Carolina Cherry Laurel (Prunus Caroliniana): Leaves, Flowers, Berries (Pictures) – Identification and Care Guide

The popular evergreen shrub Carolina cherry laurel is a great hedge and privacy screen option. The plant’s lovely densely growing leaves and spectacular blooms are the plant’s greatest assets. Shiny green lance-shaped leaves, lovely white blooms, and black berries identify Carolina cherry laurel plants in the fall. The leaves and blossoms have a lovely fragrance.

In the garden landscape, Carolina cherry laurel has a number of uses. Nonetheless, this thick plant is valued as an evergreen privacy screen, living screen, and windbreak by most gardeners. A Carolina cherry laurel can also be used as a foundation planting, border shrub, or specimen plant.

The low-maintenance features of this cherry laurel variety are another reason why it is so popular. A hardy plant that can tolerate full sun to partial shade, the Carolina cherry laurel is a popular choice. Even in full shade, it grows just fine. Most soils and conditions are tolerable by the plant. To keep an informal evergreen hedge in your front or backyard, all you need is some light pruning once a year.

The cultivation of a Carolina cherry laurel hedge plant in your yard is covered in this article. This lovely plant may be identified by descriptions and images of laurel leaves, flowers, and berries.

About Carolina Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana)

The wild shrub Carolina Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana) belongs to the Prunus genus and the Rosaceae evergreen family. The hedge plant grows to be 15 to 20 feet (4.5–6 meters) tall. This cherry laurel cultivar develops quickly and has a solid, pyramidal to oval form. It thrives in most landscapes because it grows easily in most soils.

The shrub’s leaves have a unique shape, which is why the name cherry laurel is used. The unrelated bay laurel plant (Laurus nobilis) leaves have a pointed, leathery appearance similar to laurel leaves. Carolina cherry laurel leaves, on the other hand, are poisonous, unlike the aromatic bay leaves. It’s dangerous to mix them up.

Similarly, avoid eating the black berries on the cherry laurel shrub. While tiny berry-like drupes seem to be little cherries, they contain deadly chemicals as well. As a result, it is crucial to make sure pets and children don’t eat the leaves or berries if you grow a Carolina cherry laurel in your garden.

The Carolina cherry laurel isn’t as hardy as the cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) or skip laurel (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis’). As a result, only USDA zones 7 through 9 are appropriate for growing the shrub as a hedge, foundation plant, or border. Yet, in southern states and Florida, this makes the bushy shrub popular for hedges.

The Carolina cherry laurel, like other Prunus species, has fast development. In ideal circumstances, you can expect the shrub to grow one to two feet (30 – 60 cm) each year. To promote fast development, simply keep the soil moist and well-drained. Carolina cherry laurel, on the other hand, is a drought-tolerant evergreen plant that requires only a little care.

Carolina Cherry Laurel Hedge

A Carolina cherry laurel plant is ideal for creating a beautiful privacy screen, hedge, living fence, or windbreak. It’s also perfect for hedges. The dense shrub covers your landscape with year-round color. Your home will be enhanced by flowers in the spring, berries in the autumn, and evergreen leaves.

As an evergreen hedgerow, Carolina cherry laurel is a low-maintenance hedge plant that requires little upkeep. Pruning once a year in the spring or summer will ensure that the hedge stays neat and thrives, while also maintaining its shape. Cherry laurel, in general, thrives at a height of 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters).

Carolina Cherry Laurel Leaves

The broadleaf evergreen leaves on the Carolina cherry laurel shrub have an oblong, elliptical form and pointed tips, and are recognized as such by experts. The edges of the leaves are normally smooth, however they may be serrated at times. The shrub’s thick, leathery, glossy green leaves have a velvety touch and grow alternately on the branches in a simple pattern. Cherry laurel leaves are 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) long.

The leaves of the evergreen Carolina cherry laurel shrub have a dark green, lustrous appearance when mature. The plant is ideal for concealing privacy in your outdoor area because of its densely packed foliage. When crushed, the leaves of Carolina cherry produce a scent reminiscent to maraschino cherry or almond extract. The poisonous cherry laurel leaves, on the other hand, contain prussic acid (cyanide) and may pose severe health risks if consumed.

How to Plant Carolina Cherry Laurel Hedge

To create a laurel hedge, plant the Carolina laurel cherry bushes 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 1 meters) apart. Planting at 2 feet (60 cm) intervals will help the hedge grow faster and thicker. You may trim the shrub every year to keep its width at approximately 18″ (45 cm) to ensure a narrow laurel hedge.

Some gardeners recommend digging a trench rather than individual planting holes to make planting a laurel hedge easier. Roots should be just below the surface and the planting depth should be 12 inches (30 cm) deep. It’s a good idea to add rotting manure or compost to the soil before backfilling the planting hole.

To allow light to penetrate the foliage, trim the upper branches on a regular basis. Your lovely cherry laurel hedge will develop thick to the ground with this pruning tip. You may also encourage the plant to spread out by cutting a few inches off the branch ends.

Carolina Cherry Laurel Fruit 

The Carolina laurel cherry fruit looks like little black oval cherries with smooth skin. It is poisonous to people but edible to birds. The cherry laurel black fruit is a fleshy drupe with a large stone (pith) in the center, rather than clusters of berries. Late summer or early autumn brings the emergence of the berries, which turn green to reddish-purple before black.

The diameter of black Carolina cherry laurel berries is 0.5 inch (1.3 cm). The berries, like other parts of the shrub, are poisonous and should be avoided. The Maraschino cherry fragrance of the sweet berries, on the other hand, attracts birds and animals. During the winter, the berries stay on the shrub.

Carolina Cherry Laurel Flowers

Because of their clusters of cylindrical attractive white blooms, carolina cherry laurel shrubs are easy to identify in early spring. Cylindrical racemes (clusters) of tiny white four or five-petalled blooms grow to be 2″ to 3″ (5 – 7.5 cm) long. In the spring, pollinators are drawn to the cherry laurel flowers, which have a lovely fragrance and bloom amid the leaves.

How to Identify Carolina Cherry Laurel 

The aromatic pointed green leaves, cylindrical white flowers, and thick growth are all characteristics of the Carolina cherry laurel. Lance-shaped leathery leaves with a glossy sheen are seen on this plant. White blooms emit a lovely fragrance when in bloom in the spring. Green drupes form clusters after blooming and turn black by late autumn.

How to Use Carolina Cherry Laurel in the Landscape

In the south, such as Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, and California, Carolina cherry laurel is a versatile evergreen shrub with multiple uses in landscapes. It’s most often employed as an evergreen hedgerow, natural fence, and privacy screen. The pyramidal crown of the shrub, as well as its ability to tolerate most circumstances, makes it a great landscaping shrub.

The Carolina cherry laurel is suited for putting in the front of the home because to its pruning tolerance. You may use it as a specimen lawn tree or plant the ornamental shrub near the house foundations. The shrub’s lovely form is ideal for a entryway or container garden, and it should be planted in a sturdy container.

Planting a dwarf Carolina cherry laurel cultivar is ideal for small gardens with little space. The Prunus caroliniana ‘Compacta,’ for example, is half the size of a standard cherry laurel plant in terms of height and width. Regular pruning might be eliminated to keep the garden’s form, thus reducing job in the garden.

How to Plant Carolina Cherry Laurel

Most states with warm climates are ideal for Carolina cherry laurel. The ideal condition for planting a cherry laurel is that the land isn’t retaining water. In urban and coastal areas, you can grow the evergreen hedge. To plant the shrub, dig a hole 1.5 times the diameter of the root ball.

The cherry laurel should be able to grow at the same height as the container since the hole depth allows it. Fill the hole back with loamy compost and place the rooted nursery plant in there. To eliminate any air pockets, firm the earth with the spade as you go.

Trim off any roots surrounding the root ball of a nursery plant when planting it in a container. A weak Carolina cherry laurel that is susceptible to diseases may occur if this is not done.

How to Care for Carolina Cherry Laurel

The Carolina variety, like other cherry laurel plants, is self-sufficient. It should survive in your yard as long as the earth isn’t soggy and it’s protected from freezing temperatures. Yet, in order for the cherry laurel to do its best, there are a few care methods.

Where to Plant Carolina Cherry Laurel

Wherever it gets enough sunlight, plant Carolina cherry laurel. A cherry laurel, on the other hand, will perform adequately in partial shade, so you don’t have to be too concerned. As a result, its growth will be unaffected by even growing in the shadows.

The laurel plant should ideally receive at least four hours of sunlight every day. Not planting the Carolina cherry laurel where it will receive prolonged soil saturation is another important care factor. Therefore, to improve drainage in your clay soil garden, add peat moss or organic matter.

How to Water Carolina Cherry Laurel

The Carolina cherry laurel is drought-tolerant once it has established, and it requires minimal to no additional watering. Nevertheless, during hot, dry summers, you may need to water the area frequently enough. You should not water a cherry laurel so often that the soil is constantly wet, though.

Top tip when growing Carolina cherry laurel: Organic mulch may help maintain the soil moist, provide nutrients for tough plants, and keep weeds at bay.

How to Fertilize Carolina Cherry Laurel

To encourage a Carolina cherry laurel bush to grow, fertilization is not required. Most soil types are suitable for the easy-care shrub. In poor soil, nutrient-deficient soil, and rocky soil, however, the cherry laurel will struggle. As a result, in these situations, applying a balanced fertilizer to evergreen trees is beneficial.

With a 15-15-15 NPK rating, apply a slow-release tree fertilizer. In the spring, apply the granules to the drip line and water the area well. In the spring and late summer, you can alternatively apply a soluble balanced fertilizer to encourage growth.

Pruning Carolina Cherry Laurel 

Once the plant has finished blooming, cut approximately one-third of the upper branches from a Carolina cherry laurel. To encourage development, this pruning method allows light to enter the leaves and lower limbs. Any suckers that emerge from the main stem should be removed as well. Trim any diseased, decaying, or dead branches on this ornamental shrub, as with most.

Every spring for the first eight to ten years, it is essential to trim the Carolina cherry laurel. The thick shrub develops forceful lateral branches by keeping the upper half of the hedge thinner. To keep the hedge shape, all you have to do is trim the glossy, leathery leaves.

How to Propagate Carolina Cherry Laurel

Cutting stem cuttings from springtime Carolina cherry laurel plants. Next, remove 6″ (15 cm) of healthy stem with sharp, sterile pruning shears. Next, place the stems in separate pots containing a moist potting medium and dip the cut end in a rooting hormone.

Put the containers in a sheltered, but sunny part of your garden after planting the cut stems. To keep the soil moist, water it periodically. For roots to establish themselves in the pot, it takes approximately a year. In the spring of the following year, ground-rooted cherry laurel cuttings will be ready to plant.

Pests Affecting Carolina Cherry Laurel Growth

When they get the correct care, Carolina cherry laurel bushes are typically pest and disease resistant. Spider mites, caterpillars, aphids, vine weevils, scale insects, and whitefly are among the pests that attack cherry laurel trees. In fact, the damage caused by bugs, insects, and mites to an established cherry laurel hedge is usually minor. To get rid of aphids or whiteflies that are harming your plant, use the garden hose. The pests should be dislodged by a powerful wave of water.

Caterpillars, like other garden creatures, may eat the leaves and cause issues. The best approach is to manually remove caterpillars and toss them into soapwater if you notice them acting. You can apply sticky horticultural tape as a caterpillar prevention method.

Scale insects and weevils, for example, are difficult to detect. The bad news is that they don’t usually have a negative impact on a Carolina cherry laurel tree.

Diseases Affecting Carolina Cherry Laurel Growth

The hardy shrubs of Carolina cherry laurel are resistant to a variety of diseases. Powdery mildew, cherry laurel shot hole, and root rot are all symptoms of excessive humidity or overwatering on laurel bushes. How do you know if your Carolina cherry laurel bushes have been afflicted by plant diseases? Here are some indicators to watch for. White patches on the leaves of cherry laurel powdery mildew resemble flour dusted patches.

While this fungal foliar infestation is innocuous, it mars the look of your hedge. Cut back the branches to promote air circulation to prevent powdery mildew. There are additional solutions for leaf mildew issues you may investigate. The roots of the cherry laurel plant get Cherry laurel root rot, which causes the leaves to decay yellow, brown, and finally black. Make sure that water drains well from the shrubs and avoid soggy soil by protecting roots on a cherry laurel.

Fungal infections may occur in warm, humid conditions, causing Carolina cherry laurel to shoot holes. Brown spots on the leaves progress to holes after a few weeks of growth. The majority of cherry laurels recover nicely, and the plant is rarely harmed.

Is Carolina Cherry Laurel Toxic?

Toxic chemicals called cyanogenic glycosides are found in Carolina cherry laurel, and they should not be consumed by humans or animals. As a result, you should not eat the leaves or black berries of any cherry laurel varieties, such as Prunus caroliniana.

Other Varieties of Cherry Laurel

If you have a small garden or would like to cultivate low-growing cherry laurel bushes in your front or backyards, this is the perfect solution. In that scenario, there are several Prunus caroliniana cultivars to choose from.

Prunus caroliniana ‘Compacta’ —This dwarf cherry laurel cultivar thrives in heat, salty air, and drought and grows to be 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters) tall. The small plant has densely packed branches that give it a lovely look.

Prunus caroliniana ‘Cherry Ruffles’ — The wavy or ruffled leaves give the plants a distinctive appearance, which is the standout feature of Cherry Ruffles. The leaves become glossy green as new foliage emerges yellow or bronze.

Prunus caroliniana ‘Monus’ —This spectacular evergreen cherry laurel cultivar grows 8 to 10 feet (2.4 to 3 meters) tall and is known as ‘Bright N tight. It features clusters of gorgeous white blooms and silvery-green leaves.

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