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High on my list of favorite shrubs is loropetalum - Chinese fringe flower - loropetalum chinesis.Loropetalum

I was first introduced to it in the early 90's and soon thereafter made a place for loropetalum in my landscape. I'm not sure when this relative of witch hazel was "discovered" or created for that matter, but what an absolute gem this shrub is!

Loropetalum has an open habit with gently weeping branches. It looks best when maintained in this manner (my opinion) rather than pruned as a formal hedge. That is not to say you won’t need your pruning shears. I have personally seen one older specimen 12’ high by 16’ wide! Granted, this was left untouched since planted and of a variety that grows large. Typical size is a more normal 4’ by 6’ but because it’s growth habit you have the versatility to use this shrub in many different applications.

What first attracts people most toward loropetalum is probably the colored foliage. Typically the leaves have some shade of red in them. Predominately burgundy, rose or plum tinged with green. Different varieties have more or less color in relationship to the green but there is no mistaking the dominant color. A mostly-evergreen shrub that isn’t green! Wow what a concept! The color opens up all sorts of possibilities in landscape design.

Loropetalum isn’t called “Chinese Fringe Flower” for nothing. Every spring the shrub lights up in fuchsia/magenta flowers resembling tiny ribbons. A healthy specimen’s bloom will completely cover the plant making the foliage barely noticeable. Flowering lasts four weeks with sporadic bloom throughout the year.

I’ve grown loropetalum in full sun and partial shade with no noticeable difference in the amount of bloom or foliage color. In full shade the bloom production drops. Foliage tends to be more sparse and color fades more into the greens. I have enjoyed this plant and watched it thrive in temperatures from 5 degrees to 105 degrees F.

Insect problems? Nope! Fungus or disease?? Double nope!!

What more could you ask for in a shrub? Flexible and versatile growth habit, mostly evergreen (that isn’t green), tolerant of hot and cold, disease and pest free and flowers to boot!

You had to ask… there has been a recent introduction of a new variety of loropetalum. I believe it is patented so distribution is limited and will be slow to reach all markets but is well worth seeking. For my money it makes all other strains irrelevant.

This variety is marked under the name “Purple Diamond” or may also be listed as “Shang-hi”. It has the most incredible, intense purple foliage you’ve ever seen! Under some light conditions it even looks black. Absolutely gorgeous and it holds it color throughout the foliage! “Purple Diamond” has also been bred to be more compact and globose growing 4-5’ high and wide. Flowering and hardiness are similar to other varieties.

Last year I managed to procure (with inside connections and pulling some strings!) 200 “Purple Diamond” loropetalum in three gallon containers for my customers. They sold out in a couple of weeks. That kind of response is “unheard of” in the business and oh by the way, that was all the “Purple Diamond” I could get my hands on for the year in spite of my connections!

If you’ve never tried loropetalum, you’re missing the boat no matter what variety you choose.

“Purple Diamond” is special - not to be missed. Great Plant!

Flash: Keep your eyes open this year for a dwarf version of “Purple Diamond” tentatively marketed under the name “Purple Pixie” only growing 2’ by 2’….