Finding new plants to grow in your garden can feel confusing without the correct information. Are you thinking of adding laurel to your yard but have no idea whether it grows fast or slow? Do all laurel varieties grow at the same speed? We'll cover these questions and others below!
Generally, you can expect laurel to grow between six and 12 inches annually. This evergreen shrub species is on a slower growth rate, so don't expect a full-sized one immediately.
Furthermore, mountain laurels will follow this same growth speed, while other varieties like English laurels and Schip laurels will grow between one and two feet in ideal conditions.
Again, this will be different for everyone, so expect laurel to be somewhat slow growing regardless.
As we begin, we will cover all things laurels and discuss how fast one will grow. Whether you're new to this plant type or have one in your garden, we're here to offer some helpful insight. With that said, let's dive head first into this topic!
Do Laurels Grow Quickly?
No, laurels won't usually be very fast growing. Considering these evergreen shrubs have an expected yearly growth rate of 6-12 inches, you won't see them reach maturity for a while.
This species grows to a maximum height of 12-15 feet, so most gardeners won't see their laurel reach those heights until a decade or longer.
That said, this is pretty common for evergreens, as they tend to grow at a slower rate. Generally, shrubs won't be extremely fast growers, regardless of their species, so that's something to remember.
You can stimulate laurel to grow a bit faster, typically by light pruning a couple of times per year. You might also want to fertilize your laurel bush before the spring growing season, which should yield some extra growth.
Do All Laurel Varieties Have The Same Growth Rate?
Surprisingly, there are some laurel varieties with faster growth rates than others. As we mentioned, English laurels will grow between one and two feet annually, with some people seeing almost three feet in ideal conditions.
Another fast-growing laurel variety is the Schip laurel, which has an average growth rate of 12-24 inches. Of course, that's not to say you will always see so much height annually, but it is possible.
For anyone wanting to grow the popular mountain variety, you will see about half the growth as these other options. Typically, mountain laurels grow 6-12 inches per year, but it's common to see less.
However, with enough attention, fertilizer, and pruning, you should be able to speed things up, regardless of laurel variety.
Remember, this is a shrub, so shape yours and train it to grow as you please.
How Can I Make My Laurel Grow Faster?
For anyone wanting to see their laurel grow more throughout the year, there are some steps to take. Generally, you want to cut back a laurel shrub about a quarter of an inch to promote more growth.
According to Hopes Grove Nurseries, you can prune a laurel multiple times yearly, as long as you keep each trim mild.
Even though cutting your bush back can be beneficial, the last thing you want to do is stunt or kill it.
Therefore, we don't recommend cutting more than 1/4 of an inch each time you do this. You also don't want to prune laurel more than 2-3 times each year unless yours experiences a major growth spurt.
It's also imperative to only prune an evergreen during the spring-fall seasons. It might not be helpful to trim during wintertime, depending on where you live, as this can harm your plant.
Although your plant is technically evergreen, that doesn't mean it's ready for pruning 24/7.
Where Is The Best Place To Grow Laurel?
You want to grow laurel in as much sun as possible. Typically, it's better to plant laurel somewhere with full sun, but your plant will be able to survive in the heavy shade as well.
The main thing with these shrubs is giving them soil that drains well. Regardless of how much sun a laurel receives daily, you want to ensure yours doesn't sit in water for long periods.
If your garden is shadier than usual, you want to be careful with how much water your laurel is getting. Additionally, those in a sunnier place may need to water their laurel(s) more often, so this depends greatly on sun exposure.
Ideally, your evergreen will get between five and six hours of direct sun per day. The more sun exposure your laurel has, the faster and better it will grow, so this will affect that.
Although a laurel can survive in heavy shade, it won't be as lush as one with better sunlight, so be cautious when choosing a growing location.
How Much Water Do Laurels Need?
Now that you know how much sunlight a laurel needs, the next big thing is water. Generally, you need to water a newly planted laurel shrub 3-4 times per week for a few weeks.
Once your plant becomes more established, you can lessen your watering to roughly 1-2 times weekly. Your laurel might need more water depending on the climate where you live.
In contrast, your environment might also warrant less watering, so this goes both ways.
As we said above, laurel can handle sun or shade but doesn't like too much moisture. So, if you have a heavily shaded property, we don't recommend giving your plant more than an inch or so of water at a time.
On the other hand, if your yard has full sun throughout the peak afternoon hours, you might want to water a few times each week during hotter, drier periods.
Again, this all comes down to the weather, overall climate, and the amount of shade your laurel gets.
One of the benefits of growing this evergreen species is that it doesn't require much attention. Most times, it should be fine if a laurel shrub has good draining soil and a few hours of daily sunlight.
Is Laurel Drought-Tolerant?
Yes! If you're somewhere with a drier, drought-prone climate, laurel is a great option. This plant will generally handle long periods without watering well and shouldn't die during hotter conditions.
Considering that laurels have broad, leathery leaves year-round, they can hold moisture for longer times. Unlike some evergreen species, laurels make for great privacy hedges, as they won't wilt or shed foliage during the summer heat.
You can also count on laurels to continue growing during times with less moisture. Although this won't be significant, having a plant that won't let the summer heat stop it from flourishing is nice.
However, that doesn't mean you should intentionally neglect your evergreen. For example, giving your shrub(s) an inch or more of water each week through the summer is better than nothing at all.
Even though laurels are drought-tolerant, that doesn't mean forgetting to water them for prolonged periods won't lead to issues.
Which Laurel Is Best For Hedging?
One of the more popular laurels for hedging is the Rotundifolia variety. In good conditions, this laurel can reach two feet of growth per year, which makes it perfect for hedging.
Again, you can also try the English or Schip laurel for your garden hedges, so as long as your variety grows faster than usual, it will work well.
One way to maintain and grow a laurel hedge is by regularly pruning. Your plant is more likely to become fuller and taller if you give it a trim every season or so, hence why so many do this.
Additionally, hedging requires a bit more upkeep, considering you are essentially creating a wall out of your laurel, so keep that in mind.
It could even be helpful to plant your laurel hedges in a sunny location to promote even more growth.
How Often Should You Fertilize Laurel?
When it comes to fertilizing laurel, you want to do this once a year. As we said, giving your plant a boost of energy right as it starts growing can be very beneficial.
We recommend a typical evergreen fertilizer for the formula you use, which should do the trick.
According to the University of Illinois, you can also use a basic general-purpose fertilizer every two weeks during spring. The key here is not overdoing it with your fertilizer.
Too much of a good thing can quickly turn sour, so try to follow a schedule and then stop fertilizing once the summer/fall hits.
Scotts Evergreen Continuous Release Plant Food
This fertilizer has a continuous-release formula, encourages root growth and lush foliage, feeds for up to two months, won't burn your plants, and comes in a three-pound bag.
How Long Do Laurels Live?
For those wondering about the lifespan of a laurel shrub, this can vary. Usually, a laurel will live more than 50 years on average, although this can depend on its conditions.
That said, you could see a laurel live much longer if you have it growing in a sunny, unbothered place. This will all come down to your maintenance and the health of your evergreen.
Whether you want to plant laurels in your garden or grow them, it's essential to know their growth rate. We found that you can generally expect most laurel varieties to grow slowly.
Expect about 6-12 inches yearly for most laurels, while some varieties, like English, Schip, and even Rotundifolia, can grow 2-3 feet with the right conditions.
Regardless, it's vital to routinely prune and fertilize your laurels and keep them somewhere sunny with good draining soil.
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