How to Plant and Grow Mountain Laurel

A showy shrub native to eastern North America, from southern Maine to Louisiana and northern Florida, 

mountain laurel is closely related to azaleas and rhododendrons. It is the most prolific species in the Kalmia genus, forming dense thickets in wooded areas and woodland margins, in meadows,  

and on mountain slopes. It grows in a large, rounded, dense mound, sometimes as a small tree 

The dark green foliage remains on the plant all year. Old branches are often contorted, cracked, or crooked. 

In late spring or early summer depending on the region, it bears clusters of flowers in white, pink,  

and red. The individual florets are shaped like inverted parasols with markings ranging in color from cinnamon, to scarlet, rose, or burgundy. 

Mountain laurel has been a popular ornamental since the early 18th century. 

It made its way to England and was bred there before being reintroduced to the United States. Today there are more than 75 cultivars of mountain laurel. 

A location in dappled sun or partial shade is best, as the shrub thrives in moist, acidic soil—in sunny locations, the soil dries out faster. 

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