Shrubs

Guide to Cherry Laurel: How to Grow & Care for “Prunus Laurocerasus”

Read our guide to Prunus Laurocerasus for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing & caring for “Cherry Laurel” plants
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Prunus Laurocerasus, usually named Cherry Laurel, Common Laurel, or English Laurel in North America, is a species of evergreen shrubs in the Prunus genus. Cherry Laurel plants are originated in regions that border the Black Sea in southeastern Europe and southwestern Asia.

These plants are widely cultivated as ornamental plants in temperate regions around the world. People plant Cherry Laurel shrubs in parks and gardens as landscape plants, screening plants, and hedgerows.

The common names of this species refer to the foliage and appearance similarity to Bay Laurel, which is the true laurel in the Lauraceae family. Although these plants are not closely related, both were used in making laurel wreaths.

About Cherry Laurels

  • Prunus Laurocerasus plants are often mistaken for Prunus Caroliniana, their American relative species, which are also known as Cherry Laurel.
  • Cherry Laurel can be found in places with a lot of shrubbery and woods. They grow in many regions, from Bulgaria and Albania to northern Iran and the Caucasus Mountains.
  • Cherry Laurel plants are very tolerant of all types of light conditions, surviving even the extreme ones.
  • Water your Cherry Laurel when the soil starts to dry out, as over-watering may affect its overall health. They can survive short periods of drought.
  • They will benefit from a damp, well-drained, and nutrient-rich soil mix. Also, to improve their overall health, you can feed them an organic fertilizer once a year.
  • They tend to grow rather chaotically, so they can be pruned to maintain the size and shape you prefer.
  • They are toxic to humans and pets if the leaves or seeds are ingested. The cherry seeds contain amygdalin and cyanogenic glycosides, the poisonous chemical composition that gives them the almond-like smell.
Cherry Laurels are used as hedges
Cherry Laurels are used as hedges

Cherry Laurel Features: An Overview

  • They have become quickly and widely naturalized. These species are considered invasive plants in regions like the Pacific Northwest of North America and the United Kingdom. They are easily spread by birds that drop their seeds anywhere they please.
  • Due to their evergreen, high tolerance to extreme environmental conditions, and fast-growing habits, Cherry Laurel can compete with other native plants and eventually kill them.
  • Cherry Laurel species are shrubs or trees of small to medium size. On average, they can grow between 16.4 and 49.2 feet (5-15 m) tall, but some of them can reach 59 feet (18 m). Their trunk measures up to 1.9 feet (60 cm) broad.
  • If crushed, their leaves can smell like almonds, but they are rather toxic. They are dark green, leather-like, and shiny, having a slightly serrated margin. The common dimensions for the leaves are somewhere between 1.9 and 11.8 inches (5-30 cm) in height and 1.5 and 3.9 inches (4-10 cm) in width.
  • Cherry Laurel shrubs produce flower buds in early spring that bloom in early summer. The 30 to 40 flowers are exhibited in erect racemes of 2.7 to 5.9 inches (7-15 cm) long. They have creamy-white petals and multiple yellow stamens with a sweet smell.
  • They bear small cherries that have 0.3 to 0.7 inches (1-2 cm) in diameter. In early autumn, these fruits ripen and turn black.
  • Prunus Laurocerasus wood contains a lot of water. Cutting Cherry laurel wood can be a difficult process because it tends to gum up the saw blades. Also, it splits and distorts while it dries out.
Prunus Laurocerasus are fast growing
Prunus Laurocerasus are fast growing

Growing Cherry Laurel

Cherry Laurel plants are pretty easy to grow for every type of gardener. They are tolerant of extreme light conditions, drought, aerosol salt, and even neglect.

These shrubs are able to survive in both sunny and shady spots. They benefit from bright, direct sunlight in cool areas and partial to full shade in warmer climates.

Although Cherry Laurel plants can thrive in almost any environmental condition, they do not get along with frost. Most species available are quite hardy in temperatures between 59 and 68 ° F (15-20 °C) and varieties like Zabeliana, Forest Green, and Otto Luyken can even cope with temperatures that drop below -4 °F (-20 °C).

They prefer a damp but well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients. The ideal types of soil for these plants would be sand, clay, loam, acidic, or slightly alkaline soil mix.

Can be tightly trimmed
Can be tightly trimmed

When it comes to fertilizing these shrubs, it is recommended that you do it by following all the labels and package instructions. They do not need too much fertilizer, as it can cause root burning or high overall damage. Make sure you feed your Cherry Laurel plant both evergreen and ornamental tree fertilizers only once a year in the spring. These fertilizers will provide all the nutrition needed, maintain the foliage lush and the flowers intensely fragrant. You can also use light fertilizers that contain sulfur and iron.

Generally, Cherry Laurels are healthy, resistant plants but they are susceptible to leaf spot and fungal diseases such as stem canker and fire blight. Some pests like caterpillars, mites, or borers may show up once in a while. You can treat your plant using a suitable organic pesticide such as neem oil.

Pruning a Cherry Laurel is one of the most entertaining activities you will experience with these shrubs. This will help your plant develop a stronger structure. When you simply get bored or your plant needs a fresh look, you can cut the leaves and shape the plant to make it look nicer. Put your imagination to work!

Watering Cherry Laurel

When growing cherry laurel, the frequency of watering is not very important, as long as the soil is kept damp but well-drained. When planted outdoors, these versatile plants usually get enough moisture from rainfalls, so you should not worry too much about watering them.

If you live in a region where rainfall is scarce or completely absent, you should water these shrubs as soon as the soil starts to look completely dry. Make sure their roots and the surrounding soil is damp and always check the soil in-between watering sessions.

When you first plant a Cherry Laurel, give the soil a deep soak, allowing the water to reach the plant’s root ball. If you want to make your shrub grow faster, you can stimulate it using a root stimulator. This solution will ensure a stronger root development and the growth of greener, healthier plants.

The secret with Cherry Laurel plants is to deep soak them less frequently rather than slightly water them every day. The best time for watering is early in the morning. During the colder seasons or once they are comfortable in the new environment, they can tolerate short periods of dryness.

Another hedging look
Another hedging look

Propagating Cherry Laurel

Do you want to add more greenery to your outdoor or indoor garden?  Shrubs are a great option as they are very easy to grow and to propagate. The most efficient way to propagate cherry laurel plants is by taking stem cuttings or root cuttings. These methods can take some time, but if you are a passionate gardener, there should be no problem.

To propagate a cherry laurel shrub through stem cuttings, take a sharp knife and cut the last 5-6 inches (12-15 cm) of a branch. Remove the extra leaves from the bottom and keep the top three or four intact. Cut the bottom part of the main stem at an angle and wrap it in damp paper towels and a plastic bag. Prepare a mix of water and rooting hormone solution and dip the cutting into it.

Fill a container with potting soil, make a deep 6-inch (15 cm) hole, and pour a little sand in it. Plant the cutting into the soil and water it until it becomes damp. Move the container into a sheltered spot with full sunlight and wait about six weeks for the roots to appear. Usually, the plant needs a year or so to grow strong enough for your outdoor garden.

Another nice look
Another nice look

The best time to propagate your Cherry Laurel by taking root cuttings is in winter. Using a sharp knife, cut a 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) root section of the closest end to the shrub. After that, cut the opposite one at an angle. Damp the cutting and cover the lower end with sulfur.

Fill a potting vessel with soil, make a hole in it, and pour sand in the first bottom layer. Plant the cutting into the potting mix, then fill the remaining spots with extra soil. Place the shrub in a sheltered but sunny area until the spring season. Regular watering is required to keep the soil damp. Once the shrub starts to grow, you may proceed as with the stem cuttings.

In Conclusion

Once these shrubs are established in their new environment, they become low-maintenance ornamental houseplants that complement any room. They are very easy-going, so you should definitely consider including them in your indoor or outdoor garden.

If you plant cherry laurel shrubs in a nice spot in your garden where they get proper light conditions and temperature, they’ll grow quickly and you’ll soon be able to trim them and shape them as you wish. All you have to do is water them occasionally to keep their soil moist, prune them regularly, and protect them from possible infestations. If you are patient enough, you can even build your own labyrinth of shrubs by simply propagating these beauties.

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Miruna Secuianu

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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