The cherry laurel is large bush that can grow up to 40 feet high and 25 feet wide in extreme situations, but is most often smaller. It is frequently used as a dense hedge, with its thick, glossy evergreen leaves, but it also looks beautiful when it grows naturally. Like most shrubs, sometimes a cherry laurel can also be pruned into a small tree if it has a strong lead branch. Laurel trees grow fast and require little maintenance. With a little knowledge you can soon have a beautiful, thick shrub.
Choose a location with well-drained soil, in sun or shade, to plant your cherry laurel. Work organic mulch into the soil and plant the seeds or cuttings in the spring. Avoid soggy or wet areas at all costs or the plant will quickly develop root rot and possible die.
Water the new plant, keeping it moist, but taking care not to overwater. If the seed or cutting is sitting in a puddle of water, that means you have over-watered or your soil is not porous enough. After the plant takes root only water when there is a long-term drought as the plant is quite drought resistant.
Place a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the cherry laurel once it establishes itself in the soil to protect the roots and retain moisture. Fertilise lightly in the fall by sprinkling a handful of general purpose fertiliser around the base of the plant as far as the branches extend.
Prune the cherry laurel in late winter or early spring according to how you wish to use it. If you want a dense shrub, prune the branches in this shape. If you would like to prune it into a tree form, find the lead branch and prune around it to encourage growth in a tree shape.
Clip off any dead or diseased branches you see. Shrubs that are wildly neglected can be sheared all the way to the ground and will rejuvenate next growing season.
The large leaves make the cherry laurel susceptible to frost; it really can only thrive outdoors in the warm south.
Tips and warnings
- The large leaves make the cherry laurel susceptible to frost; it really can only thrive outdoors in the warm south.