If there is one shrub unsung in the decorative hedge world, it would be the Loropetalum. Maybe it’s because of the hard to pronounce name, or maybe it’s because plants like azaleas and forsythia have hogged the hedge spotlight for too long. Whatever the case, anyone wanting some flair in their landscape would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful plant than the Loropetalum.
This is the shrub that is always showing off, whether with their dramatic strap-shaped petals or the diverse foliage color ranging from bronze to purple to fiery red. The Loropetalum gets to work in the spring, popping out a mass amount of blooms with four to six petals on each (depending on the variety). But, this is one plant where the foliage is just as stunning as the flower. Some shrub varieties can go from a deep olive color in the spring to a gush of orange-reds in autumn.
The Loropetalum is commonly known as Chinese Witch Hazel, and its bold features contrast sharply with its low maintenance needs. Basically, give it some sun and water, and the shrub will do the rest. Insects and disease find other plant prey, and even the deer steer clear. Their size can range from about 6 feet in height and width to 12 feet if left unpruned, making them a perfect candidate for privacy hedges. They don’t mind the occasional shear, and they can be cut into a range of shapes (the highly motivated have even turned the Loropetalums into Bonsais). But, unless their size becomes unruly for your taste, pruning is rarely necessary.
The Loropetalum is highly adaptable to numerous landscape designs. If you’re tired of seeing a line of cars go by your road, you can plant a wall of these evergreen shrubs. They grow quite fast, and you will soon see a natural wall of numerous colors. The butterflies and hummingbirds will have a field day in the flowers, and you can watch the natural world fully at work. The Loropetalum also adapts quite well to partial shade, making it a perfect backdrop for a shade perennial garden.
Tests on the cold hardiness of the Loropetalum have made it down to almost 0 degrees F. But, if you live further north, you can always put the plant in a container and still enjoy the sublime looks.
But, now comes the hard part. Which Loropetalum is best for you?
Here are some prime candidates…
Ever Red Loropetalum
This blooming superstar begins the show in the spring with a flush of red flowers. But the foliage can’t stand to be second fiddle, and its burgundy colors will take the breath away. If you’re lucky, you might have blooms throughout the growing season. This shrub variety is also one of the more compact of the bunch, with a max height and width of 6 feet. Because of its small stature, the Ever Red Loropetalum is a go-to in almost any garden design, from a walkway feature to a colorful natural wall.But, be prudent with the pruning. Cut back lightly during the growing season only if you feel like the shrub is becoming unruly. Otherwise, leave it be, or you might not get that show of blooms the next year.
If plants had egos, the Ruby Loropetalum would be high on the arrogant list. And why wouldn’t it with its burst of pink blossoms and red foliage?The leaves are an emerald color when mature, but all the new foliage growth is a bright red, giving the shrub a triad of colors. The blooms can last for several months, but you won’t have time to miss the spent blooms because the leaves continue to show off all season. Its compact size (5 feet high and wide when mature) sits pretty in any landscape feature. Prune only when necessary.
Of all the varieties, the Burgundy Loropetalum probably has the most contrast between flowers and foliage. The hot pink dangling flowers dazzle on a stage of Bordeaux tinged foliage. Plus, its bigger size (10 feet high and wide max) makes it the ultimate privacy hedge. The blooms last for several months, but the foliage says “look at me” all growing season. Prune only when size becomes an issue.
This shrub should be called ever-purple instead of evergreen. The Zhu-Zhou pops out the pink blooms in early spring, but it’s only a backdrop for the maroon/purple foliage that turns heads wherever it sits. It’s the tallest of the varieties (12 feet high and wide at maturity), and it will be the most royal privacy screen you’ve ever had. Prune only when size becomes an issue.