When to Prune Loropetalum

September 5, 2008 | By | Comments (200)

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!


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.



  1. Steve Bender


    Go ahead and cut it now. No point in waiting.

    June 25, 2015 at 1:00 pm
  2. Bernadette

    I am trying to prune some overgrown lorpedalum. I really need to lop off the front half of the shrub and reshape later. Is it too late to do that now? June 20 in northwest Louisiana?

    June 20, 2015 at 12:33 pm
  3. Steve Bender


    I’m betting there is a problem with the soil. Does the soil stay wet there? That could cause root rot.

    June 7, 2015 at 9:44 am
  4. Amanda

    We have had ours for over 6 years with no issues. Now they are dying one by one? As soon as one dyes and we remove it, another one starts to dye. The leaves will turn from purple to green then yellow then brown and then its over with. We remove it, within a couple months another one starts to go? I am scared to remove the dead because I have already lost 4! What do we do???

    June 2, 2015 at 7:50 pm
  5. Mia

    Hi Grumpy,

    I have 16 zhuzhou loropetalum (alleged) growing along the back of my house. The shadow of the house shades them for several hours each day but they get lots of sun. For the first three years they seemed happy and were very purple and full; THEN they got pruned by a madman! I came home to a very tight box hedge that was almost bare at the bottom.

    It has been two years and the plants are neither thriving nor dying. What foliage remains is a dull greenish color and the bottoms are bare branches. Many branches seem dead but are green inside. Since then they have not been pruned because I wanted them to grow back but they are maintaining the boxy shape and they have never flowered like they did in the beginning, maybe five blooms on a 30′ hedge.

    The expense of pulling them out makes me shudder just thinking of it. Any ideas on what could be done to rejuvenate them?

    April 14, 2015 at 8:06 am
  6. Steve Bender

    Loropetalum is usually a problem-free plant, so I suspect something has changed in the growing conditions. Has your soil been staying wet or is it heavy clay and poorly drained? This could lead to root rot disease that causes plants to gradually die.

    April 4, 2015 at 5:23 am
  7. Steve Bender


    Yes. The foliage can be green, bronze, or deep purple. The flowers can be white, pink, or red.

    March 29, 2015 at 10:00 am
  8. Tara Wright

    I have (had) a dozen or so Razzleberry Loropetalum bushes, and all were very healthy, 12′ bushes. Suddenly last year they started dying off. The youngest ones died first (about 4 yrs old), and now my older (10 year old) bushes are dying. We’ve already lost half of them, and now seeing the older bushes dying as well is heartbreaking. They line my home, and will leave a huge hole in the landscaping when/if they go too. I’m at a loss as to what I should do to stop it. They don’t appear diseased, or even distressed, before the dead leaves start showing up. But once they start to decline, they are completely dead within just a few months.

    Do you have any suggestions to help save my older bushes? Should I prune them back? Fertilize? Please help.

    March 27, 2015 at 3:54 pm
  9. Jim. Ingles

    Does Loropetalum come in different colors?

    March 24, 2015 at 12:56 pm
  10. Steve Bender


    The abnormally cold weather was most likely responsible for the brown foliage. It may fall off, but the plants should leaf out again in spring. Don’t fertilize now. Wait until they leaf out in spring.

    November 28, 2014 at 9:38 am
  11. Rick Holmquist

    Mr Grumpy.
    We had our house completely re landscaped last August.
    The landscaper planted 15 loropetalums which up to December months seemed to be doing fine. .
    FYI – We live in the panhandle of FL and had bad freezing weather in Jan.
    But this spring several started to looked to be questionable leaves turning brown and dropping but now they now all seem to be dying.
    We’ve fertilized with Miracle Grow but it didn’t seem to help.
    Any suggestions ?

    November 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm
  12. Steve Bender


    The best time to prune a loropetalum is in spring right after it’s finished blooming.

    September 4, 2014 at 10:16 am
  13. Lolita

    Live in South Carolina, when should I prune my loropetalum

    September 2, 2014 at 6:03 pm
  14. Steve Bender


    I think you have an older kind called ‘Burgundy.’ It blooms mainly in early spring. But sometimes if there is an abrupt weather change — hot, dry weather replaced with cool, rainy weather — the plant will get fooled into blooming at the wrong time.

    August 8, 2014 at 10:28 am
  15. Alice DePerna

    So glad I saw your advise about pruning these beauties. Will wait until they bloom in spring 2015. Alice in Dunnellon Fl

    August 4, 2014 at 10:59 am
  16. Beverly Burton

    Thanks for a quick response. Not sure of type but it has very dark purple leaves with fuchsia pink fringe flower in spring. As summer approaches, the leaves take on a green color while retaining some purple highlights. It is blooming again, not sure why. I live near Fl/Ga/Al state line. Always hot here. Maybe this is why it blooms more than once ? Thanks

    July 31, 2014 at 5:13 pm
  17. Steve Bender


    There are lots of loropetalums out there. Some grow 4 feet tall. Others grow 15 feet tall. So you have to check the label for the mature height when you buy. Yes, you can prune a loropetalum to a single trunk and grow it as a small tree.

    July 31, 2014 at 2:59 pm
  18. Beverly Burton

    Dear Grumpy Gardener….if loropetalum is not pruned, how tall-big can it get? Will it shape-grow in a tree like form? Thanks

    July 31, 2014 at 2:44 pm
  19. Steve Bender

    You can prune it now if you want, but you’ll cut off flower buds for next spring.

    July 31, 2014 at 12:50 pm
  20. Lynn Baker

    Hello, I have a ruby Loropetalum that is too big. I want to trim it down. Is it ok to trim it now? Today’s date is 21 July 2014 and I live in Clayton NC. Thank you.

    July 21, 2014 at 7:21 am
  21. Steve Bender


    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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. Steve Bender

    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
  26. 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
  27. Steve Bender


    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
  28. 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
  29. Steve Bender

    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
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. Steve Bender


    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
  33. Steve Bender

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

    January 22, 2013 at 12:57 pm
  34. 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
  35. 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    January 21, 2013 at 10:33 am
  36. 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
  37. Steve Bender

    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
  38. 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
  39. 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
  40. 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
  41. 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.

    October 1, 2012 at 9:58 pm
  42. Steve Bender

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

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

    September 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm
  43. 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
  44. DawnMarie

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

    September 15, 2012 at 9:20 am
  45. Steve Bender

    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
  46. 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
  47. Steve Bender

    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
  48. 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
  49. Grumpy


    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
  50. 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.

    August 7, 2012 at 1:05 am

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s