This has been a spectacular year for loropetalums (Loropetalum chinensis) around North Central Florida. The mildly sweet-smelling, pink fringed flowers give this plant its common name, Chinese fringe flower. Loropetalums are one of the most commonly planted ornamental shrubs but they can also be grown as trees like this beauty shown here. There are many different cultivars available today in various sizes and forms, some of which have purplish-red leaves like the ‘Plum Delight’ and ‘Pizzazz.’ If you’re looking for a sprawling ground cover, consider the ‘Purple Pixie’ dwarf loropetalum that only grows to be 1-2 feet tall but spreads 4-5 feet. Loropetalums are evergreen and are very low-maintenance once established. They bloom best in full sun and when they are not over pruned which is a common mistake, particularly when planted under windows where they can quickly block views. So before you purchase your new loropetalum shrubs, do be sure to find out which cultivar they are and give them enough space to grow to maturity without needing excessive pruning. As a general rule of thumb, shrubs should be planted forward of the drip line of your roof and trees should be a minimum of 15 feet from building foundations.
For more information on this lovely Florida-friendly plant, call your UF/IFAS Marion County Extension Service at 352-671-8400 or visit the Gardening Solutions website.