Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia

Family: Ericaceae (er-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Kalmia (KAL-mee-uh) (Info)
Species: latifolia (lat-ee-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)

Category:

Shrubs

Height:

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

Spacing:

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Partial to Full Shade

Full Shade

Danger:

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Pollen may cause allergic reaction

Bloom Color:

Pink

Red

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Foliage:

Evergreen

Smooth-Textured

Leathery-Textured

Other details:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

This plant is resistant to deer

Soil pH requirements:

4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)

5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)

Auburn, Alabama

Cullman, Alabama

Helena, Alabama

Mobile, Alabama

Bristol, Connecticut

Glastonbury, Connecticut

Old Lyme, Connecticut

Milton, Florida

Pensacola, Florida

Alpharetta, Georgia

Clarkesville, Georgia

Decatur, Georgia

Douglasville, Georgia

Lawrenceville, Georgia

Macon, Georgia

Coushatta, Louisiana

Cumberland, Maryland

Laurel, Maryland

Pasadena, Maryland

Riverdale, Maryland

Thurmont, Maryland

Valley Lee, Maryland

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Haydenville, Massachusetts

Lawrence, Massachusetts

Mashpee, Massachusetts

Westford, Massachusetts

Royal Oak, Michigan

Saucier, Mississippi

Jobstown, New Jersey

Moorestown, New Jersey

Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Ringwood, New Jersey

Patchogue, New York

Lake Toxaway, North Carolina

Marshall, North Carolina

Sylva, North Carolina

Eugene, Oregon

West Linn, Oregon

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Lititz, Pennsylvania

Malvern, Pennsylvania

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Tidioute, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

North Scituate, Rhode Island

Campobello, South Carolina

Greenville, South Carolina

Greer, South Carolina

Irmo, South Carolina

Salem, South Carolina

Benton, Tennessee

Christiana, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Elgin, Texas

La Vernia, Texas

Leander, Texas

Blacksburg, Virginia

Callao, Virginia

Fredericksburg, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Roanoke, Virginia

Springfield, Virginia

Kalama, Washington

Olympia, Washington

Port Ludlow, Washington

Sequim, Washington

Sumner, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

11
positives
5
neutrals
1
negative
RatingContent
Neutral

On May 14, 2015, Sequoiadendron4 from Lititz, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

I've had this plant for 4 years now and it's not much bigger than the day it was planted. Ours grows 2-3" per year and at this rate, it will be overgrown by neighboring rhododendrons that were planted at the same time. It is a faithful bloomer though and it is very nice since it blooms right after the rhodis are done blooming but before our native rhodi starts blooming. It has its own showtime =) Ours is the 'Yankee Doodle' variety and located in full shade with average to moist soil.

Neutral

On Apr 1, 2013, gruwellfam2 from Seattle, WA wrote:

I planted a Kalmia Latifolia in my yard 6 or 7 years ago. I hardly get any flowers year after year. Any advice? I live in Shoreline WA. I have it in mostly shade, water regularly. ??

Positive

On Feb 5, 2011, ragman51 from Macon, GA wrote:

Here's my experience with one of my garden favs: About 12 years ago, I planted mountain laurel at my house in Pensacola, FL that I got from Mail Order Natives in Lee, FL. When I moved to Macon, GA 2 years later, I dug them up and brought them with me and replanted at my new place. These are now over 5 ft high (x 3' ft wide at base) and fill with blossoms each year. I've even had success with several of the mountain laurels I've bought from NC and Oregon nurseries. Plant them high with lots of finely chopped pine bark for excellent drainage and site them for morning sun and shade from noon on. They will even blossom here on the north side of structures in all-day shade, provided they are exposed to an wide-open sky from directly above, but leaf spot is seems worse in these locations. ... read more

Positive

On Aug 14, 2010, rkwright85 from Horton, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

This was a pain to figure out but has been well worth the effort. They've been very hard for me to find and I have to order them from specialty nurseries usually. I haven't had luck with them although my rhododendrons have done fine. They're kind of like daphnes and not too bad once you figure them out. I had trouble with mountain laurels because of my soil pH and drainage. I made a small sandstone retaining wall and filled it with a mix of sand and peat moss (mostly peat moss). I've tested the soil pH between 5-5.5 and they have done much better (my soil is between 6.5-7 everywhere else). They get morning sun, afternoon shade and are sheltered from wind. Maybe I went through too much trouble but I don't regret it.

Positive

On Feb 25, 2010, Clary from Lewisburg, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel) is Pennsylvania's state flower. It is abundant in the low, moist areas of Pennsylvania's forests as an understory thicket but also grows tall and sparse in the drier highlands. Mountain laurel is an evergreen deciduous shrub in PA. It resembles rhododendron but can be distinguished from rhododendron by the habit of new growth, most obvious in winter: rhododendron develops growth "buds" in the fall which remain through winter and from which flowers and leaves will emerge in spring; mountain laurel lacks these buds and will instead produce sprays of leaves and flowers in the spring.

Positive

On May 14, 2008, stormyla from Norristown, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

There are no shrubs more beautiful than Laurels. Their buds are usually deeper in color than the blooms. There are closed buds and opened blooms at the same time, giving a wonderful show of various colors for several weeks. The glossy dark evergreen foliage is very handsome. The deep red budded varieties are spectacular. They can be quite tricky to grow. I keep moving them to different locations and eventually I find a spot where they flourish. They definitely seem to prefer semi shade and good drainage.

Neutral

On Aug 14, 2006, highbrassduo from Eugene, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

We just bought a house with some very dishevled shrubs in both the front and back yards. Today, we took a pruner to the two large azaleas. I assumed this plant was a Rhodie but does look different than the one out back. I found a nursery tag attached to one of the lower branches and sure enough, it's a Kalmia latifolia.

This plant has been a bit of a nuisance only because we have really bad spider problems and they love the shrubs in the yard. It has a great shape and blooms a very vibrant hot pink with somewhat white centers. I don't think it bloomed longer than a few weeks in June right around when we moved in.

I'm having a hard time researching how to care for this plant. Right now, it has all the brown pods that are completely dry. I just knocke... read more

Positive

On Oct 26, 2005, Sarahskeeper from Brockton, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

A friend gave me a young plant he dug up from his property a few miles away, as a house warming gift 26 years ago.
Seven years later I moved and took it with me. It is now on the east side of the house and gets just under half a days full sun. I do very little for it except water it in times of drought.
It never fails to give a striking display in June. I love the complexity of the flowers, their shape and colorings.
Rather slow growing but your patience will be rewarded. It now stands about 8 feet tall and 5 wide.
Andy P

Positive

On Jun 16, 2005, farmerbobp from Jobstown, NJ wrote:

I've started a small native plant nursery here in central NJ. Mountain laurel is found growing wild in this area on the poorer sandy type soils such as the Pine Barens. Unfortunately I can't find any young shrubs to offer my customers. The wild ones are impossible do dig out of the woods successfully and comercial nurseries don't offer the slow growing less showy plant. Any suggestions?

Positive

On Oct 18, 2004, jamie68 from Vancouver, WA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have 4 different varieties of this shrub - and I love them all!! Two are dwarfs: "Little Linda" has red buds and nice pink blooms. 21/2' - 3'all and wide after 10 yrs. The other mini is "Tiddlywinks" with darker pink buds opening to very light pink blooms with a very pretty starburst pattern in white inside each little bloom...beautiful!! It is the same size as "Linda". The two full-sized are: "Olympic Wedding" with light pink buds and white blooms that have a very distinct maroon-burgandy ring inside. And last but not least is "Olympic Fire" with its dark red buds opening to very light pink blossoms that fade to white inside. The "Olympic" sisters grow to 4' - 6' tall and wide.
All have lovely dark green, glossy foliage that is a gorgeous backdrop for the unique little buds a... read more

Positive

On May 31, 2004, jesup from Malvern, PA (Zone 7a) wrote:

In darker areas, it will grow tall and more spindly; it tends to be bushier in greater amounts of light, and blooms more. It's not really a full-sun plant, though it will do well in a fair bit of sun in SE PA so long as it's not too dry. It can handle fairly dry if the sunlight is controlled. Grows fairly well in poorish well-drained soils.

The branches tend to be very interesting looking as well; often bonsai-ish.

Lots of varieties - peppermint has red stripes on the inside, Yankee Doodle has red buds, and Sarah has bright red buds and pinkish-red flowers (closest to pure red out there).

For best growth and flowers, deadhead after blooming.

Deer will eat it in winter if under population pressure or if there's a low food supp... read more

Positive

On May 21, 2004, SLEDDER from Pittsburgh, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is PA's state bush. It can be difficult to start but once established it's a nice bush. Some northern winters are tough on them but simply trim and they do fine.

Positive

On Apr 28, 2004, chitwoodstock from Camden, AR wrote:

I am becoming interested in Native Plants. My husband and I traveled to "Briarwood" which is Caroline Dormon's Nature Preserve, located in the western area of Central Louisiana. The first plant we noticed was the mountain laurel. We definitely want to add this to our collection of plants, and found that it is available at some nurseries, but we were advised that we should determine that it is from the southern variety.

These plants were very healthy and in full bloom.

Negative

On Jan 5, 2004, sandraking from Leander, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

In the Texas hill country these plants are attacked by small yellow worms from spring to summer. The worms only eat the new growth and are controlled with Cygon 2-E.

Positive

On Jun 8, 2003, woodspirit1 from Lake Toxaway, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

I love this plant. They grow wild here in the mountains. I don't think they do well in hotter climates. An interesting note, locals call this ivy, but I don't know why. They often cut the tops out, bundle them and ship them north to wholesale florists. They call this activity "breaking ivy." Of course, this plant is not related to ivy at all.
Another interesting colloquilism: botanists call the tops of mountains covered in mountain laurel and rhoderdendron, "Heath Balds" but locally they are called "Laurel Slicks."

Neutral

On Jan 16, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Seeds germinate best when sown in pure peat.

Neutral

On Aug 30, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Flowers May - July
Habitat: Moist soils, rocky woods and swamps
Range: Eastern United States
Leaf elliptical, leathery, evergreen
Flowers starlike, deep pink to white, with 5 fused petals