstroem, to pay homage to a friend of his. For those who do not have enough space available but love this species, it can also be grown in its bonsai version.

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