Monday, March 26, 2012

Loropetalum Envy

Loropetalum. Lor-o-pe-tal-um. Not as intimidating as it first looks, as far as latin names go.

So, what is it? (besides a cute picture from wikipedia?)

It's a shrub I saw, and could not identify, last time we went to Florida. It was blooming in February, with this beautiful, wispy magenta flowers, had moderately sized foliage, and pretty jagged looking growth habit. I didn't know what it was, but I filed it away, hoping to come across it again some day in a place with a name loudly declared. Whelp, finally found it. And now I'm wondering...

Can it be grown as a bonsai?

So far what I know of them (besides being attractive) is this:

-They like full sun to partial shade (can provide, check!)
- They prefer well draining, acid soil (can provide, check!)
- They cannot handle freezing temperatures, but most do well with a cooler period for flowering. (with effort, can provide, so tentative check!)
- They are tolerant of pruning (awesome, so check)
- They can be grown in large containers (Hmmm, how large? Will they tolerate root pruning?)
- Heat tolerant, but prefer cool roots (good to know, shade or mulch pot in summer?)
-They come in green and purple leafed varieties, as well as white and magenta flowering varieties (I'm not picky, and has no bearing on bonsai culture)

A search for Loropetalum bonsai comes up with very little information about growing these.... but does yield some awesome photos.

-I don't read french (and the only french I speak is probably not suitable for mixed company or hanging out with grandma), so the information available here is lost to me. But there are some good pictures at the end:
-More information in a language I can't read, and can't even offer proper insults in. But again, nice photos!:

And plenty of others, some which are really stunning, but I don't trust the websites so I'm not going to risk infecting your computer and mine by clicking on them. Hmmm. Internet, you make me nervous sometimes.....

The winter requirements are challenging for me here on Long Island, I am just at the northern edge of where they can grow in the ground, but may die back to the roots as a landscape plant. This clearly is not optimal. I don't do a lot of tender species as bonsai, prefering stuff I can mulch and leave out without too much hassle in my winters. But I might be willing to make an exception for this one.

Anyone have experience with this plant? Thoughts, comments or photos you'd like to share? While tracking this down at a local nursery is unlikely for me, next time I take a trip south, I'll be keeping an eye out for some workable stock!