Chinese Fringe Plant Feeding: Tips On Fertilizing Chinese Fringe Flowers

Chinese Fringe Plant Feeding: Tips On Fertilizing Chinese Fringe Flowers

By: Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

A member of the witch hazel family, Chinese fringe plant (Loropetalum chinese) can be a beautiful large specimen plant if grown in the right conditions. With proper fertilization, Chinese fringe plant grows up to 8 foot (2 m.) tall with lush, full green foliage and is full of unique witch hazel-like flowers. If your Chinese fringe plant does not look lush and healthy, continue reading to learn how to fertilize Chinese fringe plants.

Fertilizer for Chinese Fringe Trees

Nutrients can be leached from soil by rain and watering. While there are many nutrients shrubs and trees like, Chinese fringe plants need many for proper growth. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the most important. These are the NPK ratios often listed on fertilizer packages. A fertilizer with equal amounts of NPK would be 10-10-10, for example.

Lack of nitrogen in Chinese fringe plants can cause slow growth, small or malformed leaves, yellowing leaves, leaf drop, or premature autumn foliage color. Lack of phosphorus can cause poor root formation and lack of flowers or fruit. Lack of potassium causes the plants to not photosynthesize properly and not utilize water optimally.

Chinese fringe plants may have yellowing, small, or malformed leaves and a lack of flowers and leaves if they are in soils that are too alkaline. Branches may grow short and stubby from high pH. Chinese fringe plants need slightly acidic soil.

When fertilizing Chinese fringe flowers it is recommended to use a slow release fertilizer for azaleas and rhododendrons. Sprinkle this around the root ball in spring.

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Read more about Loropetalum

Chinese fringe flower is useful throughout the landscape. Large varieties block views of neighboring landscapes or mask a wall or compost pile. Plant a row of as an ever-changing, always-interesting hedge along a patio or outdoor room. A focal point on its own, thanks to showy, fragrant, spiderlike flowers and evergreen foliage, Chinese fringe flower can anchor a shrub planting or perennial border. Plant it alongside heavenly bamboo, lilyturf, pittosporum, juniper, or camellia for an easy-care shrub border.

Chinese fringe flower grows best in full sun or part shade and moist, organically-rich, well-drained soil. The best planting site receives full sun in the morning and light shade in the afternoon. In Zone 7, plant it where it will receive protection from cold winter winds and protect its root zone with a thick layer of mulch in late fall. Remove the mulch in early spring. North of Zone 7, this shrub is deciduous.

Chinese fringe flower only requires pruning if you want to control the size of the plant. Prune in late fall after the plant finishes flowering. Chinese fringe flower grows best in moist soil, so spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the root zone to help conserve soil moisture. Water plants deeply during extended periods of drought.


More than 150 plants make up the Viburnum genus, and you can find them in many parts of the world -- North and South America, Mediterranean areas and Southeast Asia. When these woody plants grow in colder northern climates, they are deciduous but in areas with mild winters, they are classified as evergreen or semi-evergreen. In the fall, many varieties delight with brilliantly colored leaves. The Chinese Snowball Viburnum is a non-invasive plant that is botanically sterile it does not generate reproductive structures or fruit.

From Green to Purple: How to revive your Loropetalum

Loropetalum, an evergreen shrub of Chinese origin with a lushly weeping character, comes in a vibrant range of foliage colors from a bright lime green to the deepest, darkest of purples. They are easy to grow, tolerate a wide range of soils and landscape conditions, and the ones with purple foliage add a vivid pop of color alongside traditional green foundation plants.

Yet sometimes things don’t go as planned, and your deliciously purple fringe flower may start to turn green. There are a few reasons for this, most, which can be addressed by working the soil or moving the plant to a more appropriate location. Read on to discover what to do if your purple Loropetalum – well – isn’t.

Too much shade
While Loropetalums are amenable to partial shade, the deep shade directly under a tree or on the north side of your home can be a little too dark for the plant to look its best. The purple foliage color is caused by anthocyanin, a pigment that is produced when the plant is in the sun. If you live in a mild coastal climate, give your Loropetalums a half-day of sun, whether in the morning or the afternoon. If you live in a hotter inland climate, morning sun is ideal to give your fringe flower enough time to soak up the sunshine and color up, without causing stress.

Too much intense heat
While it may sound strange that either too much shade or too much heat can cause the same problem, the pigment production in Loropetalum is inhibited by extreme heat, especially in many older varieties, which have not been bred to hold their purple color effectively. If you live in a climate where it gets very hot, plant your Loropetalum on the east side of your home where it will receive just a few hours of direct morning sun. Keep it shaded during the hottest parts of the afternoon, and it should recover from heat stress and color up again.

Soil is too alkaline
Fringe flowers are generally pretty relaxed about soil conditions, and can tolerate a variety of soil types. However, the wrong pH can make it hard for plants to take up the nutrients they need to put on new, healthy growth. Loropetalum varieties all prefer acidic soil with a pH between six and seven. If you do a soil test and find that your soil is alkaline, apply granular sulfur or cottonseed meal, amend the soil with sustainably sourced peat moss, or top dress with a layer of pine needles, whichever is most easily available to you.

Lack of nutrients
Another problem that can cause greening in fringe flowers is a lack of nutrients. Many older varieties of Loropetalum have the deepest purple color in their new growth, and the old foliage gradually becomes more green. If your Loropetalum is experiencing some kind of stress to where it hasn’t been growing actively, consider applying an organic all-purpose fertilizer to stimulate a gentle flush of new growth all over the shrub. The new growth will be a more vivid shade of purple than the older leaves.

Wrong variety
Unfortunately, many older varieties of purple fringe flower weren’t bred to the same exacting standards they are today. Many are purple in spring when the new growth emerges, but gradually turn a dull bronze green as the season goes on.

Try these new varieties
If you are doing everything right for your Loropetalum and it’s still not staying purple, consider trying one of the newer varieties, which has been specifically bred to stay a gorgeously deep purple-black color all season long.

Purple Diamond® Semi-dwarf Loropetalum is a compact shrub to about 4 feet tall, and is so purple that when you transplant it, you may even notice the roots are tinted purple! Because it’s a more moderate grower than older varieties of Loropetalum, it’s easier to fit into your landscape without having to prune.

Purple Pixie® Dwarf Weeping Loropetalum is the only low-growing fringe flower out there, and it’s perfect for cascading down the side of a container or hiding a retaining wall. It reaches about 1 foot tall and 4 feet wide, and also makes a great groundcover in the garden.

Fringe flowers are a relatively trouble-free plant and provide a dramatic weeping form and color in the landscape. By choosing the right varieties, giving them just enough sunshine, and making sure your soil is in balance, you’ll have a long and happy relationship with these stylish, easy-care shrubs.

Growing Chinese Fringe Flower

As with most species of shrubs or small trees, there is nothing to worry about while growing and caring for Chinese Fringe. They are pretty adaptable to almost any environmental conditions and so low-maintenance that even the most inexperienced growers can get along well with them. As long as you manage to fulfill their basic demands, these plants will be a lifetime companion to you and your other babies.

Light-wise, Chinese Fringe shrubs do well in a wide range of lighting intensities, from full sunlight to partial shade. These plants grow best in a location where they can receive plenty of bright and indirect light. They must be protected from harsh sunlight or intense midday rays, so make sure you plant them in a suitable spot from your garden. Throughout the day, they will appreciate some dappled morning sun with partial shade in the afternoon.

If you live in a region where winters do not come with cold winds, you will have no problem with Chinese Fringe shrubs. Otherwise, you should protect your plants from any extreme temperatures, especially during harsh winters. Although they would not bloom the same, these plants can handle well temperatures that drop to 0 °F (-17.8 °C) even for longer periods.

Fringe Tree -- The Best Native Tree Nobody Grows

You'd think a small, native tree with pretty spring flowers and pretty fall foliage that's easier-than-pie to grow would be a staple in our gardens. You'd be wrong. So let me tell you about fringe tree.

Fringe tree (Chionanthus virginicus) has always played twelfth fiddle to dogwood, saucer magnolia, flowering cherry, Bradford pear (yuck), and numerous others choices for spring-flowering trees. That's just wacky. Indigenous to the eastern U.S., it grows from Canada all the way down to the Gulf Coast. It's tougher than dogwood, more dependable than saucer magnolia, longer-lived than cherry, and smells better than stinky Bradford. And it's beautiful.

Fringe tree gets its name from its clouds of fleecy white, softly fragrant flowers that hang from the branches in late spring and early summer. Other common names here in the South are grancy graybeard and old man's beard. Trees can be either male or female. Males sport larger, showier blooms, but females form attractive, blackish-blue fruits that birds like. Nurseries don't sell trees by sex, so you have to take your chances. But either sex is well worth planting.

Just the Facts So now that Grumpy has convinced you that unless you plant a fringe tree this spring, you will be cast out of the Hoe & Trowel Society, let me provide you with the basics about this charming, native tree.

Size: 12 to 20 feet tall and wide Shape: Rounded and usually multi-trunked Light: Full to partial sun Soil: Moist, fertile, well-drained Water needs: Moderate, tolerates some drought Fall foliage: Bright yellow Pests: NONE Hardiness zones: USDA Zones 3-9 Prune: Seldom needed prune after flowering Bonus fact: Tolerates air pollution good for city gardens Bonus bonus fact: One of the last trees to leaf out in spring

Where to Buy Independent garden centers are your best bet to find fringe trees for sale. You can also buy them from mail-order nurseries, but of course the trees will be small. Here's a list of Grumpy-Certified Mail-Order Suppliers.

Joshua Christian · Gardenality Bloom · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Before I can answer you question and attempt to help you save these trees, there's a few things I need to know. What species are the Fringe trees - are they the native Chionanthus "virginica", or the Chinese species Chionanthus retusus? Is there a cultivar/variety name on the plant tag? Where did you purchase these trees from? Is there a tag on the plant that shows what grower grew the trees? What size are the trees? Were these trees container-grown or field grown (ball-and-burlap)? Were the trees fully leafed out when you planted them? How much have you watered them since planting time? How well does the soil drain? Did you plant them with the top of the root ball below ground level? Did you apply any fertilizer? Sounds like a lot of questions, right? But I need answers to these questions before I can give you my opinions and advice. If you could upload a picture of the trees to this question, this would help too. Let me know.

Watch the video: Qu0026A When and how do I prune my Loropetalum?