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Prunus laurocerasus ‘Mount Vernon’

English Laurel
Rosaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs

PRUNUS

Discussed here are ornamental members of the genus Prunus. Fruit trees belonging to this genus—collectively known as stone fruits—are described under their common names. See Almond; Apricot; Cherry; Peach and Nectarine; Plum (includes Prune); and Plum Hybrids.

Ornamental species and forms can be divided into two categories: evergreen and deciduous. Evergreen types are used chiefly as hedges, screens, shade trees, and street trees. Deciduous flowering trees and shrubs, closely related to the fruit trees mentioned above, are valued for their winter or spring floral display as well as for attractive shape and for foliage form, texture, and sometimes even fall color. Many of these deciduous kinds offer a bonus of edible fruit.

Prunus laurocerasus ‘Zabeliana’
Prunus laurocerasus ‘Zabeliana’

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Prunus laurocerasus

This evergreen is native from southeastern Europe to Iran. Fast growing to 15–30 ft. tall and wide. Leathery, oblong, glossy dark green leaves are 3–7 in. long. Blooms in spring or early summer, bearing 3–5-in. spikes of fragrant, creamy white flowers that are often hidden by the leaves. Flowers are followed by small black fruit. Needs reasonably good drainage. Can thrive with little to regular water (regular applications of moisture and nutrients will speed growth and keep top dense). Needs some shade in hottest climates; can take sun or shade elsewhere. Tolerates salt spray.

Few pests, though it may be troubled occasionally by scale insects. English laurel is often sheared, but doing so mutilates its large leaves; for a better-looking result, make selective cuts with hand pruners back within the plant.

‘Mount Vernon’

Very slowly forms a dense mound to about 2 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide (taller in the Pacific Northwest). Though very dwarf, it has full-size leaves like those of the species. Can be used as a groundcover.

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