Loropetalum is a genus of three species of shrubs or small trees in the witch-hazel family, Hamamelidaceae, native to China, Japan, and south-eastern Asia.
The name Loropetalum refers to the shape of the flowers and comes from the Greek loron meaning strap and petalon meaning petal. Flowers are produced in clusters during spring and are similar to those of the closely related witch-hazel. Each flower consists of four to six (depending on species) slender strap shaped petals 1–2 cm long. Loropetalum chinense - white-flowering variety up to 3.7 m tall, pink-flowering variety up to 1.5 m tall.
This is a tender shrub but one that takes advantage of our increasingly warm weather, which makes it safe in the southern and western parts of the country. While the young leaves can be seared by heavy frost - they usually regenerate - the shrub will remain sound. New plants are readily raised from cuttings or by layering.
Choosing the right planting position is vital. A sheltered corner where there is exposure to sun - south to south-west facing - is ideal.
Loropetalum need a slightly acidic, humus-rich soil that retains moisture. Watering in droughts is vital.
It would look superb in a large rock garden. The rocks will provide the cool root run that, like clematis, these plants need. Tuck it into a planting pocket measuring at least 2ft-3ft x 18in x 12in or deeper. This will create a natural bonsai effect and the shrub will tend to develop a low, rounded bushy shape with the branches gently cascading over the rocks. A good mulch in summer is vital.
In the colder parts of the country, loropetalum should be treated as tender. Plant it in a large terracotta container that can be brought into the conservatory or cold greenhouse for the winter. In summer, stand it outside as a striking specimen among container grown half-hardy annuals and perennial pot plants.