Mountain laurel, also known as the big-leaved Kalmia, belongs to the family of Ericaceae.
Mountain laurel is an evergreen shrub. It can be found in the eastern parts of the United States. This beautiful decorative plant is so popular that the mountain laurel flower is the state flower of both Connecticut and Pennsylvania. There are several types of Kalmia, many of which are used in landscape garden design. The most picturesque flowering plants are the Kalmia latifolia and the Kalmia polypolia, which are grown in many gardens around the world.
Mountain laurel or Kalmia latifolia is a tall shrub, reaching a height of 7-15 ft (2.1-4.5 m) and growing slowly. The flowers are 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Mountain laurel can boast varied variety of colors from white to red, and even purple. The color of the bottom of the petal is different from its top. Mountain laurel blooms throughout May-June.
How do you Plant Mountain Laurel?
To do this, they choose a place that is protected from wind. Direct sun, especially in southern climates, is not the best solution for mountain laurel. It prefers sunny places, but also tolerates light shadow. It is better to select a place with a diffused sunlight.
Mountain laurel is grown on acidic, well-drained, and sufficiently moist soil. The acidity of the soil for successful cultivation should be between pH 4.5-5.5. Mountain laurel grows best in moderately fertilized soil. Before planting, fallen pine needles or dead coniferous bark, peat, and leaf soil are added into the ditch. To provide proportional moisture, the soil around the mountain laurel is mulched. The thickness of the mulch layer should be 3-4 inches (7.5-10 cm).
Watering is carried out according to the furrow and around the plant in order to develop the outside roots. Loosening is performed carefully as the root system of the mountain laurel is located on the top of the soil. Planting and care conditions are the same as with other Ericaceae. If you plant mountain laurel in the north, the place selected must be in the sun. If planting is carried out in the southern climates, mountain laurel prefers an area with the morning hours in the sun and light shade later in the day. Mountain laurel grows in USDA zones 4-9. Kalmia is to be sanitarily pruned. Dead or broken branches must be cut. Ventilation of the bush only benefits the plant. Therefore, thickened bushes are slightly thinned out.
There are many varieties of mountain laurel with stunning decorative qualities.
For example, the mountain laurel ‘Alpine Pink’ blooms with pink flowers with a white center.
‘Bridesmaid’ variety is a thick bush with lots of cup-shaped dark-pink flowers that grow up to 10 ft (3 m), with a blooming period in the late spring and early summer. It grows in zones 5-8.
‘Bay State’ mountain laurel is resistant to leaf spots. The flowers are peach, coral, or pink when in full bloom. The buds are reddish-pink.
Mountain laurel ‘Carol’ is resistant to leaf spots as well. The flower buds are dark-pink. While disclosing the flower, petals appear to vary from tenderly pink to white.
Mountain laurel ‘Minuet’ is a spectacular shrub with large white flowers and a bright red inner border.
Some Diseases of Mountain Laurel
- Fungal diseases
Sometimes, the mountain laurel is affected by fungal diseases (Phyllosticta kalmicola, Cercospora, etc.). These diseases are evidenced by leaf spots. In the middle or late summer, there are dark spots on dead parts of upper leaves. This is particularly evident in wet weather. Black areas of leaves are dotted with fungus spores. Consequently, spores are carried by the wind to healthy parts of the plant. Gradually, the entire leaf is affected, becoming brown, and eventually falling off.
How do you Deal with Fungal Diseases of Mountain Laurel?
Since fungal spores develop over winter on fallen leaves, they are shoveled and destroyed in autumn. If these measures are not enough, you can use fungicides, for example, Benlate. This is a solution of 2 teaspoons of fungicide, 1 liter of water, plus 1 teaspoon of good detergent, just for better adhesion of the solution. This composition is used to spray the leaves. If the disease has been discovered in the autumn, this mixture is sprayed twice, at an interval of 14 days in the spring. In wet weather, this interval is reduced to 1 week.
Mountain laurel may be affected by chlorosis too. This is a lack of iron, which is manifested by spots on young leaves. Firstly, leaves fade and become pale green; then, they turn yellow. The veins remain green. Chlorosis affects mountain laurel when the acidity of the soil is above pH 6.0. Lack of soil acidity prevents the absorption of iron. To increase the soil acidity, it is necessary to add ferrous sulfate or chelate, according to the instructions on the label. Most often, fungal diseases occur when there is excess moisture in the soil and air, or when there is a dry period. Mountain laurel is hardy enough to resist many diseases. During unfavorable conditions, the protective functions of mountain laurel are reduced.
The Mountain laurel is a beautiful and decorative plant which is grown by gardeners all over the world.
Now that you know all about Mountain laureland you can buy mountain laurel.