What are the purple-leafed shrubs that have been blooming the past month?

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JERRY W. ASKS: Can you tell me the botanical name of your purple-leafed shrubs that have been in full bloom the past month? I would like to plant one in my garden.

The botanical name of this stunning evergreen shrub is: Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum ‘Purple Majesty’. Its common name is: Chinese fringe flower shrub. Rubrum refers to its deep purple leaves. The bloom is an attractive fuchsia pink.

This particular Chinese fringe flower shrub has been available for many years and has been used extensively in home landscapes as well as in commercial landscapes, and continues to remain a popular choice.

Now many new cultivars are available from low-growing ground covers to container-sized shrubs to those that can reach a height of 6 to 10 feet.

The variety ‘Razzleberry’ has lighter green leaves with an abundance of spider clusters of pink fuchsia blossoms that provide a colorful show in the spring and then bloom sporadically the rest of the year.

The variety ‘Monraz’ is covered with an abundance of white flowers and thrives in partial shade situations.

Another newer introduction is white ‘Emerald Snow’ that grows 3 to 4 feet by 3 to 4 feet and has a rounded form as its size suggests.

‘Purple Pixie’ is a weeping Loropetalum that reaches a diminutive height of 1 to 2 feet but will reach a width of 4 to 5 feet. This shrub would be perfect in a large hanging basket.

The variety, ‘Plum Delight’ is recommended as a colorful choice for a hedge with its upright growth pattern. The leaves are almost dark silver purple but the contrasting spidery pink blooms lend an unusual colorful touch to a hedge. It does well in a filtered sun location but will do equally well in full sun. It is more drought tolerant once established.

Here are some additional facts about Loropetalum’s cultural requirements and growth patterns:

Most have a tiered growth form and arching branches.

Keeping the shrub to its natural form is desirable.

They prefer regular water and soil that drains reasonably well.

When the shrub is well mulched it can tolerate some drought.

One-half day of sun is ideal.

As the shrubs grow older the foliage can be a deeper purple shade. However, purple-leafed varieties can lose their deep color when planted in too much shade.

Even though Loropetalums are easy, they still appreciate an organic all-purpose fertilizer place around their drip line. Do keep the fertilizer away from the main trunk and water in thoroughly.

If you know your soil is more on the alkaline side of pH, it may not be able to take up the necessary nutrients to thrive. Mulch!

Pruning: The main bloom is mid-March to mid-April. Cut back in the spring when the majority of bloom is finished. Late summer and fall pruning is discouraged to avoid the loss of next year’s flower production.

The shrub is very forgiving when it is pruned heavily.

I have seen it pruned back to leafless branches and it has come back without a problem, keeping its lovely weeping tiered shape. However, constant shearing ruins its stunning shape and eliminates the seasonal bloom.

Rich asks: Why have the leaves on my Loropetalum turned green? Is the shrub deer proof? I thought I saw some deep damage.

Check to see if you planted it too close to a down spot. They do not tolerate poor drainage or too much water. On the other side of the spectrum, soil that is too dry will cause a loss of color or the rootstock could be reverting to the greener leaves.

A pigment influenced by UV rays causes the deep coloring in the leaves.

Sad news: The shrub was deer proof until this year — in certain areas. They must be hungry because they are now starting to ravage older specimens that they always left alone. Look for droppings to confirm deer presence.

Diane S. asks: Can you offer a few ideas on choosing seeds that my grandchildren can grow. I want them to experience nurturing the plants and enjoying their success. Their ages vary.

Why not try sunflowers? Do be aware, slugs and snails enjoy the tender new growth. The seeds can always be planted in a good-sized container such as a farm-watering trough (if space is available). Be creative and encourage the children to plant the seeds. There are many types available, from short to tall or you can buy starts and plant. Some favorites are Kong, Pikes Peak and Fantasy hybrids to name a few.

The sunflowers are great for attracting birds to the garden.

Another weedkiller recipe/tip from a reader: Combine 1 gallon vinegar, 1½ cups of Epsom salt and 2 tablespoons of dishwashing soap. Spot spray the weeds as they emerge.

Allow the solution to dry a day before irrigating.

Dana Lozano and Gwen Kilchherr are garden consultants. Send your gardening questions to The Garden Doctors, at pdgardendoctor@gmail.com. The Garden Doctors can answer questions only through their column, which appears twice a month in the newspaper and online at pressdemocrat.com.

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