Grow Guide for Loropetalum

how to grow loropetalum
Ruby Loropealum in full bloom found right here at our nursery.

The lovely loropetalum bush has quickly become one of the South’s most popular flowering shrubs. The fine-textured reddish purple foliage, fragrant long-lasting flowers, and attractively tiered branching pattern make it a great choice for evergreen shrub borders, foundation plantings or mass plantings, privacy hedges, and stand-alone specimens. Dark purple loropetalums shrubs are pretty in clusters, in informal hedges, or limbed up to form small trees. They can even be heavily pruned for formal hedges. Growing loropetalum is easy with this care guide full of tips and tricks.


Loropetalum Varieties

Perfect Plants offers a standard size variety, Loropetalum Zhuzhou (Loropetalum chinense rubrum ‘Zhuzhou’), that gets 10-15 feet tall, and a dwarf loropetalum version, Ruby loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense rubrum ‘Ruby’), that stays under 4-5 feet high. ‘Ruby’ can even be used as a large scale groundcover or low lying hedge. Both of these types of compact loropetalum have dark burgundy foliage color and bright pink flowers. Commonly called the Chinese Fringe Flower for their fringe-like flowers.

Other varieties of loropetalum are available (just ask us!). There are white flowered shrubs as well as ones with ruby red flowers. The growth habit of these shrubs is slow to medium. Loropetalum size will vary depending on variety.

Once your loropetalum order is placed, we ship your plant(s) within seven business days unless you request otherwise. Perfect Plants’ shipping specialists carefully package your plants using a proven packaging method that ensures your plants arrive healthy, colorfully alive, and ready to be planted. Regardless of how roughly the box is handled, the plant inside will not be damaged. 

Site Selection: Where to Plant Loropetalum?

loropetalum chinense shrub in the landscape
A Loropetalum Chinense shining bright in full sun at the LA County Arboretum | Photo by Vahe Martirosyan

Loropetalum hedges do best in partial shade or dappled shade, especially where summers are hot, as in USDA zones 9-11. A site with morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal. In loropetalum zone 7, a site with full sun and a southern exposure is desirable as they are not the most cold hardy. Once established, loropetalums are drought-tolerant, so proximity to a water source is usually not an issue. 

Loropetalum plants like a well-drained, loamy soil with plenty of organic matter. If your soil conditions are clayey and poorly drained, loropetalums will not do well. They simply do not tolerate wet feet, it will cause root rot. To test if it is well-drained soil, dig a hole 6” deep and 6” across, and fill it with water. If the water has not drained from the hole within three hours, it is too poorly drained soil for loropetalums. 

Loropetalum Soil pH

loropetalum soil pH meter
Always measure the soil pH if you are unsure about the planting site. It can make all the difference.

Loropetalums grow best in acidic soils that are acidic to slightly acidic, with pH values between 4.0 and 6.5. If your soil has a pH of 7.0 or higher, you should add sulfur to the soil before planting a loropetalum, just as you would for blueberries, camellias, and azaleas. You can test the soil acidity with a pH kit available at garden centers, or use the soil test kit available (sometimes free) from your county extension agent. Note that the soil close to a house’s foundation will likely have a higher pH than the rest of the yard due to the leaching of calcium compounds from the concrete block. So, check the soil pH in several places before deciding on the best location for your loropetalum.

If your soil pH is between 6.5 and 7.5, you can acidify it by adding elemental sulfur. Work the sulfur into the soil about 8” deep. (If your soil has a pH greater than 7.5, we recommend against trying to correct it for acid loving plants. Better to select a substitute shrub that is adapted to limey, calcareous soils.) 

To lower the pH of a typical loamy soil to 6.0

From Initial Soil
pH of
Work Elemental Sulfur
8 inches into the Soil
7.53.5 lbs/100 sq ft
7.02.0 lbs/100 sq ft
6.51.0 lbs/100 sq ft

Aluminum sulfate and iron sulfate will lower the pH more quickly than elemental sulfur, but they must be applied at five or six times the rate. Acidifying fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate, diammonium phosphate, urea, and ammonium nitrate also can be used to lower the pH. Follow label directions. If possible, you should get the soil pH corrected 6-9 months before planting your loropetalum. 

Best Time to Plant Loropetalum

Ruby Loropetalum
Loropetalums in the landscape look beautiful lined up near each other as a low lying shrub hedge or specimen plant.

The best time for planting any new shrub is spring, before it gets too hot, while still allowing the newbie a whole growing season to get established before winter. 

How to Plant Loropetalum

Before starting, thoroughly water the soil in the nursery pot your shrub came in, then place the pot on its side and slide the root ball out. If the plant is stuck, you can slip a long-bladed knife around the inside edge to loosen it. Gently loosen some of the roots along the sides and bottom of the root mass, and pull them outward so they are not encircling the root mass.

It shouldn’t be necessary to prune any of the root system unless it is wound around the circumference of the pot. In that case, the offending roots should be shortened so that when they are in the ground they will grow outward and not continue growing in a circle.

Dig a hole twice as wide as the nursery pot and just a little deeper. Mound up some soil in the middle of the hole, 3-6” high, and place the center of the root mass on top of the mound. Spread the roots outward all around in the hole. Backfill until the stem is at the same level it was in the original nursery pot, never lower. Do not add any fertilizer or amendments to the soil. You may have to pull the plant up as you backfill. Too shallow is better than too deep. When the hole is half-filled, give it and the roots a good soaking of water. When the water has drained, readjust the depth of the stem if necessary and finish filling in the hole. Gently tamp the soil down.

Build a 3-6 inch high dike of soil on the surface around the outside of the root zone. This will help impound water over the roots, allowing it to sink into the soil. Water thoroughly. Spread an organic mulch 3-6 inches deep over the root zone and a foot or two beyond to help hold in soil moisture and prevent weed growth. You can use hay, straw, leaves, pine needles, bark or wood chips, grass clippings, or compost. Do not use mushroom compost as this contains lime which will raise the pH. Do not fertilize at this time. 

Loropetalum Water Requirements

Keep your loropetalum well watered during its first growing season. If planted in the fall or winter, you can water once every week or two. Planted during the springtime growing season, they should get watered every day or two for three or four months. If you’re having a dry spell, or your soil type is very sandy, you should water every day for the first 2-4 months. The most common reason for any newly planted shrub to die is lack of enough water.

Loropetalum Care 

Renew the mulch layer as needed to protect the roots from drying out, freezing, or overheating, and to smother weeds. Loropetalums thrive with about an inch of water, either from rainfall or irrigation, per week. However, they can tolerate periods of drought better than many other shrubs, and most likely will not need supplemental watering after their first year. 

Loropetalum Fertilizer

It is a good idea to fertilize loropetalums every two months during the growing season (not in fall or winter) with a balanced fertilizer formulated for acid loving plants at ground level. We recommend using a slow release fertilizer. Follow label directions and be careful to not over-fertilize.

Loropetalum Problems

loropetalum purple leaves
Loropetalum foliage should remain dark colored… if yellowing or withering of leaves occurs then there is a problem | Photo by Megan Hansen

If you notice green leaves turning yellowish (chlorosis), it’s probably because the soil’s pH has gotten too high. You may need to re-acidify your soil every few years. Test the pH level to determine how much adjustment is needed. If acidification is called for, rake the mulch aside, apply elemental sulfur in a circle around the bush, then rake the mulch back. 

Loropetalums generally have few pests and diseases. They are deer resistant.

Loropetalum Pruning

These low maintenance shrubs generally require no pruning except to maintain the desired size. You can even prune your shrub into a loropetalum tree form if you wish. If you are going to do a major trim, the best time to prune loropetalums is after they are done flowering in spring so you do not cut off any forming flower buds. These spring flowering shrubs can tolerate light pruning at any time of the year.


Loropetalum comes from the Greek words strap and petalon in reference to the narrow purple leaves and flowers. The deep rich purple foliage holds its color all season combining colorful flowers and green foliage. It is a member of the witch hazel family. Buy loropetalum from our website and we will ship it right to your house.

You can grow loropetalums in your landscape to provide a year round burst of eye catching deep purple color. Their beautiful dark pink fringe flowers will bloom in late winter or early spring to give you vibrancy even in the coldest times of the year. Check out these easy to grow shrubs!