Kalmia latifolia L.
Mountain Laurel, American Mountain Laurel, Calico Bush, Spoonwood, Spoonwood Tree, Broad-Leav'd Kalmia
Chamaedaphne latifolia, Kalmia latifolia f. latifolia, Kalmia latifolia var. latifolia
Color: Pink to white
Bloom Time: Late spring and early summer
Kalmia latifolia is the state flower of Connecticut and Pennsylvania. It is a dense evergreen shrub that grows up to 30 feet (9 m) tall. Leaves are glossy dark green, up to 4.7 inches (12 cm) long, and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) wide. It blooms in late spring and early summer. Flowers are round, ranging from pink to white, and occur in clusters.
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 the frost's danger 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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