Loropetalum is a finely textured evergreen shrub. It has a loose open form and will grow as high as 12 ft (3.7 m) and 6-8 ft (1.8-2.4 m) wide. Loropetalum has a spreading habit with branches arranged in horizontal layers. Young shrubs have greater spread than height and are densely branched. When vertical stems are periodically removed loropetalum makes an effective large scale groundcover with some newer varieties selected especially for that purpose. The flowers are arranged in small clusters with each having 4 narrow straplike petals that droop downward. Flowers resemble those of its close relative the witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana). There are white and red flowered forms of loropetalum and both bloom prolifically beginning in late winter into spring and then continue sporadically throughout the summer. The green-leafed varieties have fragrant flowers that are white or yellowish. 'Rubra' and 'Razzleberri' are among several named red flowered forms and tend to bloom earlier than the white form. The red forms are much showier in bloom than the white whose flowers tend to get lost with the effect that the shrub just looks like it has lighter foliage color when in bloom.
white loropetalum flowers and seed capsule
One of last year's dark woody seed capsules is held above this year's newly emerged flowers.
The leaves of loropetalum are oval, 1-2 in (2.5-5 cm) long and about 1 in (2.5 cm) wide and are held alternately on the stem. Foliage of the white form is light green to yellowish-green and lighter on the underside. Red forms typically have leaves that are darker green and have burgundy, red or copper tints depending on the selection.
Loropetalum chinense is native to Japan and southeastern Asia including southern China.
Grows well in organically rich, gritty, acidic soil with good drainage but very adaptable to less than ideal conditions. Loropetalum has few pests and requires no pruning except to maintain desired size. Benefits from fertilizing 2 or 3 times a year.
Light:Prefers partial shade. Shifting or high shade is best.
Moisture: Moist but well drained. Drought tolerant once established
Hardiness: USDA Zones 7-10
Propagation: Plant fresh seed or by semi-ripe cuttings taken in spring or early summer.
This red loropetalum selection blooms earlier than the white but lacks fragrance. Download a large version (800x600) of this image.
In the past few years loropetalum has become increasingly popular and is now seen everywhere from commercial properties to streetside plantings to residential. Everyone seems to be discovering the charms of this beautiful and robust shrub. Its graceful, horizontally layered shape makes it a perfect foundation plant and with periodic pruning can be used in hedges. The red flowered forms add beautiful contrasting color and texture in shrub borders and look great massed together. Lower growing varieties are now available for use as large scale ground cover.
Attractive evergreen foliage, fragrant flowers and low maintenance requirements are just a few of loropetalum's talents. Due to its vigor and adaptability, many new selections have become available in the past several years. This is the only member of the genus Loropetalum which is in the witchhazel family Hamamelidaceae. Other well known members of this large family are witch-alder (Fothergilla major), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) and parrotia (Parrotia persica).