Prunus laurocerasus 'Otto Luyken'
Common Name: cherry laurel 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 6 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Best grown in moist, organically rich, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates shade. Good soil drainage is essential. Plants generally prefer sun in the cooler areas of the growing range (USDA Zone 6) and shadier conditions in the hotter areas of the growing range (USDA Zone 8). Prune as needed after flowering. Unpruned species plants can grow quite large. May not be consistently winter hardy throughout the St. Louis area.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Prunus laurocerasus commonly called cherry laurel or English laurel is a broad, dense, spreading, evergreen shrub that in cultivation typically matures over time to 10-18’ tall with a spread to 20-25’. It is native to southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia where plants in the wild may become quite tree-like, eventually reaching 30’ in height. Lustrous, oblong, dark green leaves (to 6” long). Foliage is evergreen with no fall color. Tiny, cup-shaped, creamy white flowers in upright clusters (racemes to 5” long) bloom from the leaf axils in April-May. Flowers have a powerful aroma. Flowers give way to somewhat inconspicuous black drupes that ripen in mid-summer. This fruit is basically inedible for humans (bitter aftertaste) but is loved by local bird populations.

Genus name from Latin means plum or cherry tree.

Specific epithet means laurel cherry in reference to its laurel-like evergreen leaves and cherry-like fruit.

'Otto Luyken' is a compact cultivar that grows only 3-4 feet tall and spreads to 6-8 feet. Over time it can grow 6-10 feet tall. It is free-flowering. It was introduced by Hesse Nurseries in Germany around 1968.


Better pest resistance than most other species in the genus Prunus. Susceptible to shot-hole disease, powdery mildew and root rot.


Tall hedge or screen. Specimen. Mass or group in large areas. Open woodland or shade. Compact cultivars are much smaller in size and have become very popular garden plants.