Ever since I’ve been hosting the GardenLine radio show, and several books later, the Coppertone Loquat, Eriobotrya japonica, has always been a top recommendation as a landscape shrub. The main reasons I like this shrub are the unique color of the new leaves, hence the “Copper” name, and the ability to be any size 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 likely kept at the 6-8 foot range. It can also be pruned from the bottom moving upwards, clearing out lower growth to make a single trunk, in order to make a tree form. But, it will only be a small tree specimen that will likely max out at 15 feet in height. It can take 5-7 years to make that small tree form, so you must know you’re going to be at that property for a long time, and you have to keep constantly pruning that lower growth. For me, I’m a fan of the 4–5-foot hedge row!
It’s a beautiful evergreen shrub, which I’ve often referred to as a giant Indian Hawthorn. In fact, it will bloom ever so briefly in the spring with pink or white flowers that look exactly like the blooms of said Indian Hawthorns. Those copper/bronze-colored leaves that come with new growth also make this plant a much better alternative to Red Tip Photinias, because it does not suffer from the fungal diseases that ravage plants like Red Tips and Ligustrums.
Like almost any other evergreen shrub we work with in our Gulf Coast gardens, it can suffer from insect infestations like Scale and various worms or caterpillars. But both of those critters are easily treated, especially if you keep an eye on the shrubs once a month, then you can knock any insect problem out because of the early detection. The only ‘disease’ I’ve ever seen Coppertone Loquats suffer from is Fire Blight. But that usually is only brought on by over-fertilizing.
Unlike its fruit producing cousin, the Loquat (Japanese Plum), the Coppertone does not produce any kind of fruit. So, enjoy this multi-purpose, heartier-than-most shrub alternative when it’s time to start or even re-do landscape or hedge row beds.