Loropetalum, Loves and Lies

We’ve been fascinated with the woody plant genus Loropetalum since the late J.C. Raulston first distributed the pink-flowered forms, which had just come into to cultivation in the US, back in 1989. Since those original plants were propagated and sold, many nurseries have tried to one up each other with a barrage of new introductions. Today, we have documented 68 named cultivars of Loropetalum, of which we currently grow only 22. Below are a few from JLBG, which are currently in full flower.

Sadly, most folks mistakenly think these are foundation shrubs, thanks to unscrupulous retailers. Most, are in fact, either large shrubs or small trees. Yes, if you’re into plant mutilation as a form of legal S&M, you can shear them into bizarre boxes and meatballs, but do you really think this is a good idea? Do you really hate natural beauty that much?

Below are a few named selections with their advertised sizes and their actual sizes, so you can plant them in the proper place. Winter hardiness is Zone 7b-9b.

Loropetalum ‘Snow Panda’ has been truly outstanding for us. It was introduces as maturing at 10′ tall x 9′ wide, and our 7-year-old plant is now 7′ tall x 12′ wide.

Loropetalum chinense ‘Snow Panda’

Loropetalum ‘Zhouzhou‘ is sold as ‘Zhoushou Fuchsia‘ and as ‘Pipa’s Red’. These are listed as maturing at 5′ tall x 6′ wide and 12′ tall x 12′ wide, depending on which name is on the tag. The reality is that it matures at 30′ tall x 20′ wide, as you can see below with our 27-year -old specimen.

Loropetalum chinense ‘Zhouzhou’

Loropetalum ‘Ruby Snow’ is a fascinating chimeral misfit (think schizophrenic) selection with both white and pink flowers. The introducer touts it as maturing at 6′ tall x 6′ wide, but our 6-year-old specimen is already 8′ tall x 14′ wide, so this will get far larger than the tags indicate.

Loropetalum chinense ‘Ruby Snow’

Loropetalum ‘Daruma‘ is an extremely heavy flowering selection that is sold as maturing at 5′ tall x 5′ wide, but this isn’t even close. The 6-year-old specimen below is already 6′ tall x 9′ wide, and our oldest specimen had to be removed from its original location after it reached 16′ tall x 16’ wide.

Loropetalum chinense 'Daruma'
Loropetalum chinense ‘Daruma’

Loropetalum ‘Shang Hi’, sold under the marketing name Purple Diamond, is touted as maturing at 5′ tall x 5′ wide. Ooops–our 14-year-old plant is already 15′ tall x 15′ wide. Perhaps we need to give remedial measuring courses to some of our nursery folks.

Loropetalum chinense 'Shang Hi'
Loropetalum chinense ‘Shang Hi’

Loropetalum ‘GrifCRL‘, marketed as Little Rose Dawn, is incredible in flower, but it’s marketed as maturing at 10′ tall x 10′ wide, and our 16-year-old specimen is now 18′ tall x 18’ wide.

Loropetalum 'GrifCRL' - Little Rose Dawn
Loropetalum ‘GrifCRL’ – Little Rose Dawn

Loropetalum ‘Crimson Fire’ is much more red than most selections. The introducer claims it will mature at 4′ tall x 5′ wide, but our 6-year-old plants are already 10′ tall x 10′ wide.

Loropetalum chinense 'Crimson Fire'
Loropetalum chinense ‘Crimson Fire’

These are just a few of the amazing selections, but keep in mind to never trust plant tags when it comes to where you should plant your plants to keep from needing to butcher them.. Until nurseries and plant introducers learn to care more about the end consumer’s success, it’s always a good idea to visit botanic gardens and determine the true size for yourself.

7 thoughts on “Loropetalum, Loves and Lies”

  1. Maryann Witalec Keyes

    So true. I am now in the process of moving two camellias which were labelled to have an ultimate height of four feet. They are now 15 feet tall and have outgrown their location.

  2. It makes me think that the plant hybridizers are in such a rush to market the newest and most Pinterest-worthy that they don’t take the time (in years) to allow things to reach their mature height. I recommend that labels simply say ‘Mature size unknown’ if the plant breeders would agree to that.

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