Monday, April 9, 2012

Loropetalum: The best plant ever

Each of my posts so far has been a recommendation for something I’ve used and enjoyed, but mostly in the technology category. Today’s post may seem very different, but techie people like to garden too, and I promise you I will tie in some technology.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
If you want to pick some new plants for your yard, there are several things you will need to consider first such as light conditions and space, but you definitely want something that is rated to grow in your zone. Check the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to get started.

I did a quick on-line search and the Loropetalum says it grows in zones 7-10. I was surprised it does not go to zone 6, but 7-10 covers a lot of the U.S. so I believe many readers can consider this plant.

What I find to be one of the best features of this plant is that it is an evergreen. In other words, it does not lose its leaves in the winter. But, ironically, it’s not always green and that’s one of the things I also like about it.

This plant’s leaves change colors a couple of times a year from green to burgundy. They also flower a couple of times a year so they provide a lot of interest. Each of these changes will depend on the exact variety and the location planted. There are some varieties that do not produce the leaf color change, and I was told before I planted mine that light conditions can also affect this.

The loropetalum likes full to partial sun so that’s the first thing you should check for your proposed location. Landscape experts will say that for a location to qualify for full sun there needs to be at least six hours of sun. Other than physically checking an area several times a day, you can use an app that will assist with this.

Sun Surveyor Lite App
A professional photographer friend of mine uses these types of apps when he’s scouting locations to get the best shots based on where the sun is in the sky, but this can work for gardening, too. One of the things you will start to learn is that full sun in the summer is not always full sun in the winter based on the angle of the sun. But this also won’t matter as much for something that is dormant in the winter.

Sun Surveyor Lite is a great little free app that will give you a visual of how the sun travels over your property during one day or you can set it to show you what the sun will do over a span of a year. There is also a paid version and this is part of the description: “View through the phone's camera, visualize where the sun and moon will be in the sky, or when they will move behind a building.” I can see this being extra helpful for landscapers that can’t spend hours at a new location to determine the lighting conditions.

Sizzlin' Pink Loropetalum March 2011
One of the main reasons I planted my loropetalums where I did is that they grow tall and rather quickly. The first one I planted was to fill an awkward corner. I didn’t need it to be very wide, but wanted it to be at least as tall as the fence. I also wanted something pretty to view from a window that looks directly onto that corner.

The particular variety I have is Sizzlin’ Pink and it’s supposed to get 6-8 feet tall and only about 4-5 feet wide. There are, however, varieties that only get a couple of feet tall to varieties that get at least 12 feet tall and 12 feet wide.

Another great thing about the loropetalum is how they can grow into such a wonderful, loose, but symmetrical shape—that’s how I’ve kept mine. Or you can trim them into shapes—balls or rectangles—and fashion them into hedges. They will get much denser if pruned regularly.

Loropetalums just planted July 2010 (mostly green)
I enjoyed my first loropetalum so much that a couple of years later I decided that it would make a great privacy screen for the other side of my yard. I went back to Pike Nursery—where I bought the first one—and they did not have that particular variety in stock. I attempted to pick out another variety, but nothing was rated to be just the right size so they offered to order the Sizzlin’ Pink. There was no extra charge to order these, so don’t be afraid to ask at your local nursery if you don’t see what you want or need.

Loropetalums April 2012 (mostly burgundy)
TIP: If you are going to buy more than one of any type of flowering plant, buy them while they are flowering. This isn’t always possible, but the color is sometimes noted incorrectly from the grower and unless you want to have to dig up and replace, this will just save you some extra work.

I believe that if you live in the correct zone and have the correct light conditions, you will find that the loropetalum will be a great addition to your landscape.

Questions: Do you have a plant that you recommend? Is there a gardening app that you like?


  1. I enjoyed this post I am considering planting burgundy lorapetelums at my house. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Kris, I do not think you'll regret it. I continue to enjoy mine and to be amazed at how much more beautiful they become as time goes on.

  3. Very nice. Informative post. I was surprised how fast they grew in 2 years!

    1. Jessica, They grew a lot over this past year and were almost 10 feet tall but very spindly, so a couple of months ago, I trimmed them down to about 7 feet tall and in just these couple of months, they've filled in nicely, look more like a hedge, and are giving me some really great privacy. Still so happy with this choice.