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Loropetalum

Stunning seasonal colors, quick-growing shade and classic aesthetics.

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Information on Loropetalum

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Like love at first sight, when most gardeners see a Loropetalum bush for the first time they are transfixed. How can such a plant in such extraordinary colors be real? How can this glowing vision, with neon pink blooms set against bright burgundy-red leaves be a plant I could actually grow in my garden? Well it is, and Loropetalum has become the ‘must have’ plant for many gardeners in warmer zones, and it has proved itself to be easy to grow and dependable in many different parts of the garden.

Time and time again we have been amazed by new plants coming from China and Japan, right back into the 19th century, and it remains just as true today. Close relatives of our wild witch-hazel, the slender, twisted petals of the Loropetalum flower seem to have been lifted from a China painting, and this plant will grow right alongside other more well-known Asian plants like azaleas and camellias, as well as out in sunnier parts of the garden. You don’t need green thumbs to grow this plant that looks too exotic to be easy (although it is), but you might need your sunglasses.

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

Using Loropetalum Bushes on Your Property

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In all but the smallest gardens we can always use lots of bushes in the 4 to 6-foot range, and that is exactly where a mature Loropetalum bush sits. Its broad, rounded form is ideal for garden beds anywhere. Plant it among evergreens around your home – its form and leaf coloring will make a wonderful contrast to the deep greens of most green bushes used in foundation plantings, and it’s boldness adds a terrific splash of color.

Woodland areas, alongside other woodland plants like camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas is an ideal setting for the Loropetalum bush, although it doesn’t need acidic soil as much as those plants do. There can be brighter spots and direct sun in open woods, and those places are ideal. The flowers of Loropetalum make a vibrant contrast to the more muted pastels found in most woodland plants, and the foliage is very different from their dark green leaves. Especially after the blooming season is over, its leaves continue to add interest to those parts of your garden.

The Loropetalum bush is sun tolerant, and its bright colors stand out in the brightest light, so it’s a great choice for planting in sunny beds, where the warm red leaves will glow and sparkle, and the pink flowers will really pop in the sunlight, showing from yards and yards away. Plants for sunny beds are often blue or silver, so these bushes make the perfect plant contrast. When choosing a planting spot, remember that this plant blooms early in the year, when the weather can still be cool, so make sure you place it where it can be seen from windows, so that you won’t miss its glory. Tucking it in an out of the way place would be a mistake.

With its Asian origins, you can certainly use Loropetalum bushes in gardens of that style too, and it would be perfect in a calm courtyard, where its brilliance would look even more striking in a tranquil setting.

For planter boxes and pots too, Loropetalum bushes work well, with foliage right to the ground and exactly the kind of year-round beauty that we need to include in boxes, where every plant must bring a lot to the show.

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What are Loropetalum Bushes Like?

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Loropetalum Bushes for the Garden

There are just two or three species in the plant genus called Loropetalum, and some botanists only recognize one. These plants can also be called fringe flowers, or strap flowers. The only species seen in gardens is:

Chinese fringe flower, Loropetalum chinense – this original form was named by European botanists in 1862, and the first plants were brought to Europe by the British nursery Messrs Veitch in 1880. It may have been introduced into America around the same time. It is found in nature growing in forests and clearings on hillsides between 3,200 and 4,000 feet above sea-level, in most of China, around the Himalayas in northeastern India, and also in Japan With green leaves and white flowers this plant remained something for more specialized gardeners and collectors, who enjoy its soft, muted look. It is still sometimes available, but for gardens it has been largely displaced by:

Red Chinese fringe flower, Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum – this plant was only described in 1942, and it grows in a very restricted area along the lower parts of the Yangtze river, in Hunan province. Also known as the red Zhi flower. Since its discovery Chinese and Japanese gardeners have been collecting this plant and developing beautiful garden forms. Some of these began to arrive in America in the 1980s. In this variety the spring red leaf color of the species lasts more-or-less all year round, darkening to purple in summer. The flowers are vibrant neon pink, instead of white.

There are many garden varieties of this remarkable plant, some distinctive, and others looking very much like each other. There is some overlap among the varieties available, with the same, or very similar plants being sold with different names and trademarked names. Some of the best, different and most attractive are:

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