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Loropetalum Plant

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Picture of a pink lorapetalum.

Picture of a pink loropetalum.

Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

Plant Taxonomy of Chinese Loropetalum Plant:

Plant taxonomy classifies Chinese loropetalum as Loropetalum chinense. "Chinese fringe flower" is listed as a common name, but this is a case where the Latin name is more commonly used in some circles than the common name; when I use it as an alternate common name, I do not capitalize.

Plant Type:

Chinese loropetalum is an evergreen shrub of the broadleaf variety.

Characteristics of Chinese Fringe Flower:

The shrub bears fragrant white (or off-white) flowers in spring. Loropetalum has a spreading form and may attain a height of 12 ft with a width a bit more than half that. For cultivars with red or pink flowers, see below.

Planting Zones for Chinese Loropetalum:

Popular in the southeastern U.S., Chinese loropetalum is best grown in planting zones 7-10. It may survive winter in a colder climate but most likely won't be evergreen there.

Sun and Soil Requirements:

Chinese loropetalum prefers a rich, well-drained loam with some acidity. The further south you go, the more loropetalum can profit from a location with partial shade (which may, however, result in a diminution of blooms). Keep young plants well watered.

Landscaping Uses for Chinese Loropetalum:

Chinese fringe flower is used as a specimen plant and in foundation plantings. If you're willing to prune, the shrub can be used in hedges; otherwise, it requires little, if any pruning, making it a low-maintenance plant.

Care for Chinese Loropetalum: Pushing the Hardiness Envelope:

Thinking of growing Chinese loropetalum in a climate colder than zone 7? To increase the shrub's chances of survival, apply garden mulch to protect its root system and plant it where it will enjoy a warmer microclimate.

Name Origin for Loropetalum or "Fringe Flower":

Both the common name, "fringe-flower" and the Latin name, Loropetalum derive from the appearance of bush's flower, the petals (petalon, in Greek) of which resemble fringe or little straps (loron, in Greek). Chinese loropetalum is in the witch-hazel family; those familiar with the flowers of witch-hazel tree will notice the family resemblance!

Cultivars:

Two Chinese loropetalum cultivars that have been developed for those not content with the white flowers and green foliage offered by the original are:
  • Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Burgundy'
  • Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Ruby'

'Burgundy' may be the best pick for foliage fanatics. When young, the leaves of 'Burgundy' are reddish-purple. In summer, its leaves darken, becoming a greenish-purple; but in autumn, the foliage turns a bright red. Its pink blooms stand out well against its foliar color. 'Burgundy' reaches a height of 6-10 feet, with a similar width.

Being a true dwarf, 'Ruby' makes for a nice compact, rounded shrub, averaging 4' x 4'. Its new foliage is ruby red (thus the name), and its flowers hot pink.

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