Versatile Loropetalum Creates a Dramatic Display
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Few plants are as useful in so many landscape situations as this beautiful
spring-flowering shrub. You can’t go wrong with Chinese fringe flower,
though white or pink flowers and green, variegated or burgundy leaves
make it hard to decide on just one.
It can serve in foundation plantings, tall hedges, borders and low screens. Left alone, this evergreen shrub will grow 10 feet tall and wide with a thick, layered appearance. Compact forms exist and more are being developed. It will endure pruning, but is beautiful left to grow naturally in a sunny or partially shaded spot.
On a large mature plant, one option is to remove lower limbs, revealing a
beautiful structure and pleasant spot to relax. This technique will produce
a delightful small tree that creates as much drama as a Japanese maple.
Easy to find at garden centers and nurseries, Loropetalum prefers acid to neutral soil (leaves may yellow in alkaline soil). Transplanting from containers is no problem, but give these plants adequate moisture during the first season to ensure survival.
Varieties (discovered in nature) and cultivars (found in cultivation)
growing at the JC Raulston Arboretum give a glimpse into the wide world
of Loropetalum chinense. Names such as ‘Green Elf,’ ‘Blush,’ and ‘Zhuzhou Fuchsia’ tell of colors from far and near. Excitement seems to drip off plant tags listing ‘Snow Dance,’ ‘Sizzlin’ Pink,’ ‘Daybreak’s Flame’ and ‘Fire Dance.’
Loropetalum flowers in late winter or spring with long, narrow petals that resemble soft ribbons. These strap-shaped flowers are common to the witch hazel family, Hamamelidaceae, and can be fragrant. Each flower consists of
only four petals. But because three to six flowers cluster together at many
points along the branches, they create a spectacular overall display.
This plant flowers in the spring, so wait until after flowering to prune.
Scattered flower production may occur in fall, but don’t be alarmed. This shrub is just pleasantly reminding you to wait for more flowers come spring,
and come they will.