Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Prune Cherry Laurel

By Julie Christensen ; Updated September 21, 2017
Cherry Laurel's glossy green leaves are evergreen.
laurel leaf isolated image by Albo from Fotolia.com

Hardy between zones 7 and 10, Cherry Laurel (Prunus Caroliniana) grows wild in many parts of the southern United States and is used as a versatile landscaping plant. Left alone, the plant develops a mounding form between 10 to 20 feet tall. Shear it annually for a dense, evergreen hedge, or prune to one strong trunk to develop a tree. The tree's white blossoms and shiny, green foliage make it an appealing choice. Grow the plant next to a patio, though, as hundreds of seedlings sprout up in grassy areas due to the plant's tendency to drop seeds.

Shear the tips off cherry laurels each spring to a uniform height if you want to grow Cherry Laurel as a hedge. Maintain your hedge with frequent shearing throughout the growing season.

Cut out any dead wood with your hand pruners in summer or early fall. Cherry laurel is prone to canker, especially if pruned during wet winters and springs. Instead, prune mid- to late summer. Prune branches that are rubbing against each other or growing vertically. Cherry laurel, grown in its natural, rounded form, requires little pruning.

Cut back all branches except for one strong trunk if you want to grow Cherry Laurel as a tree. Allow lateral branches to grow from this trunk, but remove any suckers (small, vegetative growth that sprouts vertically from lateral branches).


Things You Will Need

  • Shears
  • Hand pruners
  • Pruning saw


  • Cut back dead branches to the ground or to healthy wood (green inside). Always make cuts 1/4 inch above an outward-facing bud. Buds are the small triangular growths on branches where new shoots will appear. Make the cut at a 30-degree angle so moisture can drain off the cut.
  • Cherry laurel fruit and leaves are toxic. Watch pets and children around this plant.

About the Author


Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."