Carol Mountain LaurelKalmia latifolia 'Carol'
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Kalmia latifolia 'Carol'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Shade
The Carol Mountain Laurel is a specially-selected form of this native shrub, with beautiful evergreen foliage, growing 6 to 10 feet tall and wide. It makes a great foundation plant, and it thrives in beds or woodlands. The flowers begin to develop in winter, and the bright-red buds make a brilliant display in spring. By late May the pale-pink flowers begin to open, and the contrast between red and white is gorgeous, and a highlight of the season. The glossy evergreen foliage is attractive all year round, and it has a unique wavy or twisted look to the leaves. In the right soil this plant is easy to grow, and a great addition to any garden.
The Carol Mountain Laurel grows in similar conditions to rhododendrons, azaleas, and other acid-loving plants. The soil should have a pH of 6.0 or less, and be rich, moist and well-drained. Full sun or partial shade is ideal, or dappled shade beneath deciduous trees. This plant is hardy in sheltered spots in zone 5, and grows well almost everywhere, right into zone 9. Pests and diseases are rare, and no pruning or special attention is needed.
If you can grow rhododendrons in your garden, or your neighbors do, then you can easily grow mountain laurel too. These gorgeous native plants were once overlooked as garden plants, but no more. Today they beauty is appreciated, and they are appearing much more in gardens, although they are still relatively rare. Don’t miss out on these beautiful flowering shrubs, that are attractive for so long, with appealing buds even before the flowers emerge. One of the most beautiful is the Carol Mountain Laurel, a great addition to your garden, that you will simply love.
The Carol Mountain Laurel is an evergreen shrub, with a dense, branching habit, that will form a round, mounding plant. In time it will grow over 6 feet tall and wide, and often considerably larger, so allow room for its final development. The branches are covered with a reddish, fibrous bark, and older plants developed an attractive, gnarled base, although this plant remains bushy to the ground for many years. The evergreen foliage is thick, leathery, glossy and dark green, and leaves are oval and about 3 inches long. They have a fascinated twisted form, caused by wavy edges along the leaves, giving this plant a lively and unique look. New shoots in spring are reddish, adding a touch of color at that time.
The flower buds of the Carol Mountain Laurel develop very early, over the winter, at the ends of stems grown during the previous year. It is important not to trim this plant, as this will remove the flowers. The buds are at first a reddish shoot, which expands into a very attractive cluster of bright-red balls, with curious fluted sides, by early spring. These clusters are soon over 6 inches across, and they make a lovely display all through spring. More is to come though, because in late May or early June the flowers open, turning that bright red bud into an open cup of the palest blush pink, fading to near-white. The contrast between the pale, inch-wide flowers and the bright red buds is very decorative. The unique flowers have pronounced sides, looking like a tiny, 5-sided cup. You can expect 3 to 4 months of interest and color from this plant, from the developing buds and flowers, which is remarkable.
With its long period of color, and its attractive foliage for the rest of the year, the Carol Mountain Laurel is very suitable for high-profile areas of your garden, such as around your home and in important beds. Its size works well for the middle or back of shrub beds, and it is lovely along a woodland walk too. It grows well in dappled shade, beside water, and on banks and slopes as well.
The Carol Mountain Laurel grows in a wide range of light conditions. In cooler zones it can be grown in full sun if the soil is moist. In warmer areas afternoon shade is excellent. It will also grow in full shade too, if it is bright, especially beneath deciduous trees, which allows the plants more light in winter. It is hardy from zone 5, where it should be protected from harsh winds, all the way into zone 9. It does have some needs for soil, but these are not extreme. It does best in acidic soils, with a pH below 6.0. The soil should be well-drained, so richer sandy soils are ideal, and this plant does not like heavy clay. If you do have acidic clay soil, plant on a raised mound, and incorporate lots of organic material into the soil. Cool, rich soils are ideal, so add materials like rotted leaves, lime-free compost, or peat moss, when planting, and also each spring as mulch. This will conserve moisture too, as although this bush has some drought tolerance when well-established, it always does better with regular watering as needed. Pests or diseases are rare, and no pruning is necessary. Remove the flower heads once blooming is over, as the seed-pods are not very attractive, and removing them early will encourage better flowering the following year.
The mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia, grows wild across most of the east, from southern Maine all the way through New England and the Carolinas into Florida. It also grows west to Indiana and Louisiana. Wild bushes can grow to 15 feet tall, and even into 30-foot trees. They grow on slopes and in the forests of mountain areas. Gardeners didn’t grow this plant much until a plant breeder at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven took an interest in them. Richard A. Jaynes started breeding mountain laurels in 1961 and he created many wonderful selections and hybrids. In 1967 he crossed together two of his best seedlings, and among them was a very attractive plant. He picked it out as special in 1975, and then grew it for another 10 years, testing it, before introducing it to nurseries in 1986. Called ‘Carol’, this terrific bush is a top favorite, and always a big seller. Order now, while we can still fulfill your order.