The Chinese Fringe Flower or Loropetalum chinense [lor-oh-PET-al-um, chi-NEN-see] is one of the most visually pleasing plants for the landscape.
Native to China, Japan, and other parts of Southeast Asia, this evergreen flowering shrub belongs to the Hamamelidaceae family, better known as the witch-hazel family.
Aptly, a popular common name for the plant is the Chinese witch-hazel.
The genus name is a derivative of Greek words loron and petalon, which mean strap and leaf/petal respectively.
The specific epithet, on the other hand, refers to the Chinese nativity of the plant.
The striking foliage and beautiful small flowers are a great addition to a garden in need of fantastic year-round garden interest.
Loropetalum Chinense Plant Care
Size & Growth
When all the right growing conditions are provided to the strap flower, it adds a burst of color to the garden in the form of a large shrub.
It can grow up to a magnificent height between 12’ and 15’ feet with an approximately 10’ foot spread.
There are smaller and more compact varieties, growing up to a maximum of 2’ to 3’ along with medium varieties growing around 4′ – 6′ feet tall.
The common fringe flower has alternately-arranged ovate leaves.
They have a slightly abrasive feel and are 1″ – 2” inches long and 1″ inch wide.
The common species grows light to olive-green leaves in arching branches.
These change colors with the season in some USDA zones to a red or yellow but remain green in others.
Loropetalum chinense var rubrum, on the other hand, has reddish-purple to burgundy foliage.
Flowering and Fragrance
Flower color for L. chinense species depends on the variety.
The common Chinese witch-hazel has creamy white flowers.
Varieties like “Fire Dance”, “Raspberry Fringe”, and “Daruma” have pink flowers, ranging from dark pink and fuchsia to blush.
Each flower has narrow twisted, spidery, strap-shaped petals; hence, the common name strap flower.
Come the bloom time in late winter, they start appearing in clusters and continue adding interest until early spring.
They are lightly aromatic.
Light & Temperature
Full sun to part sun is what this Chinese witch-hazel plant needs.
Full sun in the wee hours of the morning will help produce more vibrantly-colored flowers.
However, some partial shade from the afternoon sun will help.
As for temperatures, these plants are winter-hardy.
They thrive and produce the deepest colors when the temperatures go down.
In fact, they can go down to 5° degrees Fahrenheit (-15° C), meaning they are hardy to USA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10.
Watering and Feeding
Since the plant has average water needs, occasional or infrequent watering is all they require to be healthy.
Be very careful about overwatering the plants as the Chinese fringe flower is prone to root rot. To prevent this, mulch the plants.
For optimal flowering and new growth, feed the plants with slow-release and balanced granular fertilizer.
Dilute the formula in water and feed the root area two or three times in the year.
Soil & Transplanting
Organically rich and fertile soil is of preference here.
Light, well-drained soil mixtures are the best way to go for witch hazel plants.
If you’re using a heavier soil type, it’s important you improve its drainage and be careful about watering or it may harm the plant.
Transplanting is recommended when you’re propagating the plant.
Semi-ripe root cuttings are transferred to 1-gallon containers and then moved into the ground.
Choose a sunny location which gets plenty of sunlight with some afternoon shade.
Transplant in the summer with some bottom heat for better results.
Grooming and Maintenance
When it comes to maintenance, mulching is something you need to be careful with.
As the temperatures start dipping, mulch the plants to prevent root rot.
As for pruning, remove leggy shoots to bring the new growth forward.
Once the plant has bloomed, deadheading is encouraged.
You don’t have to shape the plants but may do so if you’re using them as a hedge or in containers.
How to Propagate Chinese Fringe Plant
Propagation is best done with semi-ripe root cuttings.
When the plant has new growth, take cuttings in the summer and transplant them in containers or in the ground.
You may dip the bottom in a rooting hormone as it may encourage better rooting.
Chinese Fringe Plant Pest or Diseases
Chinese fringe plants are mostly free of pest and disease issues.
There may be some susceptibility to mites and aphids, but they are easy to treat and prevent.
If your plant is growing in very alkaline soils, chlorosis may occur.
Also, heavy soils and poor drainage can lead to root rot.
Loropetalum Chinense Plant Uses
Whether you use the species for mass planting, in containers or as landscape plants, they look incredible.
Put them in foundation plantings, hedges, garden borders, and even in woodland areas without any worries as they are deer-resistant.