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 that hail from the Himalayas, China and Japan. Loropetalum is a small genus, and all of the shrubs have unique flowers that bloom in early spring.
Beautiful Loropetalum Plants
Chinese fringe flowers are evergreen plants that work well in a woodland garden or a shrub border. The genus name Loropetalum comes from the Greek, with loron meaning strap and petalon meaning petal. The petals of these flowers are long, thin and strap-like.
You can select Loropetalum cultivars with weeping habits, mounding plants 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 thrive 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 in an appropriate site.
Grow Chinese fringe flowers in 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'll need to prune the Chinese fringe flowers every year once they have finished blooming. 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.
You can also propagate Chinese fringe plant by taking cuttings. Take 4 to 6 inch tip cuttings in summer. Plant them in moist potting soil and apply bottom heat until the first roots appear.
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.