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March 3, 2018


My loropetalum large bush has begun to weep from one of the branches.  There are rings of holes around this branch.  Is this some type of borer and what should I do? Will it hurt my plant?


AnswerI think your plant has been attacked by a sapsucker bird.  These birds find a few favorite trees or large bushes and come back year after year.  While on a large tree they are more a nuisance than true harm, on a bush or small tree they can do enough feeding that they can actually girdle or kill a limb or two.  The sap is coming out of the wounds that they made.  Trying to deter them via scare devices is your only option. 


April 1, 2016

QuestionCan you tell me the name of the plant in our yard in Conway? I had never seen the plant before. The flowers are compound and the flower petals are pink and strap-like.  We would like to buy a few more but not sure what to ask for.


AnswerThe plant in question is a Loropetalum, sometimes called Chinese witchhazel.  This plant has numerous varieties and mature size can run the gamut from almost 6 inches high to 20 feet high, so if you are looking for a particular height, read the tags that come with the plant to make sure you get what you are looking for. In addition to the purple foliaged plants with pink flowers, there are also green leafed varieties with white blooms and a few variegated varieties with pink blooms.  They do well in full sun to partial shade.


March 26, 2016


I have 5 or so fairly large Loropetalum (5 feet tall though not very wide) as foundation plantings at the rear of my house.  Because of water issues they will need to be moved.  What is the best procedure to move them?  Cut them back then move them? Or move the entire plant?



Move them as soon as possible.  Loropetalum plants have been the prettiest I have ever seen them this spring, and most are still in full bloom. The best time to move shrubs is in the dormant season, which we are no longer in.  Moving them while they are dormant is preferable, but you don’t have that option any more.   The sooner you move them the easier the transition will be.  When I was in college they taught us to remove a third of the top-growth when transplanting, but that theory has changed, and now they recommend keeping as much of the foliage as possible to make food for the roots.  I would compromise and do what you can.  If you are not capable of moving a plant that large, prune to make it manageable and get it replanted quickly. It will probably look sad for a couple of weeks with wilting leaves, but if you keep it watered and mulched, it should recover and begin to grow again.  Baby it all summer and don’t forget to water while it is re-establishing a root system.


December 12, 2015

QuestionCould you please give me some information about a shrub called Carolina Midnight Loropetalum.  I saw it recently in a magazine and I think it might be good for my garden.  Will it grow in Cabot, Arkansas?



Loropetalums have become a favorite garden plant in Arkansas.  The evergreen dark purple foliage coupled with hot pink fringe flowers in the spring and then sporadically throughout the growing season has made it a popular choice.  It also grows in full sun to partial shade and is quite drought tolerant once it is established.  There are a multitude of varieties of loropetalum, and mature size can vary quite drastically.  The smallest one is Purple Pixie, growing no more than 8 inches to 18 inches in height but spreading.  It is slow growing.  Carolina Midnight is a taller introduction growing up to 10-15 feet tall at maturity.  Choose a variety that will only grow as tall as you need at maturity so you are not required to prune annually.  This one is probably a bit tall for a foundation planting, but would make a good screen or hedge.  A more moderately sized plant would be Plum Delight at 6-8 feet tall or even shorter Ruby at 3-5 feet tall. 


October 2015

QuestionIs it too late to trim loropetalum?  I have two that are way too tall for their place (next to our deck), and I'd love to trim them back 3 or 4 feet right now.  However, if it is too late we'll just wait until spring.


AnswerLoropetalum have set flower buds now for a spring display. If you prune them now, they will not bloom well in the spring—but the past two springs we did not have great blooming due to winter damage.  That is another reason I would hesitate to prune this late.  Pruning too much now will expose more of the plant to winter damage, should we have a cold one.  If possible wait to prune until after bloom in the spring. 



September 2012

QuestionWe have several loropetalums and have thus far have only pruned them when animals have broken limbs. We like the wild, natural look of the bushes, but they are getting a bit out of hand. Can you please give us tips on when and how much to prune them? We do not want to risk pruning at the wrong time and hindering flower production.


AnswerLoropetalums are beginning to have some blooms on them right now, but their main bloom period is early spring. Immediately after bloom is when they should be pruned, if needed. Some varieties can get quite large. Many of the early varieties that were supposed to get no larger than 4-5 feet, are small trees now, so prune heavily if they are overgrown. You can also move them to an area where they can grow large, and opt for new varieties that are smaller at maturity.

April 2012

QuestionWe have a hedge of loropetalum plants across the front of our house. Every spring, after bloom, we trim them back; however, we need to trim again late July, early August which allows for only a few blooms. How severe should these plants be cut back and when?


AnswerI think the problem you are having is that when you prune after bloom, you prune to the exact size or height you are looking for, which allows no room for new growth—thus the need to reprune in late summer. For all spring blooming plants, I say no pruning after June 15. These spring bloomers set their flower buds in late summer/early fall. Pruning in late July and August doesn’t allow enough recovery time for new growth, and thus, less flowers. Cut them back after bloom more severely than you think, allowing room for the new seasons growth. Then don’t prune again until next spring, after bloom.

March 2012

QuestionWe are searching for replacement evergreen trees where dead Leyland Cypress had been removed from our backyard. They had been a screen between our house and a neighbor. We would like to have something that won't get over 10 to 12 feet in height, that will remain green year-round and that will allow flowering plants between them and the front of the bed and still provide the screen against the chain link fence between houses. The bed is approximately 25 - 30 feet in length and 8 - 15 feet wide. The trees will face the South (our house faces East) so will get at least 6 hours of full sun daily. We would appreciate your suggestions for that space. We have seen so many evergreens labeled "emerald green arborvitae" but according to the information can grow as high as 60 feet and 6 - 8 feet wide. Can those that are said to grow so tall be trimmed back in height as they grow? Thank you for any information to assist us in making our decision.


AnswerIf all you want is a plant that gets 10-12 feet tall, then choose a plant that has that as its maximum height. Especially if you plant something like the green giant arborvitae that can reach 60 feet tall, you will have to constantly prune, which makes a large hedge a constant work in progress. Some better choices include the Nelly R Stevens holly, cleyera, winter honeysuckle, or even one of the loropetalum varieties. Some varieties grow taller than 12 feet, others much shorter.

February 2012

QuestionCan I prune back my loropetalum now? They have really gotten large.


AnswerMy loropetalum are blooming, and have been off and on since December. Normally, they are an early spring bloomer and should be pruned after they finish flowering. If you think yours have finished blooming, or you don’t mind losing blooms, you can prune them, but I would hold off a month or two.

March 2012

QuestionMy home in Colony West faces west and the front beds are empty now that all of the original azaleas have passed away. They were planted in 1970 and extended along the 60 foot front of the bed. There are four large Pine trees directly centered in the front and one very large Pine tree at the southern most part of the front of the house. At the north end of the house is a rather large Holly bush (tree), perhaps standing 10 feet tall. Originally, Holly was placed at each end of the front bed to anchor the beds and the Azaleas residing along the length of the bed. I need your recommendation on a plant/tree/shrub selection and your ideas regarding planting, soil addition, etc. I need something hardy that will last. Also, do you think the plants/shrubs/trees sold by the big box stores like are very safe? I think a local nursery would be safer in the long run regarding the viability and health issues of native plants, etc.


AnswerYou do need a basic grouping of evergreen plants so that you have something that is green year-round, but adding some deciduous plants can give you great color in the summer. While your yard faces west, it sounds like the pine trees shade it from intense sun. If you like azaleas, by all means replace some. There are numerous plants that you can choose from and diversity is good. I like to have something blooming in every season. Possibly sasanqua camellias for winter, azaleas and loropetalums for spring color and Itea and buddleia for summer blooms. Take pictures of your front yard and do a sketch of your yard on graph paper. Take that to your local nursery and they can help you plan how many plants you need and can give you other options. You don’t have to buy everything from a nursery, but if there are specific plants or varieties you want, independent nurseries usually have better selections.

November 2011

QuestionWe need some suggestions or ideas for an evergreen barrier that will get to 3-4 ft tall in pm sun on the south and west side of our yard. We want to run this about 100 ft long. Water is no problem. Types and spacing ideas would be greatly appreciated.


AnswerThere are a wide range of plants that stay in the 3-4 foot range including compacta hollies, loropetalum—both green leafed and purple leafed (check variety height), Indian hawthorne, boxwoods and even nandinas. All will take full sun. For a denser hedge, stagger the planting in a zigzag pattern instead of in a straight row.

June 2010

QuestionI live in Maumelle and have about ten loropetalum shrubs. They have been planted for four years. I want to move two of them. The two that I need to move are about six feet tall and about six feet across. They are growing into our tulip tree. I could prune one or the other, but I believe I planted them too close together and this will be a recurring problem. Have I waited too long to move them?


AnswerI would prefer you wait until fall or early next spring. We had a glorious spring this year but we are heading into our warmest months, and moving a plant now will be stressful to the plant. If you absolutely must move them do so as soon as possible and water, water, water. The plants will wilt daily for probably a good two to three weeks or more until the roots begin to re-establish themselves. As large as the plants are it will be hard for a severed root system to keep up. If you can move them while they are dormant, the roots have a chance to re-establish themselves while the tops are not actively growing.

April 2009

QuestionMy loropetalum have gotten too large despite trimming each quarter. I did not plant the smaller version and they are too large as foundations plants. Is there a way to trim them that retains their natural flowing look? When I trim them they look like balls!


AnswerActually, I had the same problem with one in my front landscape. Even with severe pruning many Loropetalum chinense, or Chinese witch-hazel plants continued to outgrow their location, and pruning will be an annual chore. While there are methods to prune more naturally, the larger loropetalums will constantly require more and more pruning, if they are needed at a diminutive height. Constant pruning will impact the number of flowers you have. You have a few options. I tree-formed mine, limbing up all the lower branches to expose the main trunk. This allows me to see out my window and gives me a beautiful flowering small tree, which needs little pruning, except to remove interior suckers each year. I was surprised at how beautiful the bark is. Another option would be to move these larger varieties to a location where they can grow at will, and plant some of the true dwarf loropetalum varieties like ‘Purple Pixie’.

May 2008

QuestionI have a loropetalum that is eight years old and about nine feet tall and wide. It is planted out in the open yard with full sun. It has done wonderfully over the years and flowers profusely in the spring. It is misshapen and needs to be trimmed badly. When can I trim and how much can I cut back? It has never been trimmed. Thank you for your help.


AnswerThere are numerous varieties of loropetalums and some of them can get out of control, both in size and width. If pruning is needed, try to do it as soon as possible. Loropetalum, or Fringe flower as it is often called, bloom early in the spring with sporadic displays of flowers throughout the summer. You want to allow plenty of time for the plant to recover so prune as soon after flowering as possible, or no later than late June. You can take it back by more than a half or more if needed, but on average try not to remove more than a third of the plant at one pruning.

July 2010

QuestionIs it too late to drastically prune azaleas without interfering with their blooming next spring? Same question about loropetalums.


AnswerI prefer to get the pruning done as soon after flowering in the spring as possible on both plants so they can recover and set plenty of flower buds in late August-September. June was so miserably hot that it did not encourage a lot of new growth. Usually July is not a great month for new growth due to heat, humidity and lack of rainfall. It all depends on the summer. Severe pruning is definitely out of the question, but even light pruning is discouraged past mid June, especially if it is really hot. If you can, wait until next spring. If you have to prune do as little as possible and do so ASAP and keep up with water needs.

April 2005

QuestionMy loropetalums seem to bloom all summer. When should they be trimmed back? They are already in full bloom. Also, what are the white trees blooming now that you see out in the woods when you drive down a highway?


AnswerWhile loropetalums can have scattered blooms throughout the season, their peak bloom is now. They are loaded with blooms. Prune only if needed, after this period of bloom. The trees in the woods could either be wild plums or serviceberry trees. Dogwoods are just beginning.

April 2005

QuestionMy loropetalums seem to bloom all summer. When should they be trimmed back? They are already in full bloom. Also, what are the white trees blooming now that you see out in the woods when you drive down a highway?


AnswerWhile loropetalums can have scattered blooms throughout the season, their peak bloom is now. They are loaded with blooms. Prune only if needed, after this period of bloom. The trees in the woods could either be wild plums or serviceberry trees. Dogwoods are just beginning.

January 2006

QuestionThe front of our home faces southwest and receives full afternoon sun in the summer. There is a raised bed that contains a crepe myrtle surrounded by compacta holly. I recently removed a Japanese maple the previous owner had planted in the same bed. Size wise it was dwarfed by the crepe myrtle and temperature wise it baked all summer. I considered another crepe myrtle but wanted something evergreen to provide some winter color / interest and shelter for birds. There is good but not deep soil in the bed and it is irrigated. The plant would be in front of a brick wall that radiates heat from the summer sun. I would like something that would grow to 15 to 20' and not more than 10-12' in diameter. I have considered several tree form hollies. Is there a particular variety you would recommend or some other type of ornamental tree / shrub that thrives in full sun and heat?


AnswerYou were wise to move the Japanese maple. They don't thrive in afternoon sun, especially during a particularly hot summer. There are several options for you. A multi-trunked yaupon holly can be nice, or the deciduous holly--while not evergreen, the berries give good winter color. A Little Gem southern magnolia is a nice smaller evergreen plant with fantastic white summer blooms. If left unchecked it can grow taller, but it is a slow grower and quite compact when young. A large shrub which if left to grow could become tree-like that is gaining in popularity is the Loropetalum. It is evergreen with purple foliage year-round, loves the sun and has bright pink spring flowers.


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