Loropetalum chinense, commonly called Chinese fringe flower shrubs, bring all-season color with their evergreen leaves and frilly flowers, which earned them the common name. Few shrubs rival their versatility and visual appeal, as well as their ability to reproduce from cuttings. Cuttings provide a surefire method of rooting new Chinese fringe flower shrubs, and the resulting plants will resemble the parent in every respect -- from flower and leaf color to growth habit and hardiness.
Fringe Flower Hardiness and Types
Chinese fringe flower shrubs grow outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 10, although their hardiness varies among cultivars.
- 'Emerald Snow' fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense 'Emerald Snow') grows in USDA zones 7 through 10.
- 'Purple Pixie' fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense 'Purple Pixie') grows in USDA zones 7 through 10.
- 'Pipa's Red' Chinese fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense 'Pipa's Red') grows in USDA zones 7 through 9.
- 'Ruby' (Loropetalum chinense f. rubrum 'Ruby'), a naturally occurring hybrid, prefers warmer temperatures and will only grow perennially in USDA zones 8 through 10.
Cutting Type and Preparation
Chinese fringe flower shrubs root best from softwood cuttings taken in spring just as the new growth starts to harden. The cutting should be 4 to 6 inches long with a green and bendable stem, and plenty of leaves at the tip. Flowers and buds draw energy away from root production, so avoid taking cuttings from blooming stems.
Sever the cutting approximately 1/4 inch below a set of leaves, then remove all the leaves along the bottom half of the stem to expose the nodes, which is where roots will emerge.
A five-second dip in 0.1-percent, or 1,000 parts per million, IBA rooting hormone liquid helps rooting, but you don't have to use it. When working with rooting hormone, wear protective gloves and long sleeves, and discard the excess used hormone rather than trying to reuse it.
Potting and Rooting Cuttings
Chinese fringe flower cuttings require little attention or care during the rooting process, but they must be potted in the right medium and kept under the right conditions to encourage successful rooting.
Wash a 6-inch pot in hot, soapy water. Rinse it thoroughly and let it air dry. Choose a pot with at least two drainage holes at the base.
Combine equal parts sharp sand or perlite and peat in a bucket. Stir the mixture while drizzling on water. Keep stirring and adding water until the peat plumps up and the whole mixture feels moist.
Fill the pot with the moistened mixture to within 1/2 inch of the top. Press the surface to collapse any air bubbles, then poke a hole in the center that is deep enough to hold the bottom half of the Chinese fringe flower cutting.
Stick the leafless portion of the Chinese fringe flower cutting into the hole and hold it upright while pressing the medium firmly against the stem. Drizzle water around the base to settle the medium.
Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag that is large enough to surround the Chinese fringe flower cutting without resting against it. Set the pot in a warm, bright spot out of direct sun. Keep the cutting away from direct sun.
Keep the growing medium moist but not soggy during the rooting process. Mist the cutting daily to keep the leaves hydrated. If too much condensation builds up inside the plastic bag, leave it off for a few minutes to let the moisture run off.
Check for roots in four weeks by carefully tugging on the base of the cutting and feeling for resistance. Chinese fringe flower shrub cuttings root typically root quickly, but some may take up to six weeks to put down roots.
Transplant and Aftercare
The sterile, porous medium used to root Chinese fringe flower shrub cuttings doesn't provide the right structure and nutrient content they need for long-term growth. Transplant them into individual 1-gallon containers filled with potting soil once they show signs of renewed growth, such as new foliage and stem tips.
Grow the rooted Chinese fringe flower cuttings in a sheltered area with regular water for the rest of the season. Transplant them into a bed with full sun or part shade and moist, fast-draining soil. Fall is the best time to plant in climates with mild winter temperatures. In colder climates, overwinter the Chinese fringe flower in a cold frame or indoors near an unshaded, south-facing window, then transplant in spring after frost danger has subsided and the soil has warmed up.
A Word of Warning
One concern when rooting Chinese fringe flower cuttings is the legal state of the cultivar. Many common types, such as 'Emerald Snow' and 'Purple Pixie' fringe flower are and cannot legally be reproduced without permission from the patent holder. Other varieties such as 'Pipa's Red' and 'Ruby' can be rooted at home without issue, as can any wild or species varieties.