Laurel palm: planting, growing, pruning and maintenance


This shrub called laurel palm is the Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). It belongs to the family of Rosaceae. Although toxic for humans and many animals, it is very common in our rural and urban landscapes where it is widely used as a hedge. It has evergreen foliage of a brilliant green and its leaves are leathery like those of the laurels of the genus Laurus. And yet, contrary to what its name may suggest, belongs to the genus prunus. Let’s take stock of its planting and its needs in terms of exposure, soil, pruning and maintenance.

Plant a laurel palm

We recommend planting a laurel palm in autumn, and more precisely during the month of October in order to promote its rooting. However, it is possible to plant it until March, but always outside the frost period.

To plant a Cherry Laurel or Palm Laurel, just follow the steps below.

  • dig a generously sized hole, at least 60 cm in diameter and 80 cm deep.
  • Clear the extracted soil of weed roots and pebbles, then mix it with planting soil.
  • Install the young laurel palm in the center of the hole, making sure do not bury the base of the trunk which should instead be slightly above ground level.
  • Fill the hole with the garden soil/potting mix.
  • Carry out a first watering.
  • Compact the soil moderately.
  • Water a second time.

If you wish to plant several palm laurels in order to form a beautiful evergreen hedge, care must be taken to space the shrubs from each other by 80 to 100 cm.

Growing a Laurel Palm

The Cherry Laurel or Palm Laurel likes mild climates, but is still hardy. He likes them sunny situations but can tolerate very light shade. It tolerates very well being planted in neutral to moderately acidic soil.

Of rapid growth, it reaches its maximum height in a few years. Depending on the variety, it measures in adulthood between 1 m (for dwarf varieties to be grown in pots) and 8 meters. It is used in sight and windbreak hedge effective in all seasons since its leaves are evergreen. The palm laurel flowers in April, and in autumn it produces a multitude of berries which some birds love. But make no mistake, the toxicity of laurel palm for humans is not a myth. Do not eat any of its parts (leaves, flowers, berries, pits, etc.).

Prune the laurel palm

Much appreciated for its rapid growth, the Laurel palm requires one to two annual prunings, especially if planted in a hedge. This task poses no particular problem. It is however necessary to respect the pruning periods, namely the first in May and the second in the month of September. We recommend the use of secateurs because a hedge trimmer would only damage the leaves.

After a few years, if the sizes have not been very well followed, the Laurier palme can really be very bulky. It is then essential to perform a severe pruning who should intervene in March. In this way, the gardener rebalances all the antlers. The Cherry Laurel is all the more aesthetic after this large toilet. However, it is recommended to opt for regular pruning, every year, rather than for a severe pruning every three or four years.

It is a species of shrub which can become very invasive, especially when the palm laurels are planted in large numbers to form a hedge for example, and if we are not careful, this can prevent multiple plant species to develop due to the lack of light that an excessive concentration of evergreen trees inevitably entails.

Note that you can opt for a dwarf variety if you have a very small plot.

Caring for the laurel palm

This shrub does not have high demands.

Water

Regular watering, especially in summer, is welcome during the first year after planting.

Protect in winter

There is no need to protect the Laurel palm in winter in mild climates. These hardy shrubs support between -15 and -20°C. They can certainly suffer a good blow of frost, but it is rare that the stump is affected.

Pests and diseases

The Laurel palm is quite rarely the target of mealybugs and aphids.

Renowned for its resistance to disease, it can still be affected bypowdery mildew, quite common in Cherry Laurel. To prevent this fungal disease, do not hesitate to use Bordeaux mixture.

About the verticillium wilt, a cryptogamic disease due to the presence of a pathogenic fungus of the genus Verticillium, it causes leaf chlorosis, followed by necrosis of the leaves, which eventually fall. All the affected parts must be removed and then burned in order to avoid contaminating the other laurels, and it may even be necessary to destroy the diseased tree in order to preserve the hedge. In parallel a general treatment with a fungicide is essential.