Growth Rate English Laurel (starting at 3')?

wynswrld98(z7 WA)February 15, 2009

I just purchased two English Laurel hedges which are 3' tall, am curious their growth rate? I know many people hate them but I need privacy and soundproof blocking at the street and there is plenty of room for them to spread 30' tall and wide if they want to. I'm just curious what kind of growth rate I can expect of them each year based on starting at 3' to know when they'll get to 10'+ and start doing what I need them to do. Thanks!

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They grow slow after transplanting for a couple of years. I'm not sure if foliar feeding with some hose end fertilizer would make them grow faster or ammonium sulfate added to the soil would work. Compost and blood meal with extra water might make them take off faster.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 7:02PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

These often do have yellowish foliage in plantings here, suggesting some nitrogen supplementation could be helpful. Best to sample soil and have it tested before undertaking a routine fertilization program.

And throw out the hose end sprayer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Foliar feeding pdf

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 7:21PM
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Mine was yellow and sickly the 1st 2 years. Now about to hit 3 years in ground, really starting to bush and grow. Survived the ice and snow. Mine has appreciated fertilizer. Love English laurels! Exuberant evergreen. A hedge of it may need pruning and shaping in a few years.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 7:38PM
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We have several of the dwarf variety across our front perimeter and they've been slower than DH expected, but I'm very happy with their growth rate! They were 3'+, B&B 4 1/2 yrs ago and they're now around 6' high. 3 are always pruned by the deer this time of year but the Laurels always bounce back by summer.

A good portion of their leaves were yellow for a couple of summers so I started applying the lime and fertilizer I use on the lawn and they looked great last year.

I need to get the soil bboy suggested.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 12:04AM
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As responded to in the same posting in the Shrubs forum, English laurels are not advised plantings in this area. Because of their prolific seeding, often in natural areas, the King County Noxious Weed Board has included English laurel (as well as English holly and Mountain ash) in its 2009 listings as "weeds of concern". This is to alert gardeners to their invasive potential and encourage them to make other, better choices.

I am confused by your terminology - you say you purchased two laurel 'hedges'. Does this mean two plants or two groupings of plants (hedges generally consist of multiple plants planted in line) for two separate areas? If only two plants, I'd seriously consider returning them and making alternate selections. Various other evergreen plants will accomplish a very similar effect without creating unnecessary problems.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 9:37AM
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I was very surprised to hear that English laurel was IDed as a noxious weed. I had a 25' tall and 25' long hedge at my house in Green Lake and never saw any seedlings in my yard. Can you find the link to that?

The established hedge grew several feet a year. I planted some 3' here maybe 4 years ago. Everyone's right about the first couple years being slow. Last year, I started pruning and saw a big spurt (which, in this case, was desirable).


    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 10:20AM
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Cheryl - it is not listed as a noxious weed yet, only as a "weed of concern".

"additional invasive weeds that are not classified as noxious weeds on the state list but are problematic in King County (Weeds of Concern List). Control of these weeds is not required in King County but it is encouraged and the county provides advice and technical bulletins to assist property owners with control. Weeds of concern often impact and degrade native plant and animal habitat. The County Weed Board recognizes these plants are invasive and is collecting information and providing education on control. The Board encourages and recommends control and containment of existing populations and discourages new plantings." (emphasis mine)

Seedlings are not always readily apparent in the exact same location - the birds consume the berries and disperse them over a wide area. I don't grow laurel or Mt. ash myself, but I am constantly pulling out seedlings of both (as well as the holly, of which I inherited a large tree with the property) in my garden. Annual pruning or shearing to eliminate flowering and any berry production will certainly help, but many homeowners are reluctant to devote that kind of ongoing maintenance to their property so the problems persist. And English holly is usually intentionally grown for its colorful berries and is therefore inevitably an issue regarding seeding.

Here is a link that might be useful: KC noxious weed listing

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 11:50AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

A.L. Jacobson, WILD PLANTS OF GREATER SEATTLE developed frequency categories for all plants listed in the Annotated Checklist near the back of the book. In the SECOND EDITION the local status of some familiar cultivated plants is depicted as follows:

Acer platanoides Norway Maple - weedily naturalized.

Betula pendula European White Birch - naturalized weedily.

Buddleja davidii Butterfly Bush - naturalized weedily.

Euphorbia myrsinites Myrtle or Creeping Spurge. Donkey Tail - naturalized weedily.

Foeniculum vulgare Fennel - naturalized weedily.

Hedera helix ssp. hibernica Atlantic Ivy - Seattle's worst weed.

Helleborus foetidus Stinking Hellebore - reseeds weedily.

Hyacinthoides x massartiana Hybrid Spanish Bluebell - naturalized weedily.

Hypericum calycinum Garden St. John's-wort - escapes weedily, as at Burbank Park.

Ilex aquifolium English Holly - naturalized weedily.

Meconopsis cambrica Welsh Poppy - weedily naturalized in shady sites.

Prunus avium Mazzard (Cherry). Gean. Wild Sweet Cherry. - naturalized weedily.

Prunus laurocerasus English Laurel - naturalized weedily.

Rosa multiflora Japanese Rambler Rose - naturalized weedily.

Stachys byzantina Lamb's Ears - reseeds weedily.

Viola riviniana (European) Dog Violet - reseeds weedily, if not naturalized.

Viola riviniana 'Purpurea' (miscalled V. labradorica 'Purpurea') - Ditto but more common.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 2:26PM
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You can't seriously doubt the invasiveness of English Laurel can you? Garden conditions aren't the same as conditions eleswhere. First, your laurels may be too young to flower much or maybe pruning prevents their flowering. Also, if they are all cuttings from one source (common in nursery stock) its' possible they won't set seed. Most English Laurel have no problem seeding around when they're anywhere near woodlands where they grow along the edges and under light canopies. Look around any semi-wild Seattle park of size, such as Discovery, Seward, etc and you will see a small sample of how they are growing elsewhere. If you don't see laurel there it may be because many of these parks are constantly trying to get rid of them. Parks, such as Lake Fenwick in Kent, where I walked this morning, are full of huge wild English Laurels as they do not have the money or volunteers to keep up with removal.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 3:10PM
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bboy, when was that listing complied? I've been trying to convince a number of folks Euphorbia myrsinites was a weed for years, but you still see it in virtually every nursery. In fact, I might include Euphorbia characias in that list as well :-) I've got enough seedlings of those - although I haven't grown it for years - to populate a whole neighborhood of gardens. Ditto Meconopsis cambrica, which is easily the most bothersome weed in my garden (and which I didn't plant!), followed by the violets.

OTOH, I'd be thrilled if Helleborus foetidus reseeded for me. They just croak after a couple of seasons and never produce offspring.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 7:50PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Second edition dates from 2008. Plant was not mentioned in previous (2001) edition.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 8:44PM
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As I stated earlier, I had a 25' row of mature laurels 25' tall on my property when I lived in Seattle - for TEN years. During that time, I don't recall ever having to weed out 'volunteer' laurel from elsewhere on my 7500 s.f. lot. Agreed, with wind and birds, the seedlings could be quite far off.

I'm intrigued because I had to remove quite a few other out-of-control invasives after getting the property (English ivy, St. John's wart, blue bells, "Chinese forget-me-nots", etc.), but I'd never noticed a problem with the laurel.

Don't get me wrong: usually, I wonder why a plant hasn't been put on the invasives list EARLIER (i.e. butterfly bush). Out-of-control plants create work for the landowner, and I'd never knowingly put one in the ground.

Yeah, maybe the ones in Seattle were all related (I have no clue the requirements for laurel.) And, YES, I do believe the newer ones that I put in the ground here were all from cuttings and could be related.

Who knows? At both places, there are/were numerous squirrels at both places. Maybe they've been taking care of it for me!


    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 9:32PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

For the other thread...

Here is a link that might be useful: Growth Rate English Laurel (starting at 3')? - Shrubs Forum - GardenWeb

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 9:49PM
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How tough is it for a city slicker to pull out these weeds? Get out your hoe and dig away. Cement is way more invasive. I guess scotch broom isn't on the list because it's out of city limits.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 12:44AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The list from WILD PLANTS OF GREATER SEATTLE is a selection of weedy plants used in local horticulture I excerpted from the book's Annotated Checklist of all plants seen growing wild. There the broom, which is seldom planted intentionally in its typical wild form is described as "naturalized abundantly".

If you're talking instead about the King County list...

Here is a link that might be useful: Scotch Broom (Scot's Broom) Identification - Cytisus scoparius

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 10:08AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Helleborus foetidus reseeded for me, I ripped them out for years. I just don't care for the plant. I've been ripping out ivy and holly seedlings for many years as well and have no idea where they are coming from. No holly tree that I can see. There was a laurel hedge here that we removed and I did find seedlings for a few years but they haven't persisted. Of course, I have no idea how many are in the neighbor's yards.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 11:53AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

South of Seattle a colony of stinking hellebore may be seen advancing on the freeway from adjoining property. At flowering time they are quite conspicuous in the grass.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 7:25PM
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Has anyone seen Euphorbia myrsinites growing wild other than at the verge of someone's garden or in an alley? I'm curious because I like identifying "weeds" as much as I do native wildflowers and I have never seen this outside a garden and I get out hiking, birding, etc. a lot. Maybe I just have my blinders on??

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 1:49PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Same here, but there is a lot out there I haven't seen either. Look at all the plants that go through the doors of garden centers every year, to disappear into the landscape. There are numbers of particular kinds of trees I know have been sold locally yet cannot name a single planting of these largest and most conspicuous of living landscape elements. A big patch of something flat on the ground like the euphorbia could be driven or walked near repeatedly without being spotted.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 11:50AM
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Hi bboy,

If you're familiar with euphorbia myrsinites you know its a *very* distinctive looking plant. Sort of like a little bluish octopus. Hard to miss, esp. for those who are familiar with it. Not that I notice *everything*. With that sort of A.D.D. I would never get to the end of any walking trail ;-)

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 2:44PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

One big local patch I've heard about - maybe gardengal48 posted about it on this site and/or there is more than one like this - is on a bank facing the Sound and away from the garden where it spread from.

There's an example of a location where you would never know if you didn't walk over to the embankment and look down it.

Doesn't matter how conspicuous the leaf color is if the thing is nearly flat on the ground and obscured by topography or vegetation.

I once looked for prickly pears at a park that had them shown as being present on a sign in the parking lot. Walked all along the trail, looked all over the open, thinly grassy slopes above the beach - and never saw them.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 11:46PM
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Last week, prior to reading this forum, and on advice of Emery Gardens in Lynnwood, I too planted two small Otto Luyken English Laurels next to my retaining wall. Their advice was based on photos I provided and the following criteria. That it
a. not produce agressive roots as it would be right next to a retaining wall and my house
b. not require much maintenance.
c. manage in part-shade (by 1:30pm this area is in shade)

After the overwhelmingly negative comments about this plant on this forum I suspect the value of their advice. Because the laurels were 40% off I do not have the option to return the plants (return policy).

Sounds like the only right thing to do with these plants is to uproot and burn, however I hate to waste my money. Please tell me if I am putting my driveway's retaining wall at risk by leaving what is labelled as a 'dwarf' variety of English Laurel, there.

Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 2:59AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Not going to affect the wall, not the full sized full vigor typical plant (or similar cultivars, like those sold as 'Nana') most used for hedging here. Will eventually grow above head height, after many years, if living there long enough. Same situation as other slow-growing shrubs that may last a long time, after so many years of so many inches per year of growth you end up with a fairly big bush.

The main problem I see with 'Otto Luyken' here is that this one seems particularly susceptible to Prunus Shot Hole, with the result that local plantings rather often look as though vandals had been firing shotguns through the bushes. Other than that a handsome perky evergreen shrub. Some fruits are sometimes formed but I do not very often see spontaneous seedlings resembling that particular type. Of course, it may give off some seedlings of normal (more typical for the species) appearance - I don't know.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 2:00PM
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grrrnthumb(z8 WA)

Bboy, when you talk about head-height for this one, is that if it's not treated like hedge (pruned)? The older ones I see in parking lots are in the range of up to 15 yrs old and still pruned at around 3'.
I do think that perhaps it is more susceptible than most to poor pruning: the bottoms die out quickly if the top is allowed to grow wider than the bottom.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 10:46PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Pruning determines rate and size, no point in referring to one being kept low with pruning when discussing representative size characteristic of variety. If interfered with by being cut back a shrub could be just about any (lesser) height in so many years. The most straightforward way to determine likely potential future height of a particular specimen is to look at length of shoots present now, multiply those by so many years (assuming same rate is kept up, and there is not reduction in rate of progress due to pruning).

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 12:25AM
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