Loropetalum Chinese Fringe Shrubs: How To Care For Loropetalum Plants
By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Next time you are outdoors and detect an intoxicating scent, look for an unassuming evergreen shrub decorated with fringy white flowers. This would be the Chinese fringe plant, or Loropetalum chinense. Loropetalum plants are easy to cultivate in USDA plant hardiness zones 7 to 10. Some varieties are hardier than others. Choose the right cultivar and then learn how to care for Loropetalum so the delightful fragrance can perfume your yard.
About Chinese Fringe Plants
Loropetalum plants are native to Japan, China and the Himalayas. The plants may be as tall as 10 feet (3 m.) but are usually small trees of 5 feet (1.5 m.). The leaves are oval and glossy green, set on stems with crinkly brown bark. Blooms appear in March to April and last for up to two weeks on the stems. These flowers are 1 to 1 ½ inch (2.5 to 3.8 cm.) long and made up of slender long strappy petals.
Most varieties are white to ivory but there are some Chinese fringe shrubs that are in bright pinks with purple leaves. An interesting fact about Chinese fringe plants is their longevity. In their native habitat there are specimens that are over one hundred years old and 35 feet tall.
There are several cultivars of Chinese fringe. These include:
- The Hillier form has a spreading habit and may be used as a ground cover
- Snow Muffin is a dwarf plant only 18 inches (48 cm.) tall with small leaves
- The popular Snow Dance is a dense compact shrub
- Razzleberri produces bright pinkish—red fringe flowers
Whichever cultivar you choose, growing Loropetalum shrubs requires sun to partially sunny locations and organic rich soil.
How to Care for Loropetalum
These plants are low maintenance and not terribly fussy. Their lighting requirements range from part sun to full sun; and although they prefer rich soil, they can also grow in clay.
The plants may be pruned to keep them in a smaller size. Pruning is done in early spring and a light application of slow-release fertilizer right around the same time will enhance the plant’s health.
Chinese fringe plants are tolerant of drought once established. A layer of mulch around their root zones will help reduce competitive weeds and conserve moisture.
Uses for Loropetalum Shrubs
The Chinese fringe plant makes an excellent border or specimen. Plant them together as a screen or along the edges of the home as foundation plants.
The larger cultivars also assume the form of small trees when the lower limbs are removed. Be careful not to over prune as the limbs lose their natural shape. The more adventurous gardener might want to try to espalier these beautiful shrubs or even bonsai the plant for a pot bound display.
Growing Loropetalum shrubs as ground covers is easy if you choose a low growing cultivar like Hillier. Occasionally prune the errant vertical stems to help the appearance.
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Planting Loropetalum chinense
The planting of Loropetalum chinense is usually in fall, but if purchased in a pot or container, you can plant in spring or summer while avoiding frost spells and days of intense heat.
- Loropetalum chinense loves the sun, especially in winter, but it abominates it if it is sweltering hot in summer.
- Light shade in the afternoon in summer is ideal.
- If you shelter your Loropetalum chinense from cold wind, you’ll be extending its winter blooming.
- Follow our advice on planting shrubs
Potted Loropetalum chinense
Loropetalum chinense is a shrub perfectly suited to growing in pots.
If you’re lucky to have a terrace that can welcome a large pot, you’ll be able to grow Loropetalum chinense in a container, because its growth is slow and its “adult” size is quite small.
Note also that Loropetalum chinense is particularly hardy to the cold, so growing it in pots is all the more possible.
- Ensure that you have proper drainage.
- Fill the pot in with good soil mix.
- Provide fertilizer once a year.
- Water in case of heat wave or prolonged dry spell because plants in pots need water more often.
About Chinese Fringe Plants - Tips For Growing Loropetalum Shrubs - garden
Loropetalum, Loropetalum chinense, sometimes called Chinese fringe flower, is a versatile shrub that is a member of the witch hazel family.
It usually grows as a round shrub. Different varieties range from 1′ to 10′ tall, with arching branches bearing soft 1-2 inch long leaves. The older common form has green leaves with white flowers, each with 4 narrow petals, clustered at the branch tips. The new pink-flowered forms have deep maroon leaves.
Flowering is heaviest in the spring but sporadic flowers are likely to occur at anytime of the year.
Loropetalum can be grown in mild coastal climates in light shade to full sun, yet it easily tolerates the colder winter temperatures and heat associated with other parts of Georgia. Plant in neutral to slightly acidic soil and irrigate occasionally – plants prefer it moist but not wet.
The red-leaf/pink flower form of loropetalum has made it a star of the horticultural world in only a decade.
HARDINESS A test garden in Georgia recorded 4 degrees F without damage to Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum cultivars.
DESCRIPTIONS (taken from San Marcos Growers)
This is the species shrub with white flowers. It is a dense rounded shrub with arching branches bearing soft 1-2 inch long light green leaves that typically only grows to 3-5 feet tall although older specimens can be found that have obtained the height to 15 feet. This is a great plant for the woodland garden.
White flowers, grows 6′ x 6′
White flowers, grows 3′-4′ high by 3′-4′ wide
Purple Leaf varieties
This cultivar was one of the first red flowered forms to hit the nursery trade. It is an exceptionally nice plant that is listed as growing to 6 feet tall to 4-5 ft. wide. In a test garden, a 3 year old plant has reached 4 feet tall and appears more upright and open growing than ‘Hines Purpleleaf’. The foliage of ‘Blush’ emerges a rose-red then turns to a medium green. In a coastal climate, where this plant is always putting on new leaves, this makes for a multi-colored effect and as there are always some green tinged leaves present on this plant, it is more useful in a natural setting than other red leafed forms. The rose-pink flowers are lighter in color and larger than ‘Hines Purpleleaf’. This plant appears to be the same plant that is marketed under the name ‘Monraz’ by Monrovia Nursery.
The new foliage on this evergreen shrub is reddish-purple then matures to purple-green. In the fall, the foliage will again change colors to a brilliant red. The pink flower blooms intermittently throughout the year. Grows 6-10 feet tall and as wide. Same growing requirements as other Loropetalum varieties. May be the same plant as what is called Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum ‘Sizzling Pink’
‘Hines Purpleleaf’ – Plum Delight (TM)
This plant is a very attractive cultivar retains good dark foliage color year round. Hines nursery describes it as a “rounded evergreen shrub that has gracefully arching branches similar to ‘Bridal Wreath’ Spirea”. Mature size is 6-8 feet tall with a similar spread. The leaves, with a slight undulation through their length, emerge a rosy red and age to a dark bronze. The flowers, with 4 thin dark rose colored petals are clustered at the branch tips – flowers are smaller and darker than the cultivar ‘Blush’
Rounded, evergreen shrub with graceful, arching branches to 6-8 ft. tall. Bright fuchsia, fringe flowers appear in masses in spring and then throughout the year. New growth is a dark burgandy, ultimately maturing to a brilliant purple. Can be used in a variety of ways – in mass plantings as a hedge as a specimen tree or as a patio tree. Hardy to 15-20̊ F. Very similar to ‘Hines Purpleleaf’.
A compact evergreen shrub with bronze-red new growth, with age the leaves turn olive-green. The pink flowers bloom through out the year, peaking in April. It will grow 4-6 feet high and as wide. May just be another name for Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum ‘Blush’.
A compact, rounded evergreen shrub with shiny, ruby red young leaves. Pink, fringe flowers that bloom year round. 3-5 ft. tall. Sun or dappled shade. 15-20̊ F. Leaves are more rounded and undulating than other varieties. Also the smallest shrub.
Upright, arching habit with rich, ruby red new growth changing to a lustrous reddish-purple. At maturity, the leaves change to green with only a hint of reddish pigment left. ‘Fire Dance’ has good foliage color and the flowers are dark pink. A fast grower to 3-6 ft. tall, these are excellent container plants. Hardy to 15-20̊ F. Sun or shade. This selection introduced by Piroche Plants in Canada.
Upright shrub w/ fountain shaped habit to 5 ft tall. Very dark purple foliage and bright pink flowers.
A very dark cultivar with persistant blackish maroon leaves. A upright plant that is among the largest of the cultivars, to 10 feet. Flowers are deep pink. This plant can be trained as a standard or espaliered.
Neon pink flowers, spreading, grows 2′ high by 2.5′ wide
Dark red flowers, grows 6′ x 6′
Vibrant pink flowers, grows 4′-5′ by 4′-5′
Pink flowers, weeping, grows 2′ by 4′
The name Loropetalum is derived from the greek words loron, a strap, and petalon, a leaf or petal in reference to the narrow flower petals. Various cultivar names have caused some confusion as to the identity of a plant purchased. It is always difficult when a plant cultivar name is listed with a second trademark name (TM) added on.
This has to do with laws governing trademarks and plant cultivar names (you can’t trademark a cultivar name) and is a practice that nurseries use to discourage others from growing a particular plant more often than not, it just leads to consumer confusion. If a nursery legitimately owns the rights to a plant, it will have a patent number or a patent pending on the plant.
Trademarks, on the other hand are just names that are registered, not a product. Most people will end up calling the plants by their catchy trademark names, rather then by the cultivar names, however, they should know that the legitimate names, and the ones that should be used by nurseries growing these plants. These are those names inside the single quotation marks. If a plant has a valid Plant Patent the patent number must be displayed on a tag at the time of resale and if the patented plant has been reproduced by a nursery it must receive the rights to do this from the individual who holds the patent rights.
Normally, loropetalums have few serious pest or disease problems. However, root rot can be an issue, especially in poorly drained soils. In addition, leaves may become chlorotic (yellow) in alkaline (pH greater than 7.0) soil. Recently, however, a bacterial gall disease (caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas savastanoi) has been found on loropetalums in SC. Inspect and avoid buying plants with galls. These dark-colored galls on branches may cause branch dieback or plant death. Prune the branches several inches below the galls, and dispose of the prunings. Disinfest the pruners between cuts by dipping in 10% bleach solution, or spray pruners with rubbing alcohol. Loropetalums are relatively deer resistant.
Loropetalum is generally free of pests and diseases and will grow best in full sun, but can also be grown in partial shade. You can add loropetalum to your landscape at any time of the year. This eye-catching shrub prefers acidic and well-drained soils, as alkaline or wet conditions can cause problems for these plants.
The loropetalum cultivar ‘Ruby’ seems to be particularly susceptible to decline—likely caused by nutrient deficiencies—and has not done well in many areas in Florida. Other cultivars, such as ‘Burgundy’, ‘Plum Delight™’, ‘Pizzazz™’, and ‘Sizzlin’ Pink’ have had fewer reports of decline issues.
With a vase-shaped growth habit and lovely, spreading canopy, loropetalum can grow 6 to 15 feet tall. You can keep it more compact with regular pruning in home gardens, loropetalum is often kept to a much smaller, rounded canopy of 5 to 6 feet.
I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide. I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.