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CHINESE FRINGE FLOWER

The Chinese Fringe-Flower (Loropetalum chinense) is a plant that I had not heard of until recently. Introduced in the US in the early 1990's, this shrub with purple leaves has fringy flowers that have been described as hot pink. It blooms in late winter to early spring and sporadically throughout the summer. It can be transplanted year round.

The height is 6-15 feet, and it spreads 8-10 feet. In an article that I read about using woody ornamentals as cut flowers, it was suggested that the Loropetalum branches could be cut and used in the home and forced for early bloom.

There is an excellent specimen in the IDEA Garden, which is located in the Tyler Rose Garden. The color of the bloom is really outstanding.

Recently I bought some of these plants without realizing how big they will become. I'm glad that I have them, but I think I will move them to a more appropriate location.

Mary Davis, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service


FRINGE FLOWER

Do you have the perfect spot aesthetically for a Japanese Maple tree but the location is way to hot? Try planting a Loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense) aka Fringe Flower, instead. Just choose a "leggy" specimen, pick the strongest looking stem/stems for the trunk and trim away the others, shaping it as it grows. You can form a beautiful tree that is "evergreen" where the leaves change from green to purple and you get hot pink sprays of blooms twice a year! It can get quite large, so give it plenty of room in sun or partial shade. There is a lovely example in the Idea Garden located in the southeast corner of the Tyler Rose Garden.

Try pruning other bushy shrubs into trees. I've seen a huge Red Tip Photinia (Photinia fraiseri) that shades a backyard Bar-B-Que area with the lowest branches 7 feet from the base. It took a few second looks to figure out what it was!

Azalea "trees" are options to pulling out those old spindly azaleas that have such thick stems that you don't want to chance tweaking your pruners on them. Use a hand saw if necessary to cut off unsightly branches and shape into a graceful specimen. Then, plant a dwarf variety of azalea in front of it or try some evergreens such as autumn or holly ferns to soften the knobby knees of the trunk.

Cleyeras and Hawthorns would work, too. If your shrubs look too "heavy" and you're not trying to make a screen, open them up with selective pruning. You will discover a whole new look for a common overgrown bush. Get creative and have fun!

Dorothy Hersey, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas AgriLife Extension Service


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