Loropetalum: An awesome shrub for Central Florida
Published: Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 2:30 p.m.
Most gardeners I've come in contact with have a list of favorite plants. At the top of my list is firebush, which I've shared with you in a previous article.
Since fall is an excellent time to plant shrubs and trees, I thought I'd share with you my No. 2 plant, loropetalum, Loropetalum chinensis, commonly called (Chinese fringe bush). Loropetalum is native to China, the Himalayas and Japan.
Loropetalum is an evergreen shrub that can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 10A. It thrives in sunny locations in well-drained, acid to slightly alkaline soils. The leaves on the older types of loropetalum usually have more green that the newer types which have deep purple/burgundy leaves. Loropetalum is a repeat bloomer with peak blooming in the spring.
Loropetalum can grow up to 6 to 15 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide. It is typically planted in borders and kept trimmed to about 4 to 5 feet, or placed in landscaped beds and kept balled.
Bok Tower Garden in Polk County has the most stunning loropetalum shrubs I've ever seen. The plants there are growing in their natural form, and are a spectacular sight to behold when in bloom. Imagine seeing these tall, vase-shaped, spreading shrubs at their maximum height with burgundy leaves and hot-pink flowers. Stunning! I must admit that I have a loropetalum border in my garden that I've contained. However, I plan to get a single plant this fall and give it room to grow as a specimen plant.
Here are a few cultivars to consider:
Burgundy: As the name implies, it has burgundy foliage with pink flowers and can grow up to 14 feet tall.
Blush: A medium-sized shrub that grows 4 to 6 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide. It has red flowers with rose-red young leaves that eventually turn green.
Purple Pixie: With burgundy foliage, this cultivar makes an excellent container plant due to its weeping habit. It also can be used as a groundcover as it only grows to about 2 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet across.
Ruby: Avoid planting this cultivar in Central Florida as it's susceptible to loropetalum decline.
There also are cultivars with green foliage and white flowers.
Loropetalum is very hardy, so once the plant becomes established, it is very drought tolerant. Pest problems are uncommon. The loropetalums in my landscape are 8 years old, and I've never had any pest problems. The ideal time to prune is after they bloom in the spring.
Definitely consider adding loropetalum to your garden this fall.
Norma Samuel is the Urban Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Marion County Extension Service. Contact her at email@example.com.