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Photo: Chinese fringe flower

General description

The loropetalum shrub (Loropetalum chinense), also called 'Fire Dance' , is an evergreen member of the witch hazel family. It has a spreading form and grows from 6 to 12 feet tall and 6 to 10 feet in diameter.

In late winter or early spring, small drooping flower clusters develop. The flowers are red or white, depending upon the variety of loropetalum planted. The blooms continue to appear sporadically throughout summer and fall. Loropetalum does best when planted in full sun or partial shade, and in well-drained soil.

Plant requirements

Chinese loropetalum prefers a rich, well-drained loam with some acidity. The further south you go, the more loropetalum can profit from a location with partial shade (which may, however, result in a diminution of blooms). Keep young plants well watered.

Maintenance

  • Water anytime the top inch of soil feels dry during the first growing season. After loropetalum is established it will only require supplemental watering during very dry conditions.
  • Fertilizer.  Feed the shrub two to three times during the growing season with an all-purpose fertilizer.

Pruning

  • Remove any branches on the loropetalum that are rubbing together, growing outside of the designated planting location or growing inward. Use a pair of bypass shears and cut the branch off near the branch collar of the plant. The branch collar is the slight swelling that attaches the branch to the main trunk of the shrub.
  • Mix in a spray bottle 70 percent denatured alcohol and 30 percent water. Spray your bypass shears and wipe with a towel to sterilize your pruning tool. Cut off diseased areas of the loropetalum. Clean the blades off in between cuts to prevent spreading any disease.
  • Cut off any areas that display fungal infections. Fungal infections can exhibit themselves as leaf spots, curling of leaves and defoliation of branches. According the University of Florida, root rot can infect loropetalum. Apply a fungicide to the plant if you notice dry wilting leaves.
  • Trim the branches of loropetalum by reducing the branches back to the crown of the plant. Cut one-quarter of an inch in front of healthy outward growing buds.
  • Dig near the plant's root ball to remove a sucker or water sprout. Make a flush cut to remove the sucker from the root ball and replace the soil. Loropetalums oftentimes grow suckers, which may be mistaken as them spreading or as a new plant.
     

Practical use

Chinese fringe flower is used as a specimen plant and in foundation plantings. If you're willing to prune, the shrub can be used in hedges; otherwise, it requires little, if any pruning, making it a low-maintenance plant.

Properties

Height
40 - 58 cm
Color
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Soil type
Loam
Sunlight
Full sun
Partial shade
PH
Acid
Moisture
Well-drained
Hardiness
Hardy