There are a lot of groundcover shrubs out there working every day and night to keep our landscapes looking fantastic, and I’m not sure they get the recognition they deserve. We’re talking about plants that play second fiddle to taller plants while selflessly making sure that every inch of the landscape looks like a million bucks. I think this raises the question, would an ice cream sundae really be an ice cream sundae without the whipped cream and cherry on top? Where would pizza be without the sauce? It’d just be cheese bread.. And where would tacos be if it weren’t for-… I’m sorry, as I write this it’s getting dangerously close to lunch.
Let me get back on track here - Today we’re going to highlight one low-growing/groundcover shrub in particular, the Purple Pixie Loropetalum from the Southern Living Plant Collection. This is a particularly versatile plant, and with just a little bit of work it can make some magic in your yard.
Some specifics about Purple Pixies:
- USDA Zones: 7-10
- 1-2’ tall x 4-5’ wide
- 5-6 hrs. of morning sun with afternoon shade
- Medium water requirements (water established Loropetalums weekly in summer)
- Plant in well-draining soil
- Acidifying fertilizer (NPK 10-8-8 or 10-8-6) can be used 2-3 times from Spring to late Summer to promote plant health. Use less if planted in shadier conditions
What’s all the buzz about…
Purple Pixies have naturally weeping foliage, and at their max height of 2’ they tend to look sort of like a muffin-top. This, coupled with the rich purple foliage, allows for some unique opportunities in the landscape.
On the bright side…
They need about 5-6 hrs of sun every day for optimal health and prefer to have that sun in the morning rather than in the afternoon, the intensity of afternoon sun can potentially be too much for them.
With regards to watering…
Purple Pixies are particularly susceptible to root rot when overwatered. Be sure that your soil drains well before planting Loropetalums. If water drains from the hole intended for your plant in 10 minutes or less, it is draining well. If it takes over an hour for the water to drain, you need to improve soil drainage. There are many techniques to combat this but here are a few ideas. You can dig a larger hole (or the entire bed) and lay a few inches of gravel. You can dig a deeper/wider hole and add organic matter such as compost or peat moss. Or you can create a raised bed.
Pixies En Masse…
Pixies work quite well as mass plantings; plant them between 2-3’ apart for a royal purple sea of weeping foliage. This strategy functions just as well, if not better, on slopes. They’ll prevent erosion while also adding evergreen interest. Not to mention the fact that initial spring blooms will coat these shrubs and create quite a display.
For a continuously spectacular arrangement, try planting them in front of multi-season bloomers like Encore Azaleas or Knock Out Roses. The Purple Pixie will provide a unique frame for the Encores or Knock Outs as they continuously re-bloom from Spring to Fall. Lighter blooming varieties will allow for the greatest contrast. (As an added bonus, the Purple Pixie will re-bloom sporadically through fall)
Consider it Contained…
Finally, Purple Pixies truly shine in container plantings. Cascading over the lip of pots/walls is second nature to these Loropetalums. Just remember to “Thrill, Fill, and Spill.” If you’re unfamiliar with this aspect of container theory, here’s a quick rundown.
- Thrill – The focal point of the container planter. This can be any number of plants such as miniature banana trees, salvia, some kind of trellised plant, Lemon Lime Nandina, Sunshine Ligustrum, caladiums, etc. Generally, ‘Thrillers’ are taller, stand straighter, and have interesting texture or blooms.
- Fill – ‘Fillers’ appropriately fill in the gaps in your planter. Plants like lantanas, begonias, and impatiens work quite well at this role. ‘Fillers’ work most effectively if a variety is chosen with a complementary foliage or bloom color.
- Spill – ‘Spill’ is where the Purple Pixie comes in. ‘Spillers’ cascade over the edge of the container, something these Loropetalums excel at.
Here a Pixie is planted with a miniature banana tree
Hopefully this has given you some ideas and tips on how to use Purple Pixie Loropetalum in your landscapes. If you have any further questions, feel free to Contact Us here at PlantsbyMail.com and we will get back with you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading!