Caring for Mountain Laurel

The care information provided in this section represents the kind of practical advice is available for all the plants in this web site if you subscribe to the monthly customized newsletter Yardener’s Advisor.

Water newly transplanted mountain laurels generously. Once they are established, they will need supplemental watering only just before the ground freezes each winter and during periods of drought. When rainfall is scarce, especially during summer and early fall, run a sprinkler for to 30 minutes every week or 10 days. Even better, run a drip irrigation system to deliver water slowly so that the ground is wet down to 10 or 12 inches. A layer of mulch over the root system will help keep the soil cool and moist, the way mountain laurels prefer it. For more information see the file on About Watering Equipment

Mountain laurel needs feeding only once a year. Sprinkle a handful or two of fertilizer prepared for acid loving plants under the shrub in the early spring or in the late fall. Spread the fertilizer on the soil out to 1 1/2 feet beyond the tips of the branches, taking care not to allow the fertilizer to touch the laurel foliage or stems. Some serious gardeners spray dilute liquid fertilizer mixed with dilute seaweed extract on the mountain laurel foliage once or twice early in the season at 6 week intervals to boost the shrubs' vigor. It is not required, but it is beneficial.
For more information see file About Fertilizers.

A 2 or 3-inch layer of some attractive organic material spread under mountain laurel shrubs will protect their roots. Wood chips, bark nuggets, chopped leaves, pine needles or similar materials discourage weeds, retard water evaporation from the soil, and keep the roots cool in hot weather.
For more information see file on Using Mulch.

It is not necessary to prune laurel except to remove dead or broken branches or to gently shape the shrub. Allow each shrub to look informal and natural rather than deliberately shaped. Removing spent flowers as soon as possible will encourage a better display next year, but it is not essential that you do this.
For more information see files on Pruning Shrubs and Choosing Pruning Tools.

Winter Protection
Mountain laurel, like other broadleaf evergreens, is susceptible to winter burn. If it is located in an area that provides no natural shelter from wind and glaring winter sun, it is wise to set up a protective windscreen of burlap to shield the shrub. Do not wrap it so that air circulation is blocked. Spray mountain laurel foliage with an anti-transpirant spray while it is still relatively mild weather to minimize moisture loss. Mulch shrub roots with a thick mulch of straw, chopped leaves or similar materials to minimize soil temperature fluctuations that may cause it to heave and damage shrub roots.
For more information see file on Winter Protection For Plants and Plant Protection Supplies