Mountain Laurel Cold Hardiness: How To Care For Mountain Laurels In Winter

mountain laurel winter
mountain laurel winter
(Image credit: Joshua Neeriemer)

Mountain laurels (Kalmia latifolia) are shrubs that grow in the wild in the eastern half of the country. As native plants, these plants do not require coddling in your garden. However, if you live in an area with harsh weather, you may want to consider winter protection for mountain laurels. If you are wondering about mountain laurel cold hardiness or how to care for mountain laurels in winter, this article will help.

About Mountain Laurel Cold Hardiness

Mountain laurels are native broadleaf evergreen shrubs beloved by gardeners for their vivid spring flowers. The foliage is also attractive and the shrubs look beautiful in borders or natural gardens. As native shrubs, mountain laurels are low-maintenance in the garden and know how to take care of themselves. Mountain laurel cold hardiness allow these shrubs to thrive in the summers and winters of USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Yet, occasionally, mountain laurels in winter have problems. Those at the northern limits of mountain laurel cold hardiness can develop leaf scorch. This happens when the ground is frozen and the shrubs cannot get water from the frozen ground. At the same time, they are losing water from wind-exposed leaves. Another type of mountain laurel winter injury is sunscald. Mountain laurels in winter can develop burned looking leaves. This sun scalding happens when the sunlight bounces off the snow and ice.

Mountain Laurel Winter Care

You can prevent mountain laurel winter injury with just a little effort. First, be sure the plants are as healthy as possible by planting them in a site with some shade and some sun in well-draining, acidic soil. In addition, provide a little irrigation during dry periods to prevent water stress. Mulching the ground around the roots offers summer and winter protection for mountain laurel. For mountain laurel winter care, add a thick layer of straw mulch or chopped leaves as the weather turns icy. This will prevent extreme soil temperature fluctuations that can damage the shrubs. Beyond that, the best mountain laurel winter care involves protecting the plants from both wind and bright winter sun. If your plants are sited in an area without shelter from wind and winter sun, build a burlap windscreen to protect it. You can also spray your mountain laurel’s leaves with an anti-transpirant spray before the weather drops into negative territory. This helps to keep down moisture loss.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.