If I could paraphrase some lyrics from the musical Chicago it would be “Come on, why don’t we paint the garden, with all those Jazz.” That is what I feel every time I see Jazz Hands Variegated loropetalum. This award-winning shrub simply puts a song in your spirit and will add that artist’s touch to the garden.

The first time I saw Jazz Hands Variegated without knowing what it was, I thought that it was a beautiful new snowbush. Snowbush, known botanically as Breynia disticha, is native to the Western Pacific Islands and tropical hardy to zones 10-11. If you are a tropical plant nut you know the plant, you’ve probably grown it and labored to protect it during the winter months.

Imagine when I discovered, instead, that this was a loropetalum or Chinese fringe-flower cold hardy to zone 7. The same Loropetalum chinense we have all been planting for years, but with colorfully variegated new growth that is white and pink with mature growth purple, and yes, sporting hot pink flowers. It will get 4 to 6 feet tall with a 4-foot spread.

That size may just speak volumes to you if you have been growing loropetalums for any length of time. You see right now in late October I have one blooming that is 20 feet tall. Now I will say it is stretching for sunlight a little. Everywhere I go however, I find gardeners who planted varieties of the first loropetalums as little shrubs by the front door and they reached redbud stature.

The Jazz Hands series of loropetalums from Proven Winners features six selections that let you choose the color and size to perfectly fit the location. Jazz Hands Mini for instance is great for planting by the front door, placing in a small container or growing in the front of the border. It only reaches 12 inches tall with a 36-inch spread. It is evergreen or should we say ever purple with purple flowers.

Slightly taller is Jazz Hands Dwarf that reaches 36 inches tall with an equal spread. This variety is among the industry leaders for those loropetalums with a smaller habit. But if you want to go big and bold then Jazz Hands Bold is nothing short of stunning.

This loropetalum sports dark purple evergreen foliage that is larger slightly round and flowers that are the largest in the green industry. It is indeed bold, reaching 6 feet tall and as wide. While this is large it is still a most manageable size to incorporate in the landscape.

The Jazz Hands series also has two white flowered varieties. Jazz Hands Night Moves reaches 4 feet tall and wide and might be considered architectural in that it sports new growth that is a variegated white dark green and purple with pure white blooms. If you haven’t found a white you like, then Jazz Hands Mini is for you; it has dark green leaves and pristine white blooms while reaching 3-feet tall and as wide.

All of these are cold-hardy from zones 7-10 (NOTE: Northern New York is in zone 4), meaning they can take 0 to 5 degrees. Those of you plagued by deer will be delighted to know these are not on the menu. No matter what loropetalum you choose, they perform best in full sun to part shade.

In the Deep South a little afternoon shade is even better for creating a lush look and maintaining those incredible colors of Jazz Hands Variegated.

Plant them in well-drained, organic-rich beds that are slightly acidic. I like to emphasize the part about planting in beds. When planting loropetalums, or any other shrub, put them in a well-prepared bed instead of sticking them in a patch of turf. Like we suggest with azaleas, plant them high, 1 to 2-inches above the soil surface and by all means finish the job with an application of mulch.

Fall is an ideal time to plant loropetalums as their roots will get acclimated in the soil even as temperatures start to cool. Consider partnerships in the landscape with dogwoods and informal drifts of daffodils. Obviously, they would be great in informal clusters with white, lavender or pink Bloom-a-Thon azaleas. You are the artist: Come on and paint the garden with all those Jazz.

Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.

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