Skip laurel, also known as Schipka cherry laurel or Schipka, is a popular hedge plant that belongs to the Prunus laurocerasus family. It is an upright evergreen shrub that has glossy, pointed green leaves, fragrant white flowers, and blackish-purple berries. This fast-growing shrub is well-suited to almost any soil type and thrives in full sun to partial shade.
Many people choose skip laurels for building a lush and dense barrier hedge in their front or backyard. Once established, these shrubs require little maintenance other than occasional trimming to maintain their lush green color and shape. This comprehensive guide provides all the information you need to grow skip laurel in your yard, from start to finish. You’ll learn about the fragrant white blossoms and drought-tolerant properties of this lovely plant, as well as some inspiration for where to place it in your garden.
What is Skip Laurel (Schip Laurel)
Skip laurel, scientifically known as Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis’, is a compact cherry laurel cultivar that produces fewer leaves than other varieties of laurel. This beautiful evergreen plant has a rounded crown and a natural spreading vase shape, typically growing up to 10-15 feet (3 meters) tall and 7 feet (2.1 meters) wide.
It’s important not to confuse skip laurel with other types of laurels, which belong to the edible herbaceous shrub family called Lauraceae, such as bay laurel (Laurus nobilis). Unlike these related species, skip laurel belongs to the inedible Rosaceae family, along with cherry laurels and English laurels.
Skip laurels are easy to maintain, reaching a height of 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters). The small, narrow leaves are easy to trim, and the resulting foliage looks neater than a cherry laurel hedge. The shrub also adds year-round visual interest with its shiny green leaves, showy white flowers, and clusters of black berries. Cold-hardy laurel shrubs and hedges can be grown in USDA zones 5 through 9.
Skip Laurel Vs. Cherry Laurel (English Laurel)
When it comes to cherry laurel, the drop laurel stands out for its smaller leaf and shrub size. The scientific name for cherry laurel is Prunus laurocerasus, and the drop laurel variety is smaller than other types of cherry laurel. Compared to cherry laurel, skip laurel has pointed, lance-shaped leaves that are smaller in size. Trimming the leaves of the compact Schip laurel bush creates a neat and tidy appearance.
Skip Laurel Hedge
Forget laurel bushes are an excellent choice for creating privacy screens because they are low-maintenance and retain their green color all year round. These shrubs have shiny, clean leaves that are perfect for screening your yard or garden. Additionally, skip laurels are great for creating hedges for privacy since they are short and have dense foliage.
Skip laurels thrive in full sun and can also tolerate shade. They have a moderate to rapid growth rate and a spreading vase shape, making them capable of withstanding poor weather, full sun, and drought. Because of these qualities, skip laurel is one of the most popular choices for hedges.
How to Plant Skip Laurel Hedge
If you’re looking to create a laurel hedge, it’s best to plant skip laurel bushes 2 to 3 feet (0.6 m) apart. To achieve a denser, wider hedge, plant the skip laurel bushes in a staggered pattern, with a spacing of 6 feet (1.8 m) between rows and 3 feet (1 m) from the first row. When planting a skip laurel hedge, dig a trench where you want the natural barrier to be.
Make sure that the rooted shrub can grow at the same height in the container as it was in when it was planted. Fill the hole or trench with soil that has been amended with loam-based compost, then plant the laurel shrubs 2 feet (0.6 meters) apart. To ensure the stability of the shrubs, compact the soil to eliminate any air pockets. Finally, water the area thoroughly after filling the hole.
Skip Laurel Leaves
Leathery, glossy green, lanceolate blades with serration near the pointed apex are recognized on a skip laurel evergreen shrub’s leaves. The 4″ (10 cm) long petioles to tip and 2″ (5 cm) wide widest point measure the pointed, long dark green leaves.
Skip Laurel Flowers
The skip laurel shrub is renowned for its stunning clusters of white flowers, known as racemes. In the spring, these highly aromatic cylindrical clusters of white flowers bloom, filling gardens with both color and fragrance. The skip laurel racemes grow upward and measure approximately 4″ (10 cm) in length.
Each blossom cluster comprises numerous small white flowers, making the laurel bushes appear almost white when in bloom due to the sheer number of blooms. The fuzzy white blossoms resemble a bottle brush. Skip laurel hedge begins to flower in early spring and continues to bloom throughout the summer.
Skip Laurel Fruit
After the skip laurel plant has finished blooming in the summer, clusters of blackish-purple berry-like drupes emerge. These small, round fruits resemble tiny cherries and each contain a solitary seed. The berries are dark and round, with a diameter of around 0.4″ (1 cm), and ripen in late summer and early autumn.
How to Identify Skip Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis’)
The leaves, flowers, and fruit of the laurel are all used to identify it. The vase-shaped growth habit of the laurel shrub stays on the plant all year and features noticeable glossy leaves. White flower clusters bloom in early spring, with dark purple or black berries appearing in the autumn.
How to Use Skip Laurel (Schip Laurel) in Your Landscape
Skip laurel is a popular hedge plant that can be used for creating a privacy screen or natural fence, but it has many other uses in the garden as well. This flowering shrub is versatile and can be shaped into an upright or rounded shrub, making it perfect for any landscape. You can leave the leaves untrimmed or trim them for a more casual effect.
In a lawn or mixed flower bed, skip laurel can be trained to develop into a small tree. When pruned to maintain its height, it can also serve as an ideal foundation plant. Due to its tall, columnar habit, skip laurel can be planted as an accent at the corner of a home. There are many ways to incorporate skip laurel into your garden design.
How to Plant Skip Laurel
When planting a skip laurel shrub, it’s important to dig a hole that is three times the size of the root ball and as deep as the container. Fill the hole with native soil that has been supplemented with compost and place the shrub in the center of the hole. Make sure to remove any air pockets and water the ground thoroughly by pressing it firmly.
Where to Plant Skip Laurel
Skip laurel shrubs can be planted in full sun or partial shade. While planting them in a sunny area of your garden can lead to optimal growth, skip laurels are adaptable to all lighting conditions and can perform well in both sun and shade. Direct sunlight won’t cause the leaves to yellow, and shade won’t cause the shrubs to deteriorate.
One of the great advantages of skip laurel is its ability to tolerate harsh weather conditions. However, it’s important to ensure that the planting site has good drainage before placing the shrubs. Skip laurels can be grown in most types of soil, including clay, loamy, sandy, and rocky soil. They are also able to thrive in coastal areas and can tolerate urban pollution.
Growing Skip Laurel in Pots
Forget-about-laurel is an excellent plant for container gardening. When choosing a container, it’s important to select a sturdy pot that is capable of supporting the plant’s weight. Ensure that the container has drainage holes to prevent waterlogged soil. For proper drainage, fill the pot halfway with a loose, organic-rich potting soil that has been supplemented with perlite. Plant the skip laurel so that its roots are just below the soil surface and fill the remaining soil in the pot until it reaches 2 inches from the rim.
To care for a skip laurel that is growing in a container, place it in full sun or partial shade. Only water the shrub when the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil is dry, and then water the plant until the bottom is thoroughly saturated. In the spring, you may apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to the shrub.
Skip Laurel Growth Rate
Skip laurel has a moderate to fast growth rate, typically growing at a rate of around 24 inches (60 cm) per year. If left to develop without pruning, skip laurel bushes can reach a height of 10 to 15 feet (3 m – 4.5 m), but they may grow even taller. Regular pruning can help maintain the height of skip laurel bushes, with a range of 2 to 6 feet (0.6 to 1.8 meters) being easily achievable through pruning.
Skip Laurel Care Guide — How to Grow Schip Laurel
The hardy evergreen shrub skip laurel has minimal upkeep requirements. If you forget about them, cherry laurels will grow well. A luscious shrub or privacy hedge in your front or backyard, however, can be achieved with proper care. Now, let’s take a closer look at how to grow a skip cherry laurel in your yard.
How to Water Skip Laurel Shrubs
For an established skip cherry laurel bush, watering once a week is necessary to keep the ground moist. Although laurels are drought-tolerant and can go without water for a few weeks, in extreme heat, you may need to water the soil every day or more frequently to ensure healthy growth. Newly planted skip laurel plants require regular watering. For the first week after planting, the soil will need to be watered every day. Gradually reduce the frequency to once a week.
It’s important to avoid overwatering skip laurel shrubs as they don’t appreciate soggy soil. Therefore, make sure to allow the top layer of soil to dry out before watering. Adding a layer of mulch can help keep the soil moist and provide nutrients throughout the growing season.
Fertilizing Skip Laurel Plants
For skip laurel shrubs, a periodic application of fertilizer for evergreen trees and hedges is recommended. During the spring season, a slow-release fertilizer with a 15-15-15 NPK ratio can be used to increase the nutrient level and promote growth. Alternatively, organic compost or decomposing manure can be used for the same purpose.
The best times to fertilize the soil are during the spring and late summer seasons. Overfertilizing skip laurel shrubs should be avoided, as it can lead to undesirable results. It’s also important to avoid adding fertilizer after August, as this can encourage new growth that may not survive the winter.
When and How to Prune Skip Laurel
Skip laurel can be pruned to maintain its height and create an attractive formal or informal hedge. Heavy pruning can be done at any time of the year for skip cherry laurels. However, it’s generally best to trim branches in the spring once the hedge has bloomed.
To promote dense foliage growth, trim the branches of young plants on a skip laurel hedge every couple of weeks. It’s also important to keep the upper branches trimmed back to allow adequate light to reach the lower limbs, resulting in a hedge with thick leaves at ground level.
To keep a skip laurel hedge in good condition, prune the branches twice a year. The first pruning should be done in early spring, followed by another in the summer. Instead of using a hedge trimmer to cut foliage, individual branches should be trimmed. It’s also important to maintain the top of the hedge thin to prevent the lower foliage from becoming sparse.
Skip Laurel Propagation
The ideal way to propagate skip cherry laurel shrubs is through stem cuttings. During the winter, take a 5″ to 6″ (13 to 15 cm) long cutting of new growth, ensuring that it is cut directly at the main stem with sharp pruners. Remove all lower leaves except for three or four at the top.
Strip off some of the bark on the cut end, then add a layer of moist potting soil to a pot. Create a hole in the center and pour an inch of sand into it. Finally, press the soil around the hole until it is approximately 4 inches (10 cm) deep. To root a skip laurel cutting, keep the pot in a sunny, sheltered location and water just enough to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Once there is no chance of frost, the container can be moved to a sunny location. After a year, the cutting can be transplanted to your garden.
Pests Affecting Skip Laurel Shrubs
Diseases Affecting Skip Laurel Growth
The skip laurel is a hardy evergreen tree that can withstand diseases and neglect. However, overwatering and excessive humidity can lead to various issues, such as powdery mildew, root rot, and cherry laurel shot hole.
To prevent skip cherry laurel root rot, it’s crucial to ensure proper water drainage. Avoid allowing the soil to become too moist or soggy. In general, a little bit of drought is better for the health of your lush hedge than “wet feet.”
Powdery mildew is a common fungal foliar disease that affects skip laurel leaves, resulting in a white powder-like appearance. This benign illness thrives in cool and damp conditions. Pruning the bushes to increase airflow beneath the leaves can help prevent powdery mildew.
Fungal infections, which cause brown patches and holes on skip laurel leaves, are usually prevalent in warm and humid weather. Cherry laurel shot hole can be controlled by pruning affected branches and foliage.
Is Skip Laurel Toxic?
The skip cherry laurel plant is poisonous to humans and animals if consumed. It is crucial to keep pets and children away from the leaves and black berries of Prunus laurocerasus varieties, including ‘Schipkaensis,’ to avoid any potential health hazards.