There are relatively few plants which combine bronze foliage with white flowers, and the pairing is always striking. And when it features on a dwarf shrub that’s ideal for small gardens and containers, then we’re bound to take notice.
Most forms of Loropetalum chinense, an almost-evergreen shrub related to witch hazels (Hamamelis), have flowers in vivid red or pink tones.
Recently varieties that also feature bronzed foliage have come on the market but L. chinense Ruby Snow (‘Iwai’) is the first to bring us that rare combination of bronzed foliage and white flowers.
And there’s more. Loropetalum chinense has always been considered a little too tender for most gardens; protection from winter chills was always recommended. But as our climate has changed it’s been grown more widely and this selection is also hardier than most.
RHS Wisley botanist Mathew Rees has a special interest in Loropetalum and he told me about this exciting new variety:
“The combination of white flowers with bronze foliage is a new one, much more sophisticated than the bright pink colours we’re used to seeing. This new variety was selected from Japanese plants near Kawaguchi and is therefore much hardier. Its small stature, around 50cm tall x 80cm wide, also makes it great for smaller gardens and containers.
“I’m quite certain it will become a more common sight, as the semi-evergreen leaves, flowering period in spring plus a hardiness down to -10°C seem almost too good to be true!”
Loropetalum chinense Ruby Snow (‘Iwai’) was discovered by Japanese plant breeder Yuji Suzuki in 2003, as a sport on an unnamed pink flowered variety.
Plant Ruby Snow in a sunny place in free-draining neutral or acid soil. It thrives in containers: use an ericaceous compost and feed with rhododendron food.
You can order Loropetalum chinense Ruby Snow (‘Iwai’) from the RHS Plant Shop and from these RHS Plant Finder nurseries.
Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS