Loropetalum var rubrum
Loropetalum var rubrum
Loropetalum Crimson Fire™
Loropetalum Ever Red®
Loropetalum Little Red Dawn®
Loropetalum Ruby Parfait™
Loropetalum Ruby Snow™
Loropetalum Sparkling Sangria™

Loropetalum chinense and var. rubrum Checklist

 

  Michael A. Dirr

  Plant Introductions, Inc.

  Info@plantintroductions.com

 

               Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum, a sea-change ornamental plant, now supra-abundant in zones 7 to 9, qualifies for the Gardener’s Hall of Fame.  I embraced it from 1991, when the Arnold Arboretum shared a plant of what would eventually be named ‘Burgundy’.  ‘Blush’, from the U.S. National Arboretum, soon followed, and to this day new introductions are arriving with over 50 cultivars in the milieu.   Credit James Waddick, Kansas City, Dr. J. C. Raulston, Dr John Creech, and Professor Y.Q.  Huo, Barry Yinger, Rick Crowder and the Southern Plant Group for increasing the var. rubrum gene pool.  Breeders and selectors work their magic and the nursery industry and gardens are richer.   

               Greatness in a new introduction often proves ephemeral, based solely on marketing hype.  With no marketing, simply word of mouth, positive experience, and sheer beauty, this pink-flowered, red-purple, evergreen foliage shrub is now part of the fabric of the southeastern and warm climate landscapes.  (See J. Environ Hort 14(1):38-41, 1996), (American Nurseryman 178(6):7, 12-13, 1993), (Nursery Management and Production 11:30-31, 1995).

What makes a great nursery and landscape plant? My thoughts…..

·        Beauty, defined by flower, fruit, and foliage color; habit, and texture.

·        Extended seasons of color, ideally year-round.

·        Presentation in containers … it sparkles for the customer…”Container Presence”.

·        Consistent, reliable garden performance, i.e., easy to grow, ideally adaptable to many zones, say 5-9. Unfortunately  only  zones 7 to 9 for Loropetalum.

·        Insect and disease resistances translate to a sustainable garden plant.

·        Deer resistance – immeasurable quality where deer are problematic; often the first question in my plant lectures … “is it deer resistant?”

·        Heat and drought tolerance once established.

·        Range of sizes to satisfy myriad landscape niches.  Many cultivars are described as dwarf or compact yet are anything but. Purple Pixie® and ‘Bill Wallace’ are about the smallest.  ‘Blush’, ‘Burgundy’, ‘Zhuzhou  Fuchsia’ and others can reach 20’ or more.

·        Easily pruned/maintained without excessive labor inputs.

·        Minimal to no invasive tendencies (I know seedlings occur in nurseries; none in Dirr garden in 23 years. Dr. David Creech, Stephen F. Austin State University, reported seedlings popping up in the collections at the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden where water and mulch are consistent.).

·        Nursery friendly – relatively easy to propagate and grow in containers.

Variety rubrum answers the bells on most of the above counts.  Over the past two plus decades a liitle leaf malady/deformation caused by copper deficiency was identified as an issue.  Easily solved with increased copper in production. Appears to be somewhat cultivar dependent and I have yet to observe the little leaf problem on plants in the Dirr garden.   Active soft growth is susceptible to freezing temperatures.  Any temperature below 0° F will result in some (total) damage. ‘Zhuzhou Fuchsia’ is the most cold hardy taxon and I  have observed it growing in Cincinnati, Ohio.

        A testament to var. rubrum’s popularity was verified by Flowerwood Nursery, Mobile, AL during the Tri-brands meeting in October 2013.  Flowerwood listed Purple Diamond® and Purple Pixie® as the top selling plants in the Southern Living Plant Collection.  Greenleaf Nursery, 2013-14, listed/offered 13 loropetalums.  At Plant Introductions Inc., we continue to breed for the traits listed above and introduced Crimson Fire™ (2013), and Sparkling Sangria™ (2014).  Mark Griffith’s relationship with Dr. Huo led to Ever Red® and Little Rose Dawn™, the former still the best for close to true red flowers and the deepest purple-black foliage.  Worth noting the Southern Plant Group via Garden Debut® will introduce Ruby Snow™ and Ruby Parfait™.  See descriptions under those plants.

        A major contribution would be increased cold hardiness for a zone 6 designation would accelerate use and demand.  Without equivocation, var. rubrum is among the most beautiful, reliable, and cherished of recently introduced garden plants.  Containers, hedges, groupings, masses, small trees … allow the design mind to wander … our gardens are richer because of its presence.

        The future? Cloudy, but I have read several papers by Chinese Scientists (HortScience 42:399-402, 2007) that portend more var. rubrum selections for improved ornamental traits.  The work cited above characterized 23 accessions collected from Liuyang City, Hunan Province, for phenotypic diversity.  Four were selected: 1. for abundant flowers in the spring and autumn; 2. vivid red flowers; 3. dark purple leaf, underside red; and 4. glossy dark green leaves and pink flowers.  This study showed that considerable variation is available for breeding.

        Until this germplasm reaches the United States, savor the many flowers of the cultivars presented in the checklist.  I included green and red-purple leaf taxa.  Those treated in the Dirr Manual (1999) or Encyclopedia (2011) are only listed by name/or with a few pertinent comments.  A (D) indicates this approach.

 Loropetalum Checklist

Green Leaf Cultivars

·        Carolina Moonlight® (‘NC I002’, PP 18,977) (D)

·        ‘Compactum’ (D)

·        ‘Eco Fragrant Cushion’ (D)

·        Emerald Snow™ (‘Shang White’ PP 21,738) (D)

·        ‘Green Elf’ (D)

·        Hillier Form (D)

·        Jade Confetti™ (‘DSNH 1206’ PPAF) - Jade green leaves, white flowers, 6 to 8’ by 4 to 6’, introduced via Garden Debut®

·        ‘Shidare’ (‘Pendula’) (D)

·        Snow Dance™ (D)

·        Snow Muffin® (‘Snowmound’ PP 11,766) (D)

·        ‘Snow Panda’ (NA 75507 PI 660659) from wild collected seed, Hubei, China by U.S.  National Arboretum, 1994, loosely vase-shaped with arching branches, white flowers, 10’ x 8 ½’ in 10 years; selected in 2006 with cooperation of Monrovia Growers

·        Variegated Form (D)

Red/Purple Leaf and/or Pink Flowered Cultivars

·        ‘Bicolor’ (D)

·        ‘Bill Wallace’ (PP 15,277) (D)

·        ‘Blush’ (‘Mansaku’, Razzleberri™, ‘Monraz’) (D)

·        ‘Burgundy’ (‘Akabana’) (D)

·        ‘Burgundy Blast’ – Rich burgundy new leaves,  matures to purple-green, hot pink flowers, 6 to 8’ by 6 to 8’, Greenleaf Nursery

·        ‘Carolina Midnight’ (D)

·        ‘Carolina Ruby Red’ – Large habit, 10 to 15’ by 10 to 15’, burgundy foliage, fuchsia pink flowers; Nurseries Caroliniana, Inc. introduction

·        Cerise Charm™ (‘Kurobijin’, PP 23,176) – Bright burgundy foliage all year; hot pink flowers, 2 to 3’ by 3’ from Ball Ornamentals, Inc

·        ‘Chang’s Ruby’ (D)

·        ‘Cherry Blast’ – Year round cherry red foliage, cherry red flowers; relatively compact habit; 6’ by 6’, Garden Debut®

·        Crimson Fire™ (‘PIILC-I’ PPAF) – Dense broad-mounded habit;  3’ by 7 ½ ’ in 5 years; no stray shoots on the original plant; branches layer, one upon the other; burgundy foliage, green-burgundy in heat, neon pink flowers; proving easier to grow in containers and more cold hardy than Purple Pixie®, bred by Plant Introductions, Inc., marketed by Bailey Nursery in First Editions®

·        ‘Daruma’  (D)

·        ‘Daybreak’s Flame’ (D)

·        ‘Eco Perfumed Diva’ (D)

·        ‘Eco Perfumed Rubies’ (D)

·        Ever Red® (‘Chang Nian Hong’) (D)

·        Fire Dance™ (D)

·        Garnet Fire™ (‘SPG-3-017’) (D)

·        ‘Gempei’ (‘Peppermint’) – Green leaves, flowers striped pink and white 24-30” by 40”, according to Ted Stephens, Nurseries Caroliniana, Inc.,  the pink-white striping does not revert to straight pink or white like ‘Bicolor’

·        Little Rose Dawn™ (‘GriffCRL’, PP 16,615) (D)

·        ‘Melting Pot’ (PP 15,625) (D)

·        ‘Merlot Lace’ – rename of Pizzazz™ (D)

·        ‘Ming Dynasty’ (D)

·        ‘Mosaic’ (PP 13,693) (D)

·        ‘Oyahama’ (D)

·        ‘Peack’ (PP 18,441) (D)

·        Petite Delight® (‘Hindwarf’, PP 12,203) (D)

·        ‘Pink Pearl’ (D)

·        ‘Pipa’s Red’ - Same as ‘Zhuzhou Fuchsia’ (D)

·        Piroche Form (D)

·        Pizzazz® - Same as Plum Delight® (D)

·        ‘Plaze’ (PP 18,375) (D)

·        Plum Cutie™(‘PIILC-III’ PPAF) – Red-purple leaves holds foliage color slighter longer than Crimson Fire™; flowers almost red, mounded habit, looser habit than Crimson Fire™; 4 ½’ by 7 to 8’ in 5 years; bred by Plant Introductions, Inc. and marketed in HGTV Home Plant Collection

·        Plum Delight® (‘Hines Purpleleaf’, ‘Hines Burgundy’, Pizzazz™) (D)

·        ‘Plum Gorgeous’ – 2 to 2 ½’ by 6’, plum foliage through the seasons, bright magenta flowers, Plantsman-Agemout, Australlia, info@pma.com.au

·        Purple Diamond® (‘Shang-hi’, PP 18,331) (D)

·        Purple Pixie® (‘Shang-lo’, PP18,441) (D)

·        ‘Purple Majesty’ (D)

·        ‘Raspberry Muffin’ (D)

·        ‘Ruby’ (D)

·        Ruby Parfait™ (PPAF) – Unique marble cake, splashed white, rose to purple foliage; matures to red-purple; each new flush is variegated; hot pink flowers; estimate in 3-4’ range, originally sourced from Kinsato Nursery, Japan; according to Rick Crowder similar to Ever Red® in size, introduced via Garden Debut®

·        Ruby Snow™ (‘sPg-3-002’ PPAF) – Burgundy foliage in the spring fading to green- purple; white flowers; pretty in early spring with the burgundy leaves and white flowers; based on observations at Griffith Nursery, leaf color fades rather quickly, originally sourced from Kinsato Nursery, Japan, similar to ‘Zhuzhou Fuchsia’ in size; introduced via Garden Debut®

·        ‘Sato’s Dwarf Red’ (PP 17,669) (D)

·        ‘Sizzlin Pink’ (D)

·        Small Leaf Form (D)

·        Sparkling Sangria™ (‘PIILC-II’ PPAF) – Bronze-red young leaves, eventually purplish green; near red flowers; 8 ½’ by 8 to 9’ in 5 years; seedling of Ever Red® that is easier to propagate and grow

·        ‘Suzanne’ (D)

·        ‘Tang Dynasty’ (D)

·        Variegated Form (D)

·        ‘Zhuzhou Fuchsia’ (Same as’ Pipa’s Red’) (D)