Cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana) is a plant that is native to the United States. Cherry laurel is a member of the rose family. It has many common names such as wild peach, Carolina cherry and mock orange. Cherry laurel thrives well in U.S. hardiness zones 7 to 11. This is a fast-growing evergreen shrub with a deep root system. It is commonly found in urban and suburban settings as part of the landscape.
Cherry laurel plants range from South Carolina to Texas. Coastal areas of Southern California also contain cherry laurel. Cherry laurel requires well-drained soil and a sunny location to thrive. It does not grow well in areas that suffer from high temperatures and drought.
Cherry laurel has bright green, glossy leaves. It produces small white flowers in the spring. They produce a blue-black fruit in summer. Mature shrubs have a very dark, almost black, trunk. The branches spread and grow quickly, creating a dense tree-like shrub. Cherry laurel will grow to heights between 15 to 40 feet. The branches will spread from 10 to 35 feet.
Care and Planting
Cherry laurel needs to be planted in slightly acidic soil. These do not do well as container plants because they are susceptible to root rot if left in standing water. They require weekly watering, and more frequent waterings during high temperatures. Fertilize in the spring with a standard tree fertilizer. To keep a neat appearance prune cherry laurel shrubs regularly. In the spring treat with antibacterial and anti-fungal sprays to prevent leaf spot, fire blight and stem canker.
Cherry laurel has several uses. It can be pruned and used as an ornamental addition to a garden. Cherry laurel is used as a noise barrier because of its dense foliage. The heavy foliage also lends itself to privacy hedges. Cherry laurel has been used as part of reclamation projects. Reclamation is the process of reclaiming land after natural disasters or desalinization (salt removal).
Cherry laurel plants are highly toxic. Wild birds will eat the fruits and remain unaffected. The seeds and leaves contain cyanide. Do not plant where grazing animals can come into contact and consume these leaves. Warn children not to eat the berries from these plants.
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