Mountain Laurel

Scientific Name:  Kalmia latifolia

Light:  full sun to full shade

Zone:  4 to 9

Height:  5 to 20 feet

Width:  5 to 15 feet

Flowers:  May to July, white to pink or purple, showy

Fruit/Seed:  May to June, brown capsule

Fall Color:  evergreen

Butterflies: attracted to flowers

Birds:

Hummingbird:  attracted to flowers

Deer Resistant:  Yes but occasionally severely damaged

Insects/Pollinators:  provides nectar

Native:  Carroll and throughout Maryland

Idea Garden:

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Description

Mountain Laurel provides winter cover for many species. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the flowers. Although mountain laurel is toxic to domestic livestock and humans, white-tailed deer, eastern cotton tails, black bear, and ruffed grouse use mountain laurel especially as winter forage or during years of food shortages.

Best grown in cool, moist, rich, acidic, well-drained soils in part shade. It should be mulched to retain moisture and keep root zones cool.  Raised plantings are best to promote better drainage. Plants do not grow well in heavy clay soils. Immediately after bloom, remove spent flower clusters and prune  to promote bushy growth.

Since most nursery grown plants are produced in soil-free potting material, they dry quickly when installed in the garden unless time-consuming watering is continued until the plant is established.

Cultivars/Varieties .

f. angustata –  narrow foliage that is linear, like willow leaves.

‘Apetala’  –  flowers  lack most of their petal structure and consist mainly of pinkish-white extended stamens.

‘Bay State’ – flowers salmon-pink or coral-pink when open, and reddish pink in bud.

‘Bridesmaid’ – Dark pink buds,  bicolor bloom, outer edges pink, center light pink to white.

‘Bullseye’ – purple band of pigmentation inside the flower corolla, emerging foliage reddish.

‘Carol’ – buds dark-pink outside and light pink to nearly white when open.

‘Carousel’ – flowers are b purplish-cinnamon  on the inside of the corolla, flower edge is marked with white.

‘Comet’ – flowers  white and deeply-lobed.

‘Elf’ – semi-dwarf, flowers pink in bud and nearly white when open.

‘Freckles’ – flowers  have 10 purple-cinnamon spots on the inside of the white corolla.

f. fuscata – dark brown to purple band of pigment inside the corolla

‘Galaxy’ – flowers with 5-petal-like lobes, burgundy on the inside, white on the corolla backside.

‘Heart of Fire’ – flowers red in bud and open pink.

‘Heart’s Desire’ – red flower buds open to cinnamon-red inside of the corolla.

‘Kaleidoscope’ – very similar to ‘Heart’s Desire’

‘Little Linda’ – red flower buds and pink open flowers,  semi-dwarf

‘Madeline’ – semi-double blooms, pink in bud and white-pink when open.

‘Minuet’ – miniature, buds  light pink and open to corolla with a wide, cherry-red band inside.

‘Nathan Hale’ – red buds  open pink.

Olympic Fire’ – red-pink flower buds and light pink blooms.

‘Olympic Wedding’ – Lavender-pink in bud with maroon-banded blooms, foliage turns purplish in the winter.

‘Ostbo Red’ –  red-budded

‘Peppermint’ –  striking white flowers with 10 red “spokes” radiating from the flower center.

‘Pink Charm’ – dark pink flower buds, open  rich pink.

‘Pink Surprise’ – buds and open flowers  pink, new growth is purplish-red

‘Pinwheel’ -cinnamon-maroon flowers with white centers and scalloped edges.

f. polypetala –  flower corolla  cut into 5 strap-like petals.

‘Raspberry Glow’ – burgundy-red flower buds open very deep pink, flowers well  in shade.

‘Richard Jaynes’ – reddish buds  open  whitish-pink

‘Sarah’ –  red in bud and pink-red when open.

‘Shooting Star’ – corolla has 5 distinct lobes, with each lobe reflexed once the flower opens.  foliage yellow-green when young and can be mottled when mature. Not cold hardy in zone 5

‘Silver Dollar’ – oversize flower color is very light pink to white

‘Snowdrift’ – pure white

‘Tiddywinks’ –  semi-dwarf, buds strong pink and open to soft pink

‘Tightwad’  – pink buds that swell but never open.

‘Tinkerbell’ – T very similar to ‘Tiddywinks’, but slightly darker color

‘Willowcrest’ and ‘Willowood’ – narrow, linear strap-like foliage. Not cold hardy in zone 5.

‘Yankee Doodle’ – buds bright red-pink and open to  a pink corolla with a narrow maroon band.

Sources

Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Mountain Laurel – USDA

Mountain Laurel – Missouri Botanical Garden

Mountain Laurel – University of Connecticut Plant Database

Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance – Rutgers

Mountain Laurel – North Carolina Extension

 

Recommended for Wildlife by

Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed

HG120 Native Plants of Maryland

Bringing Nature Home by Tallamy

Essential Native Trees and Shrubs for the Eastern United States by Dove & Woolridge

Additional information

Zones

Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8

Light

Part Sun, Shade, Sun

Soil

Clay, Dry, Loam, Moist, Wet

Flower Color

Pink, Purple, White

Flower Season

Spring, Summer

Fruit Season

Spring, Summer

Native

Carroll, Coast, Mountain, Piedmont

Wildlife Value

Beneficial Insects, Deer Resistant, Hummingbird, Nectar, Summer Cover, Winter Cover

Notable Features

Evergreen, Hedge

Local Availability

Available, Widely Available

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