Best grown in moist, acidic, humusy, well-drained soils in part shade. Mulch to retain moisture and keep root zones cool. Plants tolerate a wide range of light conditions (full sun to full shade), but are best in part shade in the St. Louis climate. Raised plantings should be considered in order to promote better drainage. Plants do not grow well in heavy clay soils. Remove spent flower clusters immediately after bloom.
Mountain laurel is a gnarled broadleaf evergreen shrub or small tree that is native to Eastern North America where it is often found growing in rocky or sandy woods. It is noted for its excellent spring flowers and year round foliage. It typically grows as a dense rounded shrub to 5-15’ tall, opening up and developing gnarly branches with age. Notwithstanding its usual shrub habit, mountain laurel will rarely grow as a small tree (particularly on slopes in the Appalachian Mountains) to as much as 30’ tall. Flowers appear in terminal clusters (corymbs to 6” across), typically covering the shrub in May for several weeks with an often exceptional bloom. Each flower (to 1” across) is cup shaped with five sides and ranges in color from rose to white with purple markings inside. If not deadheaded, flowers give way to non-showy brown fruits (3/16” dehiscent capsules) that persist into winter. Elliptic alternate leathery glossy evergreen leaves (to 5” long) are dark green above and yellow green beneath. Numerous cultivars of this plant are available in commerce, ranging in flower color from white to deep rose and combinations thereof. All parts of this plant are toxic if ingested. Mountain laurel has acquired a number of different common names over time including ivy bush, spoonwood, calico bush and American laurel. Linnaeus named the genus herein after Swedish botanist Peter Kalm (1716-1779) who explored plant life in parts of eastern North America from 1747 to 1751.
Susceptible to leaf spots and blights. Also susceptible to borers, scale, white fly and lace bugs.
Superior flowering native shrub for groups or massing in shrub borders, cottage gardens, woodland areas or wild/naturalized areas Compliments rhododendrons and azaleas.