Even if you can't pronounce the genus name Loropetalum (low-row-PET-a-lum), you've probably seen the fragrant, spider-like blossoms that adorn these plants. Loropetalum's common name is Chinese fringe plant or Chinese fringe flower. They are evergreen shrubs in the witch-hazel family (Hamamelidaceae) that hail from the Himalayas, China and Japan. Loropetalum is a small genus, and all of the shrubs have unique flowers that bloom heavily in early spring with sporadic blossoms that typically appear throughout the growing season.
Beautiful Loropetalum Plants
Chinese fringe flowers are evergreen plants that work well in a woodland garden or a shrub border. The genus name comes from the Greek, with loron meaning strap and petalon meaning petal. The petals of these flowers are long, thin and strap-like.
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You can select loropetalum cultivars that have weeping habits and mounding shapes or plants that have graceful, upright branches. A tall specimen can grow to 12 feet tall, but the regular plants don't get above 6 feet. Semi-dwarf and dwarf specimens are available. Weeping dwarf plants can grow to 2 feet tall but spread up to 4 feet.
Growing Chinese Fringe Flowers
Loropetalum plants prefer warmer climates and grow as perennials in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10. With their exceptionally vivid and unusual flowers, you may think that the plants require specialized care, but they are actually fairly easy to grow on an appropriate site.
Grow Chinese fringe flowers on a site that gets partial shade or lightly dappled sun. They require well-draining soil, and they prefer soil that is fertile, moist and rich in organic content. Generally, the plants are low maintenance and trouble free. You can leave the shrubs unpruned or trim the Chinese fringe flowers every year once they have finished blooming. Just be sure to prune plants shortly after the blooms fade, because they forms flower buds on the current season's growth (old wood) for blooming next year. You can also hard-prune a plant close to the ground after its spring bloom time to rejuvenate it. After that, the only pruning necessary is to remove broken or diseased branches in spring.
Options for Propagating Loropetalum
If you have one Chinese fringe plant, the chances are that you'll want another, or maybe you want to propagate more plants for friends or neighbors. Propagating Loropetalum isn't difficult. You can use seeds or else take cuttings.
If you want to grow new Loropetalum plants from seeds, act promptly. The minute the seeds are ripe, harvest them. Prepare containers with potting soil. Sow the seeds about 1/2 inch below the soil surface and irrigate regularly to keep the soil moist. Seeds from hybrid plants likely won't produce plants that are identical to the parent plant, and they may not germinate at all.
You can also propagate Chinese fringe plant by taking stem cuttings. Take 4- to 6-inch tip cuttings in summer, and remove the leaves from the lower stems. Press the bare stems in moist potting soil and apply bottom heat until the first roots appear. Make sure to avoid propagating patent-protected cultivar, which is an illegal practice.