Kalmia buxifolia (Sand Myrtle)

Scientific Name

Kalmia buxifolia (Bergius) Gift & Kron

Common Names

Sand Myrtle


Ledum buxifolium

Scientific Classification

Family: Ericaceae
Subfamily: Ericoideae
Tribe: Phyllodoceae
Genus: Kalmia


Color: White or light pink
Bloom Time: Summer


Kalmia buxifolia is an attractive shrub that grows up to 3.3 feet (1 m) tall. Leaves may be alternately or oppositely arranged on the stems. They are oval to lance-shaped and up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) long. The inflorescence is a raceme or umbel of up to 18 flowers with white or light pink petals. The fruits are small capsules.

Kalmia buxifolia - Sand Myrtle
Photo via alchetron.com


USDA hardiness zone 6a to 8b: from −10 °F (−23.3 °C) to 20 °F (−6.7 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Mountain Laurel is hardy to zone 5. It will need to be protected in winter with burlap barriers to block the winter wind in colder areas.

Purchase plants from your local garden center. Look for the hardiest varieties for cold areas. Plant shrubs from spring, after all danger of frost has passed, to summer in well-drained, moist, acidic, cool soils. Avoid windy areas, if possible. Space plants 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m) apart.

Keep young shrubs well watered. Keep the soil evenly moist and acidic with a layer of wood chips or evergreen bark mulch. Fertilize mountain laurel in spring with plant food for acidic-loving plants such as you'd use for Rhododendrons.

Mountain Laurel will get spindly, develop leaf spots, and have few flowers if grown in too much shade. Look for leaf spot resistant varieties if growing under these conditions. It also doesn't grow well in poorly drained soils. It's a slow grower that should only be pruned to shape the plant in spring after flowering. Dead, diseased, and broken branches can be taken out at any time. Mountain laurel doesn't have many pest problems. See more at How to Grow and Care for Mountain Laurel.


Native to the eastern United States.


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