Mountain laurel shrubs are eastern North American natives with beautiful, unique, cup-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring and summer in shades of white to pink. They are usually used as landscape plants and can often be seen blooming in dappled shade under trees and taller shrubs. Can you grow mountain laurel in a pot though? Keep reading to learn more about caring for mountain laurel in containers.
How to Grow a Potted Mountain Laurel
Can you grow mountain laurel in a pot? The short answer is, yes. Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a large shrub that can reach as much as 20 feet (6 m.) in height. There are dwarf varieties available, however, that are much more suited to container life. “Minuet” is one such variety, a very small shrub that reaches only 3 feet (1 m.) in height and breadth and produces pink flowers with a bright red ring through the middle. “Tinkerbell” is another excellent dwarf variety that grows to only 3 feet (1 m.) tall and wide and produces vibrant pink flowers. These and other dwarf varieties are usually compact enough to live happily for years in large containers.
Caring for Container Grown Mountain Laurels
Potted mountain laurel plants should be treated more or less the same as their cousins in the garden. It’s a common misconception that mountain laurels like deep shade because they tend to grow in the wild under leafy canopies. While it’s true that they will tolerate shade, they actually perform best in dappled to partial sunlight, where they will produce the most blooms. They are not drought tolerant and require regular watering, especially during periods of drought. Remember that container plants always dry out more quickly than plants in the ground. Most mountain laurels are hardy down to USDA zone 5, but container plants are much less resistant to cold. If you live in zone 7 or below, you should provide winter protection by moving your container grown mountain laurels to an unheated garage or shed, or submerging their pots in the ground for the winter.
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The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.
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