Coppertone Loquat

This week, we’re back to plants in the Friday Profile! Specifically, the coppertone loquat (Eriobotrya japonica).

For all the time I’ve been hosting GardenLine and writing books, this has been one of my top recommendations for landscape shrubs, and for many reasons. Mainly, I like it for the unique copper color of its new leaves and its ability to be sized for any hedge row you prefer.

It can be pruned a couple of times a year and maintained at 4-5 feet high. It can be pruned once a year and kept at the 6- to 8-foot range. And it can be pruned from the bottom up, clearing out lower growth to look like a single-trunk tree. But, it will only be a small “tree,” likely maxing out at 15 feet. That can also take 5-7 years to accomplish, so you’ve got to commit for a long time and constantly prune that lower growth.

Personally, I’m a fan of the 4- to 5-foot hedge row.

It’s a beautiful evergreen shrub which I often liken to a giant Indian hawthorn. In fact, it will bloom just briefly in the spring with pink or white flowers that look exactly like those of Indian Hawthorns. The copper or bronze leaves that come with new growth also make it a better alternative to red tip photinias, because the coppertone loquat doesn’t suffer from the fungal diseases that ravage plants like red tips and ligustrums.

As with almost all evergreen shrubs in Gulf Coast gardens, it can suffer from insect infestations like scale and attacks from various worms and caterpillars. But those critters are easily treated, especially if you scan the plants monthly and knock out any problems early. Fire blight is the only issue I’ve ever seen coppertone loquats suffer from, and that is usually only brought on by over-fertilizing.

Unlike its cousin, the loquat (Japanese plum), the coppertone does not produce any fruit. So, try this multi-purpose, heartier-than-most shrub alternative when you start or re-do a landscape or hedge row beds.

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