Carolina Cherry Laurel
Grows 20-30' (6-10 m) tall.
15-25' (4.5-7.5 m) apart.
Tips and Uses
Prefers well-drained soil; check often until established
Protect from winter winds
For mixed gardens
› General Plant Info
- Trees are large, hardy plants with woody stems that are long-term additions to the garden or landscape. Most have a single trunk and a full, branching crown, though some grow in clumps with several trunks. Most will exceed 15-20’ at maturity. The line dividing shrubs from trees can be a fine one, depending on how a plant is used and the climate in which it is grown.
- Trees bring year-round structure to a landscape or garden, in any climate. They provide shade, bird habitat, seasonal flowers, foliage color and texture and branching form. Some varieties have many changing seasons of interest, while others area a constant presence or may provide a brief but spectacular display.
- Trees have a place in nearly any home landscape.
- Deciduous trees shade a home in summer, helping to keep it cool. In the winter sunlight can get through and help keep it warm.
- Flowering and shade trees are the highlight of landscape plantings, proving a canopy for sitting areas and shaded areas.
- Evergreens and fast-growing deciduous trees can be used as a windbreak or screen to control or block views of neighboring properties.
- Small groupings offer a display of seasonal color.
- When used with shrubs, they provide a transition from landscaped to natural areas.
- As a part of larger landscape plantings to complement an overall design.
- Fruit trees bring flowers and produce to the landscape.
- Trees are green — they help reduce your carbon footprint by consuming carbon dioxide, producing oxygen, and purifying air and water.
- Design and site considerations:
- Bloom time - Flowering trees can provide a burst of seasonal color, and are an important part of staging your garden planning so something is blooming throughout the season.
- Color - Choose plants that will enhance your color themes throughout the season. Don’t forget that color comes not only from flowers, but also berries, bark, and seasonally changing foliage.
- Height - Consider the mature height of your tree (usually based on 20 years of age) when deciding where to place it. Consider overhead wires and nearby structures and plantings.
- Spacing recommendations are based on the typical width of a mature plant. You may space plants farther apart or closer together, depending on how quickly you want them to fill in. Bear in mind that planting large-growing trees in too-small spaces can result in a lot of maintenance and pruning down the road, whether due to crowding of buildings, walkways or drives or neighboring properties.
- Light preference - Always match your plants to the light conditions where they will be growing. Most plants are put into one of three basic categories:
- Full sun - 6 or more hours of direct sun
- Part sun - 4-6 hours of direct sun. Also includes bright areas with dappled light
- Shade - Less than 4 hours of direct sun
- Watering needs - For best success, combine plants with similar water needs, and select plants for the conditions your property provides.
- Fruit trees may be integrated into the landscape or grown together as an orchard for ease of care and harvest.
- Special features - Look for qualities that suit your gardening objectives, such as low maintenance, fragrance, resistance to deer damage, etc.
- You’ll enjoy your plants more if you visit them regularly, and they’ll always look fresh if you take the opportunity to remove any faded blooms or trim stray growth. You’ll also notice any problems early and be able to take preventive action.
› Water Tips
- New transplants will require extra care for the first few weeks. Initially, you’ll need to frequently check the soil at the plant’s base, and water if it feels dry to the touch. Observe plants closely to check for signs of flagging, and make sure to water before plants wilt. Trees may take a full growing season to establish as their roots grow out into their new soil.
- As plants become established, they will need less water, depending on rainfall. A rain gauge is a helpful tool to understand how much water plants receive, and determine any additional irrigation needed. Mature trees should need minimal watering except in periods of drought.
- Conditions that increase water needs:
- Dry, windy weather
- Periods of drought
- Sandy, light soils that do not hold moisture well
- For new transplants, make sure the water soaks the original root ball as well as the surrounding soil.
- Slow, deep watering is most effective; frequent, shallow watering encourages shallow root systems that are less drought tolerant.
- Apply water in a slow trickle at the base of the plants to minimize evaporation and keep foliage dry, which also helps prevent disease.
- If plants are starting to wilt, water right away.
› Planting Tips
- Most soils benefit from the addition of organic matter such as compost, peat or composted manure. This helps poor, sandy soils to better retain moisture, and breaks up heavy clay soil to help air, water and plant roots move more freely.
- For new planting beds, prepare the soil by tilling and work in organic matter following product recommendations.
- To add new plants to an established bed or use as a specimen in the lawn, dig a hole twice as wide and about the same depth as the root ball of your new plant, slightly more shallow if soil is heavy clay. Mix organic matter with the native soil.
- Gently remove plant from its container, taking care not to pull on the trunk as this can cause damage by breaking away roots.
- Loosen roots gently if they are packed tightly into the shape of the container.
- Plant at the same depth as it was in its container, except as noted above. If plants are being set high, it is important to cover the root ball well, forming a gradual slope to the natural soil level.
- Make a low ring of soil around the plants, just wider than the root ball. This will help funnel the water to the plant’s roots during the establishment period.
- For peat pots, break away the lip of the container so that it is just lower than the soil, then plant as above. For other plant-in-the-pot products, follow package directions.
- Water carefully with a gentle flow, soaking the prepared soil and the transplants.
- Mulch may be applied between the plants, keeping a few inches away from the plant stems. This will help prevent weeds and retain moisture.
- In gusty, windy sites, plants may benefit from staking to keep them upright while the roots establish.
- Choose stakes that are about 1/3 the height of your tree, plus 2’ to be in the ground.
- Drive stakes into the ground on either side of the planting hole, before tree is installed.
- Use only soft material to tie the trees, such as strips of rubber, webbing or burlap.
- Tie straps tightly to stakes and wrap loosely around tree trunk, leaving some slack for the tree to move. Trees develop strong anchor roots in response to windy conditions, and will not do so if supported too strongly by the stakes.
- Remove all staking and ties after first year.
- Choose a container with drainage holes. There is no need to add pot shards or stones to the bottom of the pot.
- Large planter boxes and containers are best if you want the plants to stay in the container for more than one season. Plants have more room to grow, and are less likely to dry out or be damaged by freezing in larger containers.
- Use a lightweight professional potting mix for containers, or a high-quality organic garden soil for very large open-bottomed planters.
- Remove plants from the nursery pots.
- Loosen roots gently if they are packed tightly into the shape of the container.
- Plant at the same depth as the root ball.
- Water thoroughly with a gentle flow.
- Note that plants grown in containers are more vulnerable to winter extremes. In cold winter climates it is recommended to transplant trees into the ground in fall, unless they are hardy to two full zones colder than your region.
- As a rule, trees will not require a lot of fertilization. For trees that are part of planting beds, replenishing soil annually with a top dressing of compost, and maintaining a 2-3” layer of organic mulch will help build and retain good soil fertility.
- Sites with poor or lean, sandy soil may need some help with supplemental fertilizers.
- Fruit trees may be fertilized to promote better harvests.
- Time-release fertilizers are ideal for trees, and are applied only a few times during the growing season, depending on the product. Each time the plant is watered, a small amount of fertilizer is released.
- Choose a product formulated for your type of tree, and follow package instructions carefully.
- If you are uncertain about your soil fertility, your local extension service can usually recommend testing services.
- New transplants will not require fertilization until after they have become established, unless you are using a specially formulated starter product.
- If your plants are dry and wilting, water immediately with clear water. Fertilizing at this time will cause leaf burn. Wait until plants have perked back up before feeding.
› Pruning Tips
- There are many reasons to prune trees. Most are a matter of style or preference rather than need:
- To control size and shape of plants to maintain a formal design or keep in proportion.
- To keep plants attractive by removing asymmetrical growth or shoots, including "suckers" — shoots that come up from the base of the trunk, often below a graft.
- To remove dead or damaged branches.
- To remove rubbing branches and thin out plant center for better air circulation.
- For fruit trees, to open the center of trees for good air circulation and light penetration, and to keep bearing branches in reach for ease of harvest.
- Spring-flowering trees should be pruned within a few weeks after blooming. This allows the spring display to be enjoyed, and gives the plant time to develop new buds for a good display the following season.
- Fruit trees are generally pruned in the late winter, while trees are still dormant.
- Citrus trees can be pruned lightly at any time to control shape. Outdoor, in-ground trees should not be pruned in winter harvest season.
- Shaping and clipping needled evergreens is best done in late winter or early spring, before new growth has started, but light trimming can be done during the growing season to maintain plant shape. Severe pruning of these plants should not be attempted without research, as not all types will grow back as expected.
- Removal of dead, damaged or diseased branches may be done any time.
- Light pruning for shape and removing suckers can be done at any time.
- Pruning removes part of the plant, but also encourages new growth at the point of a cut. For a more natural appearance, make selective cuts just past a side branch or bud, with attention to the direction the remaining shoot will take.
- Shearing and hedging works well on some plants, but not all. Follow recommendations for your specific plant.
- For severe pruning, avoid removing more than 1/3 of the total growth without researching the tolerances of the specific plant.
- Weed control - Keep the area around plants weed-free to prevent competition and reduce pest and disease problems.
- Look for any signs of disease or insect damage so that you can take prompt preventive action.