plant in a bright place, but sunny only during the coolest hours of the day; they are not afraid of the cold, as they can bear very harsh temperatures without any problems. If planted in an excessively shady place, they have a harmonious development, but tend to produce few flowers.
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Shrub and leaves Loropetalum
The loropetalum chinense is an evergreen shrub belonging to the Hamamelidaceae family. It is in fact a close relative of the Hamamelis and this is evident when observing the flowers. The genus includes 4-5 species from China, Korea and Japan. They tend to widen rapidly at the expense of upward growth. They are thus very suitable plants for the foreground of borders or for the creation of hedges. In general, we can say that an adult specimen will be about half a metre tall and 80 cm wide.
The leaves are oval in shape: the colour can range from bright green to purplish red. They are generally persistent, although consistent and long-lasting frosts (below -10°C) can cause them to fall. This should not frighten us, however, because the plant will be coated quickly as soon as the climate returns slightly sweeter. The new jets are very decorative because their color is often in sharp contrast with that of the branches of previous years.
Family and gender
Green, red, brown
White, pink, red
From 1 to 5 m
Up to 3 m
Up to -10°C (but there are more delicate varieties)
Mixed hedge, isolated specimen, border, in pot
Acid, leaf, never calcareous
Acid or neutral
Always moist, but well drained
usually the shrubs which have been planted for a few years have been able to withstand drought without any problems; however, we suggest watering the young shrubs during the hottest periods of the year, but only if the soil is too dry. In the autumn and spring it is advisable to add some mature organic fertilizer to the soil in the plants. It is also advisable to cover the ground at the foot of the loropetalum with mulch material, so as to keep the foot of the plant quite cool.
loropetalum likes an always fresh and slightly moist substrate. It is therefore important to devote yourself regularly to watering and never let the area in which it is inserted dry completely. To thin out the interventions we can consider the insertion of an automatic irrigation system drop by drop. Further help can come from a thick layer of mulch at the base of the plant. It will help to keep the roots cool and prevent excessive evaporation.
Pot plants should be monitored and followed even more closely, especially in spring and summer, as the strong radiation due to the pavement greatly increases the drying out of the substrate. However, it is equally important to avoid over-irrigating because this could cause root rot that is difficult to heal.
Towards March (but much depends on our geographical location) we have the production of flowers, grouped in groups: the long and fine shape of the petals, white, pink or red, gives them a very light and fluffy appearance. It is precisely the particular appearance of the inflorescences that is highlighted in the name of the plant. Loropetalum, in fact, means wool petal.
Spring flowering is very abundant and long-lasting (most of the time it lasts for at least twenty days). The presence of flowers completely transforms the appearance of the plant as the branches are completely covered. Some varieties may produce new buds during the year, in summer, but in a less abundant way.
The best times to proceed are undoubtedly spring and autumn. As with all shrubs, this last option is always preferable, especially if we live in areas that are not excessively rigid. During the winter our plant will have plenty of time to create a good root system on site and can give us good satisfaction as early as March.
Let’s proceed always when the soil is well dissolved and dry, therefore avoiding the days after long rains or freezings.
Let’s create a hole twice as wide and deep as the bread of the earth and place on the bottom a thick draining layer and then a dose of bottom fertilizer for acidophilic plants. Let’s cover and compact well. For the spacing between the various specimens, let’s regulate ourselves, informing ourselves immediately on the width that they will have as adults. Let’s remember that the loropetalum chinense grows more in width than in height!
They prefer slightly acid soils, rich in humus and very well drained. When planting these shrubs, it is best to avoid excessively burying the collar of the plant, which must be placed at ground level, to avoid water stagnation.
The loropetalum chinense is a shrub that requires acid soil. It therefore grows very well in alpine areas or where the substrate is not at all calcareous, clayey or compact. However, it is capable of withstanding soils with a neutral pH without suffering too much either in growth or in the coloration of the leaves.
If the soil in our garden is not suitable, we can work on extracting it and replacing it completely with purchased material and irrigating it only with rainwater.
An even better solution is to insert a large pot in the ground so that the new substrate is completely separated from the surrounding one and is not consequently contaminated by calcium.
For the plant to live well, it is important that there is always good drainage. It is therefore good, when planting, to create a thick base layer with gravel, pumice or pozzolana.
It happens by seed, in spring, or by cutting, by late summer.
Pests and diseases Loropetalum
They are usually not affected by pests or diseases. In case of excessive watering or waterlogging, they are subject to root rot.
They are quite healthy shrubs and are rarely attacked by insects or cryptogams.
Foliar chlorosis may occur due to unsuitable soil pH. In this case, we intervene by administering chelated iron and, in autumn, replacing the soil as much as possible. Radical rottenness, on the other hand, is caused by poor drainage and too much and/or too frequent irrigation.
Form and uses Loropetalum
Depending on the variety, the height can range from 1 to 5 metres. The habit is bushy and, as we have said, it tends to widen rather than grow in height. Dwarf or even more compact varieties can still be found on the market. This shrub has many uses: as an isolated specimen, in mixed hedges, in borders (especially compact varieties).
In recent years it has become very fashionable in small city gardens thanks to the persistence and beautiful colors of its leaves. It can easily be grown in pots (adapting its size to the final size that will reach the plant). It is also one of the favorite shrubs to be transformed into a beautiful bonsai.
History of Loropetalum
Loropetalum has only recently been introduced in Europe and has quickly become a very popular plant both in urban areas and in more informal gardens thanks to its slow growth and, consequently, to the low maintenance it entails. Its origins can be found in China and in particular in the Himalayan area.
It should be carried out in autumn using an acidophilic fertilizer in very light doses. Both liquid and granular formulations are good, even if the latter are much more practical.
Protection from cold
Thick mulching (or covering containers with insulating material) is strongly recommended (especially in the North) during the first years of planting.
If we live in an area characterized by icy winds, we can also use a cover with special sheets in order to avoid excessive dehydration and the consequent fall of the leaves.
Usually pruning is not necessary as growth is rather slow and the plant takes on its own its elegant natural shape. We only intervene to eliminate dead or damaged branches, in spring or autumn.
Loropetalum chinense: Varieties
Here are some particularly interesting cultivars:
Name and address
Fuchsia, very fragrant
Purple young jets and leaves
It continues to flower slightly until autumn
Purple red at the beginning, then light green
Beautiful contrast between the leaves
Dark brown almost black, nice contrast with the flowers
Very interesting in the mixed hedge
Very nice contrast with other plants with green foliage
Very compact posture, does not exceed one meter neither the height nor the width.
Ideal for containers or mixed edging