Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a broad leaf evergreen that grows and flowers well in full sun to part shade, making it a versatile shrub in the landscape. The broad, dark green leaves provide interest all year long. In spring clusters of cup-shaped flowers open in shade of white, pink and red. It’s a favorite of bees and butterflies.
The shrub grows naturally in the filtered light under tall deciduous trees such as oak and maple, especially near a wet, swampy area. It flowers best, though, with more sun in an open landscape, but the leaves may turn a yellow-green color in full sun.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Mountain Laurel is hardy to zone 5. In colder areas it will need to be protected in winter with burlap barriers to block the winter wind.
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 a 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.