The laurel plant is a medium-sized broad-leaf evergreen shrub native to the eastern areas of the United States. Plants grow 5 to 15 feet tall with a spread of 5 to 15 feet wide. Mountain laurel shrubs are covered with delicate pink or white blooms in late spring and early summer. Plant a laurel as a specimen shrub in the landscape, or add it to a shrub bed. Mountain laurels require only minimal care to flourish and bloom.
Plant mountain laurel in light shade and slightly acidic, loamy well-draining soil. Dig a hole that is twice as wide and as deep as the root ball of your laurel shrub. Break up the soil in the bottom of the planting hole with the end of the shovel.
Unwrap the root ball, or slide it out of the nursery pot. Place the laurel shrub into the hole with the base of the stem level with the soil line. Lift the shrub from underneath the root ball rather than from the stem to avoid damaging the plant.
Back fill the hole with soil and press it down around the roots. Continue until the hole is filled in and the soil is level under the laurel shrub.
Soak the area until the soil is damp at least 12 inches deep or to the bottom of the planting hole. Water once or twice a week when the top 3 to 4 inches of soil feels dry to the touch for the first two to three months to keep the soil damp around the roots. Once established, laurels are drought-tolerant and need watering only in very dry weather.
Spread a 4-inch layer of mulch over the area around the laurel shrub. Use wood chips, seasoned manure, chopped leaves, leaf mold, pine needles, sawdust or a similar organic material. Spread the mulch layer in a circle beginning 6 inches away from the base of the stem and extending out 1 foot past the outermost branches.
Re-apply the mulch layer each spring to keep a total of 4 inches of mulch around the laurel shrub. As the mulch breaks down, it will add organic matter and nutrients to the soil.
Fertilize once a year in the spring using a fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants like rhododendrons and azaleas. Use the instructions on the back of the package for amount and application method.
Prune in the spring to remove dead branches and any branches that were damaged or broken over winter. Laurels do not need additional pruning as they will grow naturally into a pleasing shape. Remove the flowers as soon as they fade on the bush to increase the intensity of the next year's blooms.