The Q&A Archives: Loropetalum Hedge

Question: I have found a variety of loropetalum at a local nursery that seems to be the new burgundy variety (pink flowers & purplish leaves). I am looking for a shrub like plant to create an informal natural looking "hedge". The location is in full sun presently as the 3 newly planted crabapple trees east of this area are not very full or large yet. I expect the full sun to remain for several years. I want the hedge to be not much taller than 3' to 31/2' with minimal upkeep. I like the appearance of this plant. Would it be a good choice for my hedge? Can it be kept short with little effort and with out looking too "manicured"? Will it survive the full hot sun of the MS Gulf Coast? Do you have any other suggestions for a plant variety?

Answer: Loropetalum chinense, sometimes called the fringe flower, is a beautiful and versatile shrub that is a member of the witch hazel family (Hamameliadaceae) from China and the Himalayas. It is usually seen as a dense rounded shrub that only grows to 3-5 feet tall with arching branches bearing soft 1-2 inch long light green leaves. The typical form has white flowers, each with 4 narrow petals, clustered at the branch tips. Flowering is heaviest in the spring but sporadic flowers are likely to occur at anytime of the year. The versatility of Loropetalum is that it can be grown in mild coastal climates in light shade to full sun, yet can tolerate the cooler winter temperatures and heat associated with other regions. A primary difference in the plants grown in these extremes is whether the plant remains evergreen or not. In mild winter regions it remains evergreen and older specimens can be found that have obtained a height of 15 feet; more a small tree than a shrub. In colder climates (Zone 7 USDA and below) one can at best expect Loropetalum to be a deciduous shrub. Plant in neutral to slightly acidic soil and irrigate occasionally - plants prefer it moist but not wet.

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