mid-Nov in our Muskogee garden
Loropetalums (Loropetalum chinense), known as Chinese fringe-flower, come in a wide variety of flowering shrubs to be grown as specimen plants, in hedge rows and for winter interest in a flower bed. Their Fringe Flower name comes from the spider-like, frilly flowers that the shrubs produce in spring, summer or fall, depending on the variety.
These members of the Witch-hazel plant family can take full sun but prefer some shade to protect them from our intense summer heat. They are native to the woodlands of the Himalayas, Japan and China but have been hybridized by US plant breeders to be well-behaved.
The earliest Loropetalum introduction in American gardens (1880) had green leaves and white flowers. The shrubs’ current popularity came in the 1990’s when the new varieties with purple leaves and pink flowers came into garden centers.
There is one native Fringtree, Chionanthus virginicus White Knight. It is cold hardy to zone 4 and matures at 5 ft. tall and wide, with fragrant white flowers.
These shrubs are free of disease and insect problems and most are hardy to zone 7 or 8. Some gardeners prune them up into small tree form but no pruning is necessary.
Give them acidic, gritty soil that drains well; they have minimal water requirements after root establishment. Add compost to the soil when planting and allow leaf litter to decompose around the roots. Root rot can occur in clay soil or standing water.
Loropetalum (Loropetalum Chinese rubrum) all have pink, red or plum flowers and purple-green leaves.
There about 50 named varieties. Here are a few to consider -
Blush, Razzleberri, Monraz, Piroche, Daybreak’s Flame – compact and dense, bronze new growth, 8 ft. tall and wide.
Burgundy – red-purple-green leaves, 6-10 feet tall and wide
Crimson Fire – red leaves, cold hardy, 2 ft. tall and wide
Darkfire –5-6 ft. tall and wide
Daruma – deep plum leaves, 2-5 feet tall and wide
Ever Red – burgundy leaves, red flowers. 6 ft. tall and wide
Jazz Hands Bold – purple leaves, 6 ft. tall and wide
Jazz Hands Dwarf Pink – purple leaves, 2-3 ft. tall and wide
Jazz Hands Mini – purple leaves, 1 ft. tall and 3-ft wide
Jazz Hands Variegated - New growth splashed with pink and white
Little Rose Dawn –8-10 ft. tall
Pizazz – purple leaves, plum flowers. 6-8 ft. tall and wide
Plum Delight – rose-purple-bronze leaves, 6-8 ft. tall
Purple Daydream –3 feet tall and wide
Purple Diamond – 4-5 feet tall and wide
Purple Pixie – deep purple leaves, 2-ft tall and 4 ft. wide. Cascading form for container or wall
Red Diamond or Shang-Red – red flowers, 6 ft. tall and wide
Ruby – 3-5 ft. tall and wide, compact form
Zhuzhou Fuscia, Pippa’s Red – black-maroon, oblong leaves, the most cold hardy, best selection for tree and espalier pruning, 10-20 ft. tall
White flowering Loropetalum varieties have green leaves and include:
Ashford – tree form with gold-tan bark, 10-20 ft. tall and 15 ft. wide
Carolina Moonlight – late winter flowers, 4-ft tall and 5 ft. wide
Emerald Snow or Shang White– new growth is lime green, 4 ft. tall and wide
Jazz Hands Dwarf White –2-3 ft. tall and wide
Snow Dance – 8 ft. tall, 10 ft. wide
Snow Muffin – round mound form, winter flowers, 2 ft. tall and wide
In most varieties, Loropetalums have round-ish leaves that are 1-2 inches long. The four-petaled flowers are in the leaf axils. The bark is an exfoliating rich brown.
Michael Dirr suggests using tall and short, pink, red and white flowering varieties to form a screen. Dirr also feather prunes the mid-size shrubs to use as an airy, loose screening.
Although nothing is deer-proof, Loropetalums are deer resistant.