When to Prune Loropetalum

September 5, 2008 | By | Comments (181)

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. Steve Bender

    Powell,

    Most loropetalums have a rounded shape, so yours sounds pretty normal. They take pruning very well and this is the way to thicken them up. You can even shear them into a hedge.

    August 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm
  2. Powell collins

    My loropetalums are growing out and not up. They are about 18 to 24 inches tall and. 4 to 5 feet wide. They look like something sat in the middle of them. Is this normal? They are in their second year. I would like them to be thicker and taller.

    August 4, 2012 at 7:59 pm
  3. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Yes. Take about a 6-inch cutting from wood that is somewhat firm, strip off the lowest set of leaves, dip the cut end in rooting powder, and then stick the cutting into a pot of moist potting soil sitting in shade.

    July 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm
  4. Sherry

    Can you root this plant?

    July 13, 2012 at 10:08 am
  5. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Why don’t you you try ‘Emerald Snow’ loropetalum from our Southern Living Collection? It has white flowers and grows only 3-4 feet tall. ‘Mojo’ dwarf pittosporum would be another good choice. Here’s a link: http://southernlivingplants.com/shrubs/

    June 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm
  6. Monica

    I have 4 loropetalums and two of them have grown to cover windows. I was thinking of trimming the ones on the ends and replacing middle ones with another slower growing shrub so they won’t cover window as quickly. Do you have a suggestion for a good compliment? I’m in Houston..

    June 26, 2012 at 8:42 am
  7. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Lesley,
    There are many selections of loropetalum out there. Some only grow 4 to 5 feet tall. Others grow 15 feet tall. From your description of the leaves, I think you have an older selection called ‘Burgundy.’ It gets up to 15 feet and grows fairly dense and rounded if planted in full sun. It will open up if planted in part sun.

    June 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm
  8. Lesley

    I would like to transplant my loropetalum plants into a hedge. However, my husband(aka trimmer person) does not want to trim them. If he doesn’t trim them what will they look like? Will they be dense? I don’t mind the spikeness of the plant. How tall will they get? I don’t know the type of loropetalum that I have, however, they have dark green leaves on the base and reddish leaves on the new growth. Thanks for your help.

    June 21, 2012 at 11:18 am
  9. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Keep them watered and pray, pray, pray.

    May 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm
  10. Kelly

    Dear Grumpy,
    We found 8 large Lora shrubs on the side of the road they had obviously been pulled out and tossed so we took them home and transplanted them. We placed them in water until we had the holes and we trimmed the broken roots away they had significant damage to the lower trunks but they are very mature plants. Three days after transplant they began to wilt and drop leaves. Can you give us advise to save?

    May 22, 2012 at 3:49 pm
  11. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Joy,
    To do this, you’ll need one of the large growing types, not the compact forms. Prune it to several trunks, removing the lower side branches up to about 4 feet. You’ll end up with an arching shrub.

    May 21, 2012 at 9:02 am
  12. JoyMiller

    How do you prune lorapetlum to look willowy

    May 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm
  13. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Dona,
    The foliage will change color according to how much sun they get. In full sun, they’ll be purple. In shade, they may turn a greenish-burgundy. You do need to keep them watered if they’re still in pots, but check the soil first so you don’t overdo it. The peachy color may be older leaves that are about to drop off and be replaced by new growth.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm
  14. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Sandy,
    Not sure I agree with the nursery. Loropetalum is a drought-tolerant plant, but that is only after it gets established. Until its root system expands, the soil should be moist and well-drained. To make your plant bushier, cut it back moderately after the blooms fade and give it a good drink of Miracle-Gro.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:19 pm
  15. Dona

    Last week we planted 9 Purple Diamonds, and 2 are still pots. Some of leaves, including one in a pot, are turning colors. The area around their veins is still dark green, but outer leaves are a peachy color. I wonder if they are overwatered? They are in shade in the morning til about noon. Are they overwatered (husband waters every evening) Thanks!

    May 2, 2012 at 8:31 am
  16. Sandy

    I love your website. We have a Loropetulum tree that was planted by a landscaper last Nov. It just doesn’t look good now. It is thin between branches. We watered it as per instructions but it seems dry. It is getting blooms on it now. How much water should a young tree have and how should it be watered? The nursery told us not to soak it.

    April 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm
  17. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Lisa,
    Loropetalum is tough. It should come back. Just keep watering, but don’t fertilize until you see new leaves. The plant may die back a little. If it does, just prune off the dead.

    April 20, 2012 at 11:45 am
  18. Lisa

    My loropetalums are around 3 years old. We recently transplanted them and just about all the leaves have turned brown and fallen off. I’m watering them and giving them a transplanting solution. Any chance they’ll recover?

    April 9, 2012 at 9:48 am
  19. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Rick,
    Loropetalum is tough and takes pruning very well. Yes, you can cut them back to bare stubs and they will leaf out and send out new branches. And yes, you can remove the lower branches and train them to grow like crepe myrtles.

    April 9, 2012 at 8:09 am
  20. Rick

    I was one of the early users of lorapetalum in my area (Winston-Salem, NC). I planted three of them as part of our foundation plantings 17 years ago when we built our home. They have flowered profusely, given great changes of foliage color over the course of each season, and have generally been fantastic. But after keeping them pruned regularly for years, I’ve done little the last three years, and they’ve taken over the front of the house! Their branches reach 12-13 feet tall, full of spectacularly pink flowers. I want to get them back to 5 or 6 feet. But the problem is, their trunks are now like trees, and cutting them down to 5 or 6 feet would cut them down to wood only — the interior of the plants have no growth that deep. Would the plants survive and send out new branches, or must I start over with new plants? As an alternative, could they be “decoratively” pruned, with thick trunks with all the growth on top, the way some people prune crape myrtles?

    April 8, 2012 at 10:56 pm
  21. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    They were pruned at the wrong time. The time to prune them is in late spring after they flower. Pruning them severely in fall removes most of the flower buds.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:38 pm
  22. Lisa

    This spring my loropetalums bloomed but didn’t open. They were cut down to 3ft last fall and, while the leaves are green and the blooms a light pink, they didn’t have the vibrancy they did last year. Why?

    March 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm
  23. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Loropetalum takes pruning very well. If it is a healthy plant, prune it as you need to. It will grow back quickly.

    March 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm
  24. Aimee

    I lost one of my loropetalums due to the extreme heat and drought in Houston last year, so I replaced it in the fall. Yesterday I found another one had died, so it was replaced. I’m thinking of pruning/cutting my others back to even out my flowerbed and make it look more uniform. Looks as though I have a large empty space in the middle of the bed. I’m afraid if I cut too much it will die. Is this a smart idea? If so, how much should I cut?

    March 19, 2012 at 10:39 am
  25. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Ashlee,
    Loropetalums grow fast, fill in quickly, and take pruning well. I would plant them at least 3 feet apart.

    March 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm
  26. Ashlee

    I am wanting to plant loropetalums along my yard next to the road to give us some privacy. I figured this would be cheaper than installing a privacy fence. I want them to fill in completely, giving the most privacy as possible. So, about how far apart should I plant them to achieve this?

    March 14, 2012 at 10:36 am
  27. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Ted,
    Don’t worry. Unless you have weeping loropetalums like ‘Purple Pixie,’ any can be pruned into a multi-trunked small tree. If you have a mixture of selections, however, they may not all grow at the same speed or to the same height. This can be fixed by more pruning.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm
  28. Ted

    I have numerous loropetalum in my yard but don’t know the variey(ies). Most I’ve left free-flowing. One I have trimmed into tree form about 12ft high. I have two that were planted about 4ft apart and are now trimmed together into a tight 7’hi x 10’dia oval. Each has about 6 or so 1″ to 2″ dia. trunks. After they bloom I want to prune them to tree shape with 3 or 4 trunks each, but am afraid they might not be the right variety to do so. How can I tell?

    March 7, 2012 at 9:04 am
  29. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Ehart,
    I believe your southern location is responsible for the erratic blooming. You can make your shrubs bushier by cutting back severely 1/3 of the trunks every year for 3 years. Now is a good time to prune.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm
  30. Ehart

    I believe I have the purple diamond variety (purple leaves, magenta pink flowers) appx 4ft. In north central FL when/what months should I prune? They seem to bloom sparatically, especially when the weather keeps going from warm to cold and back again. I prune mainly to keep them managable and shapely. Also the tops of the bushes are healthy and full but underneath and middle are sparse and lack leaves. Is there a reason for this? – like lack of sun? Will trimming back heavily help them fill back out again?
    Thanks

    February 26, 2012 at 9:57 pm
  31. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Martha,
    Loropetalums take pruning very well and even make good formal hedges. Wait until after they finish blooming this spring and them cut them back as far as you want. They’ll grow back quickly and be more bushy. The more you trim them, the denser they’ll become.

    January 25, 2012 at 11:35 am
  32. Martha

    I live in Savannah, GA and have a row of loropetalum that are about 10 yrs old. They have gotten a little larger than I prefer and the interior of the plants is bare. Have I done something wrong to cause this? Can I cut them low to the ground after they bloom and just let them start over?

    January 24, 2012 at 11:34 am
  33. Martha

    I have a row a plants that are about 10 yrs old. They continue to grow and bloom, but the inside of these plants is bare. Have I done something wrong? I would like to cut them back severely and start over with them. They’ve gotten a little larger than I prefer anyway. I live in coastal Georgia.

    January 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm
  34. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Josh,
    I don’t think there is anything to worry about. Loropetalums often lose some leaves in winter.

    November 25, 2011 at 12:05 pm
  35. Josh in north Alabama

    I planted a row of purple diamonds in front of my new home back in May. They’ve grown and been doing great up till now. Now several leaves have turned bright red and then fallen off and some of the shrubs are getting pretty bare especially in the middle of the bush. Is this normal for this time of year or something else?

    November 24, 2011 at 7:25 pm
  36. Jo Brown

    This was a great and helpful page…loved his humor/he answered all my questions thru others

    November 5, 2011 at 12:31 pm
  37. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Aubrey,
    The cause is pruning at the wrong time. If you prune in summer, you cut off all of the flower buds for next year even though you get a lot of new growth. In the future, prune right after the shrub stops blooming.

    October 31, 2011 at 1:57 pm
  38. Aubrey Simpson

    Why will my loropetalum not bloom. The few blooms it has are on the bottom?

    October 29, 2011 at 2:11 pm
  39. Ruthie G

    Loropetalum are most attractive as a small tree. Cut out lower branches and let the top grow and the blooms/trimming is not a conccern.

    October 26, 2011 at 10:19 am
  40. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Newbie,
    You can move it in October or November.
    Julie,
    You can cut it down to a foot tall right now if you want. Don’t cut any shorter than that or you may remove the graft that’s responsible for the leaf and flower color. Loropetalum grows fast, so you won’t have to wait long to restore its wispiness.

    October 20, 2011 at 11:24 am
  41. Julie

    We have a (now) gigantic lorapetalum. I used to love how wispy it was, but we had someone taking care of our yard who pruned it into a round ball shape. We would really like to cut it down (short) and let it grow back into its full wispy glory. 1) I’m in GA and while it’s nice weather there will be frost soon – do I have to wait?, 2) Can I get the size back down and the informal shape back? Thank you!

    October 17, 2011 at 5:11 pm
  42. Newbie in GA

    Hi Grumpy,
    Totally newbie gardener here. Have a loropetalum that hasn’t been tended to in at least 3 years – we just bought the house – and we would like to move him. Is this the right time? You say fall but I need more than that :) Thank you!

    October 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm
  43. DT

    How fast (in terms of inches/month or year) can I expect Purple Diamond to grow? Mine don’t seem to be growing. I am in central NC, zone 7.

    September 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm
  44. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Loropetalums are tough, so if any shrub would survive that treatment, they would. Of course, you won’t get any flowers next spring.

    September 15, 2011 at 2:30 pm
  45. kevin

    i have to transplant two 7 ft tall lorapetalums at the very end of summer here is zone 7b.
    i’m thinking to cut them down to just wood and take as much root as i can. i’ve soaked them well two days before transplant. Any suggestions?
    p.s. i’m in red clay land.

    September 12, 2011 at 10:25 pm
  46. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Hi, Diane. Loropetalum often just sits there for the first year while it’s growing roots. After that, it’s off to the races — several feet a year. Having said that, ‘Purple Diamond’ does not get big. It should grow 4-5 feet tall and wide.

    September 12, 2011 at 5:03 pm
  47. Diane

    Hi. I planted some purple diamonds. They’re supposed to be “fast” growers, but it seems mine are not really growing much. What does “fast” mean in terms of growth in inches/feet for these shrubs? What’s a realistic expectation? I’m in NC, zone 7, and they get full sun. Thanks!

    September 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm
  48. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Loropetalums bloom in spring on growth made the previous year. So if you prune them now, you won’t get any blooms next year. Keep pruning yours after they finish blooming in spring.

    August 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm
  49. Bob

    We live in deep s/w Arkansas and planted 5 loropetelum around our patio . I prune in the Spring after blooming , and have been told that in our area there are two blooming periods , much like Crepe Mtrtles ( if you prune before Aug 1st ).They are about 6 feet now and I am wondering whether to wait on blooms or ?

    August 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm
  50. Bob

    We live in S/W Arkansas and have 5 Burgundy’s planted around our patio . I pruned them after the Spring bloom . I have been told there is two blooming times for these plants , and do they ever grow fast . Do they have more than one bloom per yr ?

    August 14, 2011 at 1:01 am

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