Loropetalum (Loropetalum chinensis) is an evergreen shrub that looks good in just about any Florida garden. Also known as Chinese witch hazel or Chinese fringe flower, loropetalum puts on a beautiful show in spring with small, frilly flowers, typically pink.
Despite being native to China, Japan, and the Himalayas, this member of the witch hazel family (Hamamelidaceae) does quite well in Florida for those in zones 8–10a. This versatile shrub works equally well in foundation plantings and in landscape beds, so why not give it a try?
Loropetalum gets its name from from the Greek words for strap and petal, referring to the long, thin petals of its fringe-like blooms. The leaves are small and oval. While some loropetalum plants do have green foliage, it is most commonly found with lovely burgundy foliage that contrasts nicely with other plants.
Loropetalum chinensis rubrum is a subspecies with bright pink flowers and attractively colored foliage. Less commonly found in Florida is Loropetalum chinense var. chinense, which has green foliage and produces a white flower.
Loropetalum can grow 6 to 15 feet tall, but is usually pruned as a shrub. With its moderate growth rate, it works well as a screening plant, hedge, or border. It's often used as an accent plant for its beautiful floral display. Dwarf cultivars are popular for both their smaller size and for creating mass plantings, as these types can be planted more closely together than other cultivars.
Pink flowers and burgundy foliage
'Plum Delight™' has dark pink flowers and rose-purple leaves that become a lovely bronze-purple shade as they mature. This cultivar has a mature height and spread of 6 to 8 feet.
'Pizzazz™' offering something a little different with plum-colored flowers, this shrub will grow to 6 to 8 feet. The reddish purple leaves on this plant turn dark purple once they reach maturity.
'Sizzlin' Pink' has deep burgundy new growth that matures to lovely purple foliage. This pink-flowered cultivar grows to 4 to 6 feet tall and spreads 4 to 5 feet across.
'Ever Red™' has dark burgundy foliage and the reddest flowers of Loropetalum chinese var. rubrum. This particular cultivar will reach about 6 feet in height and will have a similar spread.
'Purple Pixie' is a dwarf cultivar with intense, deep purple leaves and vibrant hot pink flowers. This truly is a dwarf cultivar with a mature height of only 1 to 2 feet and a spread of 4 to 5 feet.
White flowers and green foliage
Emerald Snow® has white flowers and green foliage that starts out lime green and will mature to a height and spread of 4 feet.
Snow Muffin® forms a dense roundish mound with new light green leaves that mature to a dark olive color. This white-flowered cultivar reaches 1 to 3 feet in height and will spread 2 to 3 feet across.
Planting and Care
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 a 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.
For more information on loropetalum and other landscape plants, contact your local county Extension office.