When to Prune Loropetalum

September 5, 2008 | By | Comments (180)

Shrub
Q: Hi Grumpy Gardener,

I feel like I could describe myself this way also!!

How far back can a lorepetelum be cut/trimmed back? (I may have spelled the name of the plant incorectly-don’t hold it against me.) I bought such small plants years ago, and now they just grow so large if I don’t keep them trimmed!

Please advise about this plant!

Thanks,

Gardener in Georgia

A: Dear Aspiring To Be Grumpy,

Loropetalum is a fast-growing shrub that takes very well to pruning. It can even be sheared into a formal hedge or trained flat against a wall. You can cut it back as far as needed. However, now is not the time, because it sets flower buds in summer. If you trim it now, you won’t get any blooms in late winter and early spring. Wait to trim it until after it finishes blooming in spring.

Grumpy

COMMENTS

  1. Connie Martin

    Dear Magnificance…
    So, I’ve read all the foregoing, wishing to plant a ZhuZhou hedge – looking for proper spacing. Been digging a healthy trench – amending – for days to give the babies best chance to be most beautiful. Optimum spacing for best life please. I live in Portland, OR where we want all our chicken and plants to live a happy life.
    Connie

    August 7, 2012 at 1:05 am
  2. Grumpy

    Connie,

    Most loropetalums grow large and fast, so don’t squeeze them together. I would space them no closer than 4 feet apart.

    August 9, 2012 at 8:59 am
  3. Henry Jones

    today’s date is sept.3. and i cut back my loropetalum about 20″ from the ground. will it take about 2 months grow back some leaves. before the 1st. frost.

    September 3, 2012 at 7:31 pm
  4. Steve Bender

    Henry,
    Pruning back an evergreen like loropetalum so severely at this time of year is risky, because the spurt of new growth that will follow may not harden off in time for winter and be damaged by cold. Rest assured, however, it will leaf out before the first frost.

    September 6, 2012 at 11:42 am
  5. Audrey

    Q: My loropetalums are massive, I want to cut them back, but they are flowering. When can I cut them back?
    Thanks Gardener from South Carolina

    September 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm
  6. Steve Bender

    Audrey,
    They usually flower in spring, but I guess the weather tricked them. Wait until October to cut them back.

    September 10, 2012 at 2:52 pm
  7. DawnMarie

    what is the latest date to trim the loropetalums without interfering with there sping flowering?

    September 15, 2012 at 9:20 am
  8. Bonnie

    Oh I wish I had read all of this before I trimmed my Laura Pendulums this morning. They were getting too tall and taking over. I didn’t realize how big they would get when I planted them 6 yrs ago. I have been trimming them to keep them under control. But this summer they shot up and I decided to trim them. It is Sept.20th and I cut the new growth off the tops of them. I know I won’t get blooms now across the tops. I also think they need to be cut way back cause they are so bare in the middle. I love them but their too much of a good thing. :) Have I set them up for death since I trimmed to early?

    September 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm
  9. Steve Bender

    Dawn,
    I would guess sometime in mid-June to early July.

    Bonnie,
    The pruning won’t hurt them permanently. The only loss will be some of the spring flowers.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm
  10. artbybonnie

    Thanks Steve,
    Their doing okay…I do have more that need trimmed on the other side of the walk. I’ll wait on their trim.
    Bonnie

    October 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm
  11. heidi

    My loropetalums are blooming but at the same time really need to be trimmed…..is it too late & will effect the blooms in the spring?
    Thank you :)

    October 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm
  12. Steve Bender

    Dawn Marie & Heidi,
    Loropetalums have already set their flower buds for spring. If you trim the shrubs now, you’ll be cutting off spring flowers.

    October 30, 2012 at 5:05 am
  13. beverly burton

    My loropetalum bushes are three years old and blooming because of the very mild winter. They need pruning but they “think” it is Spring now…..what to do and when ? Thank you.

    January 15, 2013 at 10:56 pm
  14. Steve Bender

    Beverly,
    The unusual stretch of mild weather has fooled many plants into blooming early. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about this. Wait until spring to prune. Then cut them back as far as you need to.

    January 16, 2013 at 3:22 pm
  15. Steve johnson

    Hey its jan and i cut back my lotapedelums because there at full bloom and as tall as my house,we had a mild frost last night, if i keep the shrubs coverd with plastic do you think they will be ok. I hope i havent screwed up by cutting them back so early.

    January 19, 2013 at 7:49 am
  16. Erin Frost

    #1 I also just pruned back my loropetalums pretty short. I live in SE Texas where plants/shrubs/trees bloom even in the winter season with our long growing season. I like the wispy-out of contol growth, put they were becoming too tall, leggy, and sparse looking. They form the “backdrop” of my landscaping- the highest plant out of everything to give some height. I have the same question you do Jan about pruning so early. I am scared to death that I just ruined the growing rate of the plant!!!! :( I work in my yard constantly, and I am always trying to experiment and discover secrets to gardening. Maybe I should have researched before cutting them back!! Somebody please ease my mind and tell me they will grow back!!!!

    #2 I also have yellowing leaves on some plants causing the sparse look along with bare limbs. I have read it could be the PH so I need to look into that. I want to keep the leaves pretty and purple and I can’t seem to do that consistently. Drives me crazy because I have always heard they are easy, low maintenance plants which is why I chose them!!
    HELP with advice pretty please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Erin

    January 21, 2013 at 10:33 am
  17. Erin Frost

    Erin Again!

    A couple of other questions Steve:

    I have much landscape around my pool – some of the plants are:
    lorapetalums, windmill palms, knockout rose bushes, guava bushes, foxtail ferns, lillies, bottlebrush, cleara (not sure on spelling??). Not sure when to trim/prune all of these or what should be or not should be pruned/trimmed. My windmills have some yellow colored fronds- will they turn back green once it gets warmer? I have bought burlap to wrap them. Is that something I need to do now? I just need advice on how to care for all of my plants. Thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2013 at 10:52 am
  18. Steve Bender

    Steve,
    Not to worry. Loropetalums will be fine. Don’t need any special care.

    January 22, 2013 at 12:57 pm
  19. Steve Bender

    Erin,

    Don’t worry about pruning your loropetalums. They take pruning very well and will grow back in no time. The yellowing leaves can be caused by alkaline soil (above pH 7), which is common in Texas. To lower the pH, add garden sulfur or iron sulfate to the soil around the base of the plant at the rate specified on the bag and water it in. Since your water is probably alkaline too, you may have to do this every year.

    Re: your other shrubs. The lowest fronds of windmill palm live a year or two, then turn yellow, droop, and die. This is natural, so just prune them off. Don’t worry about the cold — they are completely hardy in your area. You can prune the cleyera and KO rose now too. Wait to prune bottlebrush until after it blooms.

    January 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm
  20. Hope

    I have several loropetalums about 8-9 feet tall which I’m using as a hedge for my “private garden” on top of a slope in my yard. All the leaves are on the upper two thirds of each shrub while the bottom third is completely bare. Based on what I’m reading here, I’d like to prune them back hard to thicken them up. However, I don’t want to lose the privacy that these shrubs provide for too long. How far back can I prune them and still get the desired effect? Four, three or two feet? I want them to start growing back fast so is it okay to prune them now or is it necessary to wait until after they bloom? Also there are some limbs that are growing completely straight up from the ground. Should I cut those back to the ground? I live in central Alabama. Thank you!

    January 28, 2013 at 8:50 am
  21. Are You Ready For Spring? – The Daily South | Your Hub for Southern Culture

    [...] If it blooms in the spring on growth made the previous year (azalea, lilac, forsythia, spirea, loropetalum, ‘Nikko Blue’ hydrangea, Lady banks rose, etc.) and you prune now, you’ll cut off [...]

    January 31, 2013 at 9:01 am
  22. Steve Bender

    Hope,
    If you prune them now, you’ll lose all of then spring blooms, so you might want to wait a bit. Loropetalums grow fast and take pruning very well, so you can cut them back to three feet if you want. To thicken them up, when they send up long, arching shoots, prune these shoots back by half. The limbs coming up up of the ground are suckers. Don’t cut them to the ground. Just cut them to the same height as the rest of the shrubs. They’ll branch and make the shrub thicker.

    February 1, 2013 at 12:56 pm
  23. Jeanine Bowdry

    Dear Steve,

    My loropetalums are awful looking. I’m in MS and they came with my house. The leave never thicken and the blooms are nothing to brag about. I was thinking about digging them up. What do you suggest?

    April 7, 2013 at 3:19 pm
  24. Steve Bender

    Jeanine,

    Are they growing in full sun? That’s when they look their best and most most. You copuld also try pruning them back now to encourage denser growth.

    April 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm
  25. mary

    I had hugh loropetalums that all of a sudden started turning brown and within a week they were dead. Anyone else had this to happen. They were several lyears old.

    April 12, 2013 at 7:39 am
  26. Steve Bender

    Mary,
    Were the shrubs stripped of bark near the base? This sometimes happens when somebody is trimming too close with a weed whacker or lawn mower. The only other thing I can think of is maybe someone use some weedkiller around them.

    April 15, 2013 at 12:16 pm
  27. JK

    I just noticed a few green leaves in my shrubs.. do I need to fertilize the shrubs. This is the first time I have noticed green leave among all the purple ones

    May 2, 2013 at 5:11 pm
  28. Steve Bender

    If it’s just a few green leaves, there is nothing to worry about. If entire branches sprout green leaves, you need to cut those branches out.

    May 8, 2013 at 11:06 am
  29. Judy

    I have 5 year old purple diamond lorepedlums. One died last year, the 2 next to it died this year. Looks like they were sprayed with weed killer but there has been none. The others below are fine. No one can tell me what to do. The leaves left look good so I dont suspect fungus. The neighbors cats lay under them for shade. Could that be it?

    May 12, 2013 at 5:23 pm
  30. Steve Bender

    Judy,

    It isn’t the cats. Does the soil around them stay wet? They don’t like that. If this isn’t it, I suspect some chemical has been used around them. GG

    May 17, 2013 at 9:20 am