For an elegant addition to your landscape, Loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense), also known as Chinese fringe flower, provides year-round interest with lustrous evergreen foliage and dramatic spring flowers. Its popularity has risen because of its ease of care, adaptability and the beauty of both green-leaf and red-leaf varieties. Many dwarf cultivars, both upright and spreading ground-cover types, help make this outstanding ornamental shrub a beautiful and practical choice for your home.
In late winter into early spring, green-leaf fringe flowers shine with glossy, dark foliage and creamy white flowers. The leaves may remind you of honeysuckle, but the flowers immediately bring fringe flower's relative, witch hazel, to mind. The fragrant blooms appear at the end of its branches and all along them where the leaves connect. Appearing in bunches of three to six, the four-petaled flowers billow like ribbons in a gorgeous display that lasts two to three weeks. Occasionally, they rebloom later in the year. Red-leaf types may have reddish new foliage that later shifts to green or foliage that stays rich burgundy all year long. Their flowers come in vibrant shades of pink-red, magenta, soft pink and even white with pink stripes.
While full-size fringe flower grows to 10 to 15 feet in height and width, many cultivated dwarf varieties reach only half that size or less. Their shapes and sizes range from upright forms 3 to 6 feet in height and spread to low-growing types that stay below 3 feet in height but grow twice that wide. If your space or taste dictates it, even dwarf cultivars respond exceptionally well to pruning and can be kept even smaller. All will look best when pruned in keeping with their attractive natural shape.
Several upright dwarf cultivars stand out for their compact size and exceptional attributes. Carolina Moonlight fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense "NCI002") offers olive-green leaves and profuse, creamy white blooms as it reaches 5 to 6 feet in height and width. "Ruby" (Loropetalum chinense "Ruby") exhibits lovely red new foliage that ages to green, with dense, pinkish-purple flowers. It reaches 4 to 5 feet in both height and width. "Suzanne" (Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum "Suzanne") stays at 3 to 4 feet in height and spread with deep maroon foliage and fragrant, hot-pink flowers. Crimson Fire (Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum "PIILC-I") matures to a compact mound 2 to 3 feet in height and width with ruby-red foliage and brilliant pink flowers. These dwarf shrubs are all suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9.
Among low, ground-cover-type fringe flowers, two in particular are notable for their versatility and beauty. Snow Muffin (Loropetalum chinense "Snowmound") stays 1 to 3 feet in height while spreading 3 to 6 feet in width. It bears abundant white flowers with olive-green leaves and is suitable for USDA zones 7 through 9. Purple Pixie (Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum "Peack") has a lovely weeping and spreading habit, reaching just 1 to 2 feet in height as it spreads 4 to 5 feet in width. Suitable for USDA zones 7 through 10, its deep purple foliage pairs beautifully with its bright pink flowers.