The Tree Center

Otto Luyken Cherry Laurel

Written by Dave Gs • September 17 Cherry Laurel – the Top-Pick Easy Evergreen Shrub

It doesn’t matter how much or how little you garden, or how complex or simple your garden is, evergreens are going to be an essential part of it. They provide structure as screens or hedges, and they fill out empty corners with the perfect background. Around the house they give permanence to your foundation planting, and in the garden they keep things calm on the eyes, while flowers and leaves come and go around them.

Evergreens are essential, but we don’t want them to take up our time or be ‘fussy’ and difficult to grow – no, we want them to do their thing quietly and efficiently in the background, with a periodic trim being about all the care they need. If you are looking for evergreens like that, which are attractive all year round, yet never ask for much at all, then Cherry Laurels are the plants for you.

Just look at what they bring to your garden:

– Handsome, glossy leaves all year round
– Grow vigorously almost anywhere
– Ridiculously easy to grow
– Pest and problem free
– Drought, shade and deer resistant

Convinced yet? Truly, Cherry Laurel – which comes in several forms in different sizes, depending on your garden and your needs – is the top-pick evergreen of every smart gardener.

More About Cherry Laurel

Cherry Laurel comes in lots of sizes, but it always has simple, oval leaves that can be 4 to 8 inches long, depending on the variety. The leaves are glossy, and a rich, healthy green color, so they always look good in your garden. It grows naturally into a dense shrub, so its ideal for screening or filling spaces, even if you don’t bother to trim it. It is hardy anywhere from zone 6 to zone 8, so outside of the colder states, it can be grown all across the country, except for Florida and southern Texas. In spring untrimmed plants will produce upright clusters of white scented flowers, sometimes followed by black berries. Just one warning, although birds love them, those berries can be bad for you, so don’t let your children go sampling them. Plants that are regularly trimmed rarely produce flowers or berries, and you can avoid berries by trimming after flowering is over.

In some parts of the country Cherry Laurel is called English Laurel, so when buying it look for it by its scientific name – Prunus laurocerasus – and you can’t go wrong. It came to America with the early settlers, who knew a useful plant when they saw one, but before that it grew wild around the Black Sea.

Every garden has areas of shade – often deep shade, beneath larger trees, and there the soil is often dry too – literally a killer combination for almost any plant. But not for the Cherry Laurel. It is renowned for its ability to survive in those darkest corners – it may not grow quite so dense, but it will make a respectable filler where almost nothing else will grow. If those spots are problem areas in your garden, then the problem is solved. Of course it will also grow in partial shade and full sun too.

Cherry Laurel will grow in almost any soil, no matter if it is sandy or clay, wet or dry. It is happy in urban areas, and air pollution doesn’t bother it – it fact it cleans the air for you. Deer almost never eat it (never say ‘never’ about deer!) and it has no pests or diseases that trouble it or need spraying or other controls. If this sounds too good to believe, it really isn’t – you will see when you start growing it. If your goal is to improve your garden, and not interfere with your other activities, then this is the plant for you.

Varieties of Cherry Laurel

Now you have decided to pick Cherry Laurel for your garden, it’s time to look at the options. Some older gardeners might tell you it gets really big, but today we have different forms available, so you don’t have to worry about it taking over your small space. Some of the varieties you can grow include:

Otto Luyken Cherry Laurel

This variety is so special it won an award from the Royal Horticultural Society in England, so you can see how good it is. For smaller gardens this has become the ‘go to’ choice, and no wonder. Unlike the big old-fashioned forms, this shrub grows wide, and not so tall. It will usually reach just 3 or 4 feet tall, but that plant can be 6 or 8 feet wide. The leaves are smaller too, making a lovely compact plant. Use it to fill larger spaces, without blocking the view from windows, or from across your garden.

It may eventually start to grow taller, but if you don’t want that, just take your pruners and cut off any shoots that push up too tall – it’s that easy. This low growth makes it ideal for planting around your home, or for making a low barrier between one part of your garden and another. Use it for a friendly hedge that shows where your property starts but doesn’t block chatting with neighbors.

Apart from its low height, the great thing about this variety is its flowering. While other Cherry Laurel produce a few flowers, this one is smothered every year is a bold display of creamy-white blooms that almost hide the foliage. A light trim after flowering will prevent any berries forming, but if you trim it much outside that time you may reduce the quantity of flowers, which would be a shame.

Skip Cherry Laurel

Also known as Schikpa, or by its full name as ‘Schipkaensis’, this should be your first choice for that big screen or hedge, that is going to give you privacy and quiet all year round. That’s right, not only does a dense evergreen hedge block prying eyes or ugly views, it filters noise, turning your garden into a tranquil haven. As well it filters the air of dust and pollutants – so it’s a win-win all round.

The Skip Cherry Laurel will become a ten-foot hedge is four or five years, if you water and fertilize it regularly. Yes, you did read that right. In just a few years you have a mature screen of handsome rich green foliage. You can prune it into a neat hedge, or just let it grow naturally into something more casual, but just as beautiful. Over time it may grow well over 15 feet tall, and be about 6 feet wide, so allow enough room when planting so that it doesn’t develop space issues. Plant at least 3 feet from a wall, fence or boundary, and space your plants 4 or even 5 feet apart for a screen.

Dwarf English Laurel

This variety is a selection of unknown origin that grows to a medium size of 4 to 6 feet tall – right between the other varieties, making it ideal for a low privacy hedge, or for a taller, background plant behind your flowering shrubs. It is versatile enough to use almost anywhere in the garden, especially in those dark, shady spots where you can’t get other plants to grow.

Whatever variety you choose, you can plant with confidence, knowing that your Cherry Laurel will do the job you have chosen it for – easily.

Comments 14 comments

  1. April 9, 2020 by Norelle

    How tall is the 5 gallon skip cherry laurel?

    1. April 12, 2020 by Dave G

      2 1/2 to 3 feet. They grow very fast, so they will soon be much bigger.

  2. May 19, 2020 by JANET SARNO

    When the little white flowers bloom on our English Laurel, they look so pretty, but afterwards, they turn a dirty color brown & look ugly. I love these shrubs except for that. Is there any way to get rid of them
    because they linger too long, looking awful.
    Thank you.

    1. May 19, 2020 by Dave G

      The only way is to cut them individually or trim the whole plant. After flowering is a good time to trim anyway – keeps them neat and won’t interfere with next year’s flowering if done at this time only.

  3. May 22, 2020 by Jo Ann Cason

    Interested in a price for 13 five gallon skip cherry laurels. Delivered to Rehoboth Beach, DE.

    1. May 23, 2020 by Dave G

      Here is the link. We look forward to receiving your order, thank you!

  4. June 6, 2020 by geoff lieberman

    I’m looking for English laurels that can grow 15+ feet high

    1 How much do they grow yearly?

    2-What sizes do you have & prices

    3- I’m filling a fence line 20’ long

    1. June 7, 2020 by Dave G

      You can find all this information on our pages about Laurel – just use the search button.

  5. June 9, 2020 by Hollie Styons

    I purchased 3 cherry laurels about a month ago. I bought the 3 gallon laurels and they were stunning. I planted all 3 and they began to show new growth within a week. Gorgeous! However, one of the plants has completely shriveled and, I think, is dead. The other 2 are still green and growing but some of the leaves are turning yellow. I watered them regularly when first planted but began doing every other day or so after the first week and a half. What could I be doing wrong to cause one to die (maybe) and the others yo have some yellow leaves. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. June 9, 2020 by Dave G

      No idea why one would die that that. If the light conditions are low that would explain the yellow leaves, as the plants adjust to their new environment. These kind of ‘growing pains’ are common, and I wouldn’t give up on the shriveled one, which could easily re-sprout. I suspect you are watering too much – twice a week should be fine, making sure the area right around the stem is well-watered as the rootball can dry out even if the surrounding soil is moist.

  6. February 10, 2021 by Richard Slone

    We have a Cherry Laurel or a Carolina Laurel. It is planted 3 ft from our foundation, is that too close? It is beautiful and we are hoping we can just trim it and not have to have it dug up to be moved. Wools very much appreciate your answer if 3 ft is far enough away from the foundation if we keep it trimmed. Thank you for your attention to this.

    1. February 18, 2021 by Dave G

      That is a bit close for sure, and if it isn’t very old I would suggest moving it out to maybe 4 to 5 feet, depending on how big you intent to grow it. Since these grow large, you don’t want to be out trimming it twice a month!

  7. April 10, 2021 by Heather

    If some of the leaves are brown should I trim the brown leaves?

    1. April 12, 2021 by Dave G

      Brown leaves can be just that – dead leaves – but if they are on new stems they could indicate the stems are dead. Are there new green leaves or green buds showing on those branches. If so, yes, just trim off the dead leaves. If not, scratch the bark. Is it dry and brown underneath or moist and green or white? If it is dry and brown then the branch is dead – move further down, checking beneath the bark. Once you meet green or white underneath the bark, cut to the first leaf below where it begins. Sorry if all that sounds complicated – it’s pretty easy once you get the idea.