Mountain Laurel


Are you considering planting some new shrubs in your garden this spring? I looked over the carts of new arrivals at our local Lowe’s store yesterday, and noticed that there weren’t any native shrubs in the lot.

It got me to thinking about attractive native shrubs that we enjoy in our Forest Garden, and mountain laurel  immediately came to mind.  We look forward to weeks of bright flowers around Mother’s Day each year, and enjoy its attractive form and evergreen leaves the rest of the time.

If you’ve been trying to find an evergreen, deer resistant (poisonous) flowering shrub for a shade spot in your yard, please read on about our beautiful mountain laurel, from this 2014 post in the Forest Garden archives.


Forest Garden

May 11,2014 Bamboo and roses 040

Our Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia, began blooming over Mother’s Day weekend.

Saturday afternoon I looked out of the window, up into the forest, and was surprised to see our shrubs covered in flowers.

These evergreen wild looking shrubs, almost small trees, simply blend into the fabric of the forest through much of the year.  It is only for a few weeks in May that they burst into bloom, suddenly elegant and beautiful.

May 11,2014 Bamboo and roses 044

One of our most ornamental  native plants along the east coast of North America, early American  botanists first recorded Mountain Laurel, then called “Spoonwood,” in 1624.    Carl Linnaeus  named the shrub for Pehr Kalm, a Swede, who explored eastern North America in search of new and useful plants in 1748-49.  Mountain Laurel was one of the plants Kalm collected to export to gardeners in Europe.

Mountain Laurel grows from Maine all the way to Florida.  It even…

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About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

6 responses to “Mountain Laurel

  1. This was one of the many specie that we tried to grow, but discontinued because of limited marketability. It is the state flower of Pennsylvania.

    • Tony, maybe you can explain to me why it is so difficult to grow. Those that grow in nature from seed or suckers seem to do quite well here. But I’ve never had success planting one I purchased. It is a beautiful wonder of nature. I believe they are very particular about soil and shade. I’m sorry it didn’t do well for you. I would be thrilled to have a small forest of them!

      • I can not explain it either. I know that ours did not like the confinement of cans, and once in the ground, needed a while to recover. If planted while young, they recovered much sooner. Once recovered, they did quite well. It reminded my of many of our native plants that dislike confinement because they need to disperse their roots so immediately to survive summers here. They must be planted while young. However, plants from rainier climates should not be so sensitive, or in such a hurry to disperse their roots.
        With many plants, the varieties that are purchased in nurseries are bred so extensively that they lack vigor. However, I do not believe that this is true for mountain laurel.

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