Cherry laurels are extremely popular with landscape designers as evergreen foundation shrubs and hedges, but they're less well known to the public because they're not showy. They don't exactly scream "buy me" at the nursery.
The 'Otto Luyken' and 'Schip' laurels are the favorites, both of which I use in my garden - they're used to hide both the foundation of the house and the under-deck view. And the taller species functions well as an evergreen screening hedge along my side property line. But don't miss the pruning ideas below.
- All varieties do well in full sun or partial shade, and 'Otto Luyken' even tolerates deep shade.
- White blooms appear mid-spring
- Size? Take your pick.
- The species (photo right) grows fast (up to 2' per year) to 20 feet tall, if left unpruned.
- 'Otto Luyken' grows to 3-4 feet tall and 6-8 feet wide. It's shown in the top photo.
- 'Schipkaensis' or 'Schip' (photo below) grows to 4-5 feet tall and 5-8 feet wide.
- Sources say they need good drainage, but doesn't almost every plant?
- Hardy to Zone 6.
- One less-than-helpful source tells us to "water regularly". In my experiencethey're quite drought-tolerant, once established in the garden (after at least the first season).
- To prune for smaller size, cut the tallest stems back to varying heights, but always just above another branch (don't leave stumps). OR remove the tallest one-third of the stems all the way to the ground or close to it every year.
- Left unpruned, cherry laurels can become so thick and densely branched that light and air are restricted and disease and pest infestations are encouraged. So keep them more open and healthy by removing some of the interior branches, especially ones growing toward the center.
- Don't prune by sheering around the edges to a perfect but unnatural shape - this will lead to the same dead interior problems described above (disease, pests).
Readers, if you've grown these, do what's been your experience with them?