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LOROPETALUM

Loropetalum plant'Fringe Flower' or Loropetalum chinense rubrum is one of the newer introductions to home gardens. The bright attractive purplish bronze leaves and unusual spidery-like fuchsia colored flowers are a bright contrast with most garden plants. Late spring flowers are usually the most prolific with occasional flowers throughout the summer.

The two plants I have in my garden, provide three characteristics that I really like in plants. 1) Showy bright leaf color; 2) Interesting leaf texture; and 3) attractive (unusual) flowers. I have mine planted in two different areas of the garden. One planted in full sun, has bright leaf color, while the other which is planted in part sun and shade does not have nearly as attractive leaf color. So I moved it to a sunnier location this spring. Both plants have suffered some freeze damage from the December winter storm, but seem to be coming back from the roots. Growers estimate that the plant is hardy to about 10 degrees, but the unusual December (winter) storm was tough on the plants, as it was with many others.

This plant is known by two common names 'Fringe Flower' and 'Razzleberri'. It may grow up to 4 or 5 feet at maturity and about the same width, but can be kept lower with simple pruning or shearing. Use them in mid-bed plantings, containers, borders, or as foundation plants in a bright sunny part of the landscape.

The leaves are about 2 inches long and approximately one inch wide. They are bright reddish bronze upon opening, then turn purplish bronze, fading to greenish bronze late in the season.

Flowers are a bright fuchsia to raspberry-red in color and about 2 inches across. The flowers consist of many narrow petals and are somewhat spidery in appearance.

PLANTING LOCATION

In the northwest they flower best and have the most attractive leaf color when planted in full sun. Select a spot where the soil is well-drained and add generous amounts of organic humus into the planting soil. Be sure to set the plant right at ground level, so the top of the root ball is level with soil surface.

FEEDING

Use a Rhododendron or Evergreen type of fertilizer to feed them. Spread the fertilizer at the drip-line of the plant, never under the plant where it might burn the feeder roots. Then be certain to water-in the fertilizer immediately after application, so there is no chance of burning the feeder roots. The best time to feed Loropetalum is in late winter or late spring.

PRUNING

Plants have a rather compact growth habit and seldom need pruning attention. However, should you want to shape the plant or prune to confine its growth it is best done in earliest spring.

INSECTS AND DISEASES

This is one plant that is seldom bothered by insects or diseases. However, aphid can occasionally infest new growth, so be on the lookout for this pest.

WINTER PROTECTION

After this past winter, I would suggest that one provide winter protection, for the plant, against early freezes and exceptionally cold weather. One of the best ways to provide this protection would be to place stakes on four sides of the plant, then drape burlap or some type of cloth material over the stakes and plant. Then as soon as the freezing weather is over, remove the covering, putting it back in place only if another freeze occurs.

WATERING REQUIREMENTS

No special watering attention is needed. The plants watering needs are similar to most other broadleaf evergreen shrubs. A light mulch of bark or peat moss will help retain moisture and keep the roots cool during the summer.

Loropetalum is an attractive evergreen to add some bright foliage color, interesting texture and showy flowers to the landscape.

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