Mountain Laurel?

buford(7 NE GA)May 29, 2007

We are spending a few days at Biltmore and the mountain laurel is in bloom. We want to add some to our hill that has pine trees on it. The pines are about 3 years old and just starting to make the hill shady. I thought there was a thread about mountain laurel on here somewhere but I can't find it.

Any recommendations on types, where to buy, how to plant, etc would be appreciated.

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They might be hard to find this time of year. I was looking for some in April at Buck Jones and they said they would not be getting any more this spring. They do stock them regularly there in the spring and usually have several cultivars in 3 gallon pots.

The most recent thread I remember was the one in which I was bragging about my 'Elf' one. It was just covered in blooms this year.

It's a wonderful native shrub - beautiful, shiny evergreen leaves and gorgeous flowers too. Even the bark is pretty, but it has to be pretty big to see it.

As for planting, they would be treated like azaleas and rhododendrons: plant in a slightly raised area with composted pine bark mixed in and plenty of mulch to keep the roots cool.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 8:47PM
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Here's a link that has a list of many of the available cultivars and some cultural recommendations.
One of the largest one's I've seen, with beautiful flowers, is located on the west side of GA20, about a mile south of the Mall of GA. May not be visible from the roadway, as there was a lot of scrub growth along there, but it received several hours of morning sun.
The woodlands present on both sides of GA20 there contain a large number of Mountain Laurel. I am growing one that I collected there several years ago.
The GA Native Plant Society still schedules rescues at that location and membership permits you to join them and dig as many plants as you can carry out of the woods! (

Here is a link that might be useful: Kalmia latifolia - Mountain Laurel

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 10:45PM
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Like buford, I didn't know you could grow mountain laurel around Atlanta. I always thought it was too warm. Nice to know I was wrong.
Speaking of too warm, I saw a blog the other day by an Atlanta landscaper who is refusing to plant native rhododendrons for her clients. She said global warming is making it too hot here to support rhododendrons, so she is making her clients substitute hollies whether they like holly or not. First case I've heard of landscapers punishing their clients for global warming.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 11:26AM
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sugarhill, that is awful! At least she could substitute Florida Anise for rhododendron. Don't we have enough hollies as it is?

There was an article in the paper about 2 weeks ago about Mountain Laurel in Vinings. A couple there had it naturally growing on their property and said how beautiful it was this year.

Does anyone else hate how the AJC rearranged the Garden articles into the Living section on Thursdays when they created a standalone Home section? I sure miss the old Home and Garden pull out.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 12:22PM
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Let me say that the landscaper who is refusing to plant native Rhodies needs to "crack the books" and really learn something about native plant material! All of the Azaleas, Native or otherwise are Rhodies. There is a Rhodie species, Rhododendron chapmanii, that is native to FL and makes a wonderful landscape plant in this area.
As far as global warming, I don't believe an increase of 1°F. is going to make a lot of difference in the growth habit of native plants, as they have survived for eons and have adapted to whatever growing conditions that have come their way. MHO

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 12:55PM
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Probably said that because they are hard to find.

razorback, Hyw 20 runs east-west so how do you find the west side of hwy 20 a mile south of the M.O.G.? The highway doesn't go there. Do you mean buford hwy? Do you mean Hwy 124? P.I. Blvd?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 3:54PM
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In some locations, GA20 runs E-W, Others it runs N-S. in the vicinity of the Mall of GA. it runs N-S. I-85,Exit 115 will take you to the Mall (North) or to Lawrenceville (South). The properties where the GNPS has permission to enter and rescue plants is SOUTH of the Mall. Have been there at least a dozen times on scheduled rescues. It was probably the most productive rescue site ever encountered in the Metro area, as I documented almost 100 different garden worthy plants there, including a rare Gentian natural hybrid and 10 species of Ferns, a bog with many hundreds of Jack-in-the-Pulpit's. Red Chokeberry, Wild Climbing Hydrangea (Decumeria), both varieties of Asarum shuttleworthii, plus Asarum arifolia, Terrestrial Orchids; Goodyera, Tipularia & Malaxis unifolia, Highbush & Lowbush Blueberries, Viburnum cassinoides, Spicebush, Sweet Shrub, Snowbell, Paw Paw, 2-3 species of Native Azalea, Black Cohosh, Carolina & Turk's Cap Lilies, a virtual carpet of Galax and the list goes on. Did I forget the Mountain Laurel? With GNPS membership and participation in plant rescues, a person can amass a treasure trove of local Native plants. You always collect some extra for the Annual GNPS plant sale, now held at Piedmont Park or take a few to the meetings at ABG, where they offer them for sale.
A dedicated and fun bunch of people, where friends are members and vice versa.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 5:55PM
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Up here in Athens I've got mountain laurels growing wild in the floodplain along the banks of my creek. They are indeed beautiful this year... well honestly they're beautiful every year! One of my favorite natives. I am hesitant to try to transplant any of them, they obviously like their roots wet and the rest of my garden is high above the floodplain. They grow so slowly... Maybe air-layering?

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 6:28PM
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Mountain Laurel can be tricky to transplant from the wild. Sometimes you can find small seedlings and move them but mostly I find partially rooted branches ... or not even partially rooted, just buried under a lot of leaves!

I have transplanted them, and found that I have more success with transferring them to a large pot and then letting them recover for 6-12 months before moving them to a permanent spot.

Observe how they grow and see if you can find a spot like that (partial shade, on a slight slope to help give them the drainage they like). If they are growing near you, chances are they can find a space to like in your garden, jennifratrix.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 9:17PM
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Rb, I'll bet I know the place where you are doing your rescue. If it's the land I'm thinking about, I remember the little old lady who lived there. She lived in a house so old it was not much more than a shack. Her children couldn't get her to move because she wasn't going to leave her land with all those native plants on it and the things her grandmother had planted when the old lady was a child. You could barely see her house for all the mountain laurel growing around it. So her children bought the land next to hers so they could live there and look after her. I hope it's her land where you are rescuing the plants because she sure did love them.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 10:23PM
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The lady you describe probably lived next door to the proposed development. The Mountain Laurel I described was likely on her property, along with a large Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) that I would admire when in bloom each year. I don't know who was the previous owner of the land where the rescues are conducted, but there is no evidence that the land was ever occupied or farmed. There are several creeks that converge on the properties, but they have only a trickle of water in them during the dry months.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 1:15AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

razor,I think you probably mean east of MOG going south towards Lawrenceville. That area gets pretty wild.

Thanks for all the suggestions. I will certainly try it. But I will also grow rhodos! I have one doing quite nicely and I'm sure with enough shade others will as well.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 10:44PM
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We were at Biltmore today! A lot of the nurseries along US 64 (we took the scenic route home) had laurel and rhodos. The laurel's in full bloom right now.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 12:03AM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

Glad I searched beforehand! I see someone else is in the same boat as me.

This is an area I'm looking at changing: LINK

I feel like planting Fothergilla Mt airy and Virginia Sweetspire in this location was a bad idea (not my work!) and, clearly, in the wintertime, it exposes the outside of the house, which I find to be less than attractive.

What I really think should have gone here is an evergreen shrub (flowering or otherwise) as a solid foundation planting for year-round color and form - something that can be kept down to a nice size of, say, 4'-5' tall.

Assuming I can find it, I've been seriously thinking about using Kalmia latifolia 'Bridesmaid' (a dwarf variety). I would like a paler color of flower (not white, not red, but closer to white than red).

I will be transferring the sweetspire and fothergilla, replacing with 3-5 Laurels, maybe?

The Lamiastrum "Herman's Pride" is getting pulled (permanently).

Curious if any of the more knowledgable folks around here may be able to provide insight?

If you can think of another evergreen shrub (understand that I greatly dislike holly) that would work, please let me know! I prefer to stay native on this one.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 3:45PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

I should add to that last bit - I looked at several leucothoes and in addition to not being a lover of the various hollies available out there, I am also not fond of the thought of putting a wax myrtle in this location.

Because of the location of this plant, I don't want to put Florida Anise.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 3:52PM
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The Don's Dwarf wax myrtle is very nice and doesn't look like a wax myrtle even. Mayland said she just got one at Ace Hardware.

Other evergreen natives include Vaccinium darrowii (some cultivars available like Vaccinium darrowii 'Rosa's Blush', beautiful new growth color) and dwarf forms of Yaupon Holly. I find that the yaupon holly looks best when left unpruned (most people prune it); it has a lovely tidy yet informal shape then. It will most likely have been pruned some when you buy it, just let it grow out that haircut. Good examples on the Southern Polytech campus in Marietta around the Atrium building.

An even more remote choice is Pieris phillyreifolia; actually not so remote - I got mine at Georgia Perimeter College's nursery, a great place for natives. I had 5 at one time, but had to move them to a new house and only two have survived, but these two are THRIVING.

And yes, Florida anise would be too big for that spot.

There are also the Inkberry hollies which no one ever thinks is a Holly (Ilex glabra). I assume you have checked into those. Ilex cassine makes some nice hybrids with Ilex opaca and they don't look like hollies much either. Nearly Native Nursery has some of those.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 5:56PM
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Oh, another choice that I found recently at Home Depot: Tsuga canadensis 'Jeddeloh'.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2008 at 8:57PM
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Here are a couple of pics of my Don's Dwarf, in case you want to see. I really like the foliage.

(ugh, we are going to pull all that ivy in the background soon!)

I wanted it for a spot that is a transition between our more typical lawn/flowerbeds area near the house, and the woodsy area that we have between driveway and street. So, I really wanted something there that wasn't too showy (but I also didn't want a holly). Its next to a Mahonia (probably not native, I dont know the difference) and a holly of some kind that I'm not very fond of.

I like it very much in this spot, but for your spot I think I would want something showier -- Mountain Laurel would be stunning, they are so beautiful. You could mix in a (native) rhodie or two. Or you could mix up a couple of varieties of Mtn Laurel. I'm always too indecisive to just pick one of something!

I think I remember Scottsdale Farms carrying a few varieties of Mtn Laurel when we were there (a few months ago now) - you can check their stock on their webpage.

Esh, that native Pieris is really pretty. GA Perimeter College sounds worth a visit.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 3:11PM
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Rhododendron chapmanii would probably be an ideal choice for the location, 3-4ft. tall and evergreen. Mine has pink flowers in Apr-May. Flower color can vary from almost white to deep rose-pink.
There is only one problem, finding a source! Since it is an Endangered Species(Federal & State-FL, natural habitat), no one wants to deal with USFWS to obtain the necessary permit for interstate shipment.
Dodd Nurseries(wholesale) of Semmes, AL propagates them from seed, but they are probably available only within that state.
Mine was a gift from a longtime friend, who propagated it from cuttings. If interested, LMK and I will check with him, to see if he has any available.
I may try collecting seed from mine and see if I can find one that has a rose/pink flower. A waiting period of 4-5 years(probably). I would also like to make a small contribution toward preserving this species, as I understand that the the wild populations have been reduced to only 3 small disjunct colonies in FL. It occurs nowhere else, except in cultivation.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rhododendron chapmanii

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 4:37PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

that is amazing! but based on breadth of size, it looks like i would need several specimens to fill the space (approx. 20' wide, 5' deep, on a curve)

after reading up on the mountain laurels, they seem like slow growers (6"/year), which has me a bit concerned as well, but after checking out the varieties and their associated pictures, i'm still thinking this could be the more feasible (Easier) route.

if i had some of the chapman rhodos, i would totally plant in my yard, though. i have a perfect spot for them. i am all about helping save endangered species :)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 10:06PM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

has anyone shopped at

i just signed up @ Daves Garden and found this 'rare find nursery' place, which happens to have a TON of mountain laurels in amazing sizes, and they have a lot of positive feedback by DG members. a bit pricey...just curious to get more current/local feedback to our area from members on GW -- usually things i get shipped in from out of town to my office in midtown end up getting completely annihilated, so ...

    Bookmark   June 7, 2008 at 10:49PM
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