• November 22, 2014

Purple Diamond loropetalum stunning in gardens

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Posted: Saturday, March 22, 2014 4:30 am

A cluster of three Purple Diamond loropetalums are creating a stunning “wow factor” at our garden and they can do the same in your landscape. What is even more impressive is that they are doing this in a garden with 900 plus camellias and dozens of azaleas. In other words, they are among the showiest plants in a garden chock full of dazzling beauty.

Botanically speaking they are known as Loropetalum chinensis with a lot of gardeners knowing them as Chinese fringe flower. Purple Diamond is different: It’s compact, reaching about 5 feet tall and is slightly spreading versus the 15 foot skyscraper that I have at my home and maybe at yours, too.

The first loropetalums around were white flowered selections, but it is the red and burgundy varieties that have captured the hearts of gardeners everywhere since the early 1990s. Unfortunately back then, gardeners thought they were dainty little shrubs and planted them too close to the house, sidewalk and even other shrubs. It is not uncommon now to see them as crowded trees in older plantings.

In recent years there have been great strides made in varieties from the truly super dwarf and spreading to the compact. The evergreen or, in this case, the ever-purple foliage gives year round interest and are mesmerizing in bloom.

If you need a selection even shorter, then Purple Pixie is the choice for you. To be honest, if it never bloomed I would still love it for its habit and texture. It is remarkable in a large container where its dark purple foliage tumbles over the edge.

It reaches about 2 feet in height with a spread of 4 feet. So while in a container you may want to do a little tip pruning, in the landscape it is a superb groundcover.

Like Purple Pixie, Purple Diamond has dark purple foliage and flowers that are reddish purple and seem to glow almost iridescently and are incredibly visual from a great distance. They are both cold hardy to around zero and recommended for zones 7-10.

No matter what loropetalum you choose they perform best in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade as along our Judge Arthur Solomon Camellia Trail. Plant them in well-drained, organic-rich beds that are slightly acidic. I like to emphasize the part about planting in beds. When

planting loropetalums, or any other shrub, put them in a well-prepared bed instead of sticking them in a patch of turf.

The Loropetalum is an environmentally friendly plant, as it is not known to have any serious pests.

The idea of putting a $5 plant in a $10 planting hole has merit when planting your loropetalum.

Dig your hole two to three times as wide as the root ball and plant at the same depth that it is growing in its container or even an inch higher.

Backfill with the soil dug from the hole and add a good layer of mulch.

In the landscape, consider planting Purple Diamond with white blooming trees such as ornamental pears, Yoshino cherries, and dogwoods with informal drifts of daffodils.

Purple Pixie would be great in front of white azaleas, along a dry stream bed or a rock garden with pockets of yellow daffodils.

With these loropetalums the certainty is that you will be creating a garden worthy of a painting.

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