Cherry laurel: expert tips for planting, pruning & care


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Favourite fruit: raspberries, strawberries and pineapple
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As a hedge, the evergreen cherry laurel provides a perfect privacy screen. We show you what to consider when planting, pruning and caring for this plant.

Cherry laurel hedge atop a wall
The cherry laurel is ideal for creating an evergreen hedge [Photo: nnattalli/]

Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) is a popular hedge plant not only because of its good vigour and dense, evergreen leaves. Unlike other representatives of the rose family (Rosaceae), this robust plant copes well with almost any location and its demands on the soil are also kept within limits. However, it needs a little help to grow well. Therefore, sufficient fertilisation is an absolute must and provides a good foundation when pruning. We will show you how to plant your cherry laurel and, with a little care, quickly grow it into an imposing hedge that will give you some well-deserved privacy.

Cherry laurel varieties: also suitable as hedges?

Different varieties of cherry laurel differ mainly in the shape and colour of their leaves. Thus, there are small and large leaves, rich, dark shades of green or foliage with beautiful bronze shades. But the varieties differ not only visually. Their use as a hedge is also strongly dependent on the variety. There are very fast-growing varieties like ‘Caucasica’ or particularly bushy, opaque varieties like ‘Rotundifolia’.

The varieties vary in hardiness as much as their appearance. From relatively frost-sensitive to very frost-hardy varieties, everything is there. Therefore, before you buy, think about what features are most likely to suit your garden project.

Planting cherry laurel

By simply paying attention to a few little things when planting your cherry laurel, you can enjoy a dense, tall hedge or an imposing specimen plant within a few years.

Cherry laurel: when to plant?

The best time to plant cherry laurel is in autumn. This will give the plant enough time to take root before the first frost and it can then properly sprout for the first time in spring. For planting, it is best to choose a dry day, free of snow and frost.

Planting cherry laurel: step-by-step instructions

Cherry laurels are considered extremely unpretentious and hardy. Therefore, almost any location is suitable for these rapidly spreading plants. Whether sun or shade, the cherry laurel will find its way up. It is also unfussy when it comes to soil conditions. However, it does not tolerate waterlogging. Therefore, loosen very heavy soil with sand and dig up the soil around the planting hole. Once you have found a nice place for your plants, it is time to plant them out:

  1. Planting distance: 80 – 100 cm
  2. Dig planting holes
  3. Place a drainage layer of sand, gravel or shards of clay on the bottom
  4. Mix excavated topsoil with compost, manure or bone meal
  5. Place cherry laurel vertically in the planting hole
  6. Set the root ball so that it sits as deep as in the container
  7. Fill the planting hole and tramp down the soil well
  8. Water well
Young cherry laurel planted in a row
Leave enough space between the plants, otherwise you may have space problems later [Photo: Dedii/]

In order for the hedges to close more quickly, the planting distance can be reduced to three plants per metre. For container plants, the planting hole should be much larger than the planting container. When baling, it is advisable to give the roots plenty of space. Also, in the case of root balls, you should put the roots in water for about half an hour before planting. During the period when your cherry laurel is growing, watering is done as soon as the soil dries out superficially because a lot of water evaporates through the large leaves, which increases the risk of drying out.

See our special article for more on planting cherry laurel.

Propagating cherry laurel

Cherry laurels can be easily propagated by cuttings or runners. This means that you can easily fill gaps in the hedge due to winter or disease yourself. Propagation of cuttings offers high chances of success even for novice gardeners. It is best to use healthy shoots about 15 cm long as cuttings – they fall either way several times a year when pruning. In order for the cuttings to take root, you should proceed as follows:

  • Discard the lower leaves
  • Shorten any remaining leaves by half
  • Fill a small pot with a mixture of sand and soil
  • Put about half of the shoot into the substrate
  • Keep soil nice and moist but avoid waterlogging
  • Put foil hood over the pot
  • Choose a bright location
  • Temperature: about 20 °C
  • It takes a few weeks for the roots to form
Cherry laurel cuttings planted in the ground
Once roots have formed, the cherry laurel cuttings can be planted in the ground [Photo: PhotographyByMK/]

The leaves are shortened to minimise evaporation. Also, be sure to avoid waterlogging so that mould does not form. You can also root the cutting in a glass of water and then plant it in the ground. Here, the cutting should be a few centimetres deep in the water. Propagation via seeds is also possible. However, both germination and the formation of a real plant take a relatively long time.

Cherry laurel care

Of course, cherry laurel also needs to be properly cared for. We have briefly summarised below what needs to be taken into account during care.

Watering cherry laurel

Watering is advisable, especially on sunny and warm days. Generally, cherry laurel watering is done when the soil surface around the plants has dried out. Since cherry laurel is a deep-rooted plant, you should water the root zone thoroughly so that the water reaches the lower roots. However, be sure to avoid waterlogging.


Just like us humans, cherry laurels need a lot of nutrients during their growth phase. Although they do not grow biceps in this case, the shoots gain a good 40 cm per year. Therefore, care of your cherry laurel starts with planting. Mix compost or fertiliser with long-term effects such as our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food into the topsoil.

All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
All Purpose Plant Food, 1.5kg
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  • Perfect for a variety of plants in the garden & on the balcony
  • Promotes healthy plant growth & an active soil life
  • Long-lasting fertiliser that is free from animal products - child & pet friendly

Adequate fertilisation will not only make your cherry laurel grow properly but will also support the plant’s resistance to frost. If you are conscious about the environment, it is better to avoid mineral fertilisers. These are produced in a way that wastes resources, are more difficult to dose and are usually more expensive. Find out here how you can still optimise fertilisation.

Pruning cherry laurel

Regular pruning of your cherry laurel will encourage growth and keep your plants in the shape you want. The growth-happy plants can be pruned in the first spring after planting. After that, cut back once or twice a year, depending on how much the variety grows. The first pruning is done in the spring before bud break. Here, meticulously remove any winter damage. This involves cutting back frostbitten or withered shoots deep into the healthy wood. The second pruning takes place at the end of May to the beginning of June, but no later than the beginning of August. Here only lightly prune into the desired shape. Do not choose a day for pruning that is too wet or too sunny, otherwise there is a risk of fungal infection or sunburn. In addition, do not use electric clippers for pruning. This significantly injures the large leaves, which leads to the fact that the plants look more dishevelled than well-groomed. In addition, the injured leaves turn brown and unsightly. Good, solid handiwork with sharp secateurs offers a remedy.

New shoots on a cherry laurel stem
To ensure that the cherry laurel will continue to grow for many years, regular pruning should be carried out [Photo: TMsara/]

However, always work with gloves on and do not touch your face with your fingers. This is because cherry laurel leaves secrete a plant sap on their underside that can because contact allergies. More about the toxicity of cherry laurel can be found here.

Note: There is a lot of foliage due to all the pruning. This rots rather moderately well with the cherry laurel. Therefore, ensure good mixing and layering with soil in the compost.

We have summarised more about the correct pruning of cherry laurel here in a special article.

Diseases and poor growth

Although the rose family (Rosaceae) is considered extremely hardy, nutrient and water deficiencies quickly affect them and lead to increased susceptibility to disease.

Cherry laurel: yellow and brown leaves

There are many reasons why the once vibrant green leaves of your cherry laurel may turn yellow and brown:

  1. Soil compaction and waterlogging
  2. Sunburn
  3. Frost and bare frost
  4. Water supply too low or too high
  5. Fungal infections
  6. Nutrient deficiency (nitrogen, iron)
  7. Leaves were injured during cutting (electric clippers)
  8. Pot too small
  9. Calcareous soil with too high pH value
  10. Stress due to change of location
White blossoms of the cherry laurel with brown leaves
There can be many reasons why the leaves of your cherry laurel turn brown [Photo: Gabriela Beres/]

For more detailed information on yellow and brown leaves on cherry laurel and how to prevent them, see this special article here.

Cherry laurel losing leaves

The fact that the evergreen plants occasionally lose leaves is quite normal. Leaf margin necrosis (brown leaf margins) usually occurs on older leaves before they sail toward the ground. However, if the foliage piles up or even all the leaves are shed, this has other reasons. The reasons are the same as for the previously mentioned leaf discolouration because the next stage of this process is the shedding of damaged leaves. Therefore, you should proceed here as described in the previous section.

Cherry laurel does not want to grow

If your laurel does not shoot up as expected, this may be due to improper care or simply the growth characteristics of the variety. Therefore, find out the growth rate of your cherry laurel variety before you get frustrated. If it is not due to the selected variety, the following reasons for sparse growth are possible:

  • Too little / too much water
  • Diseases, pests
  • Too little fertiliser
  • Too little pruning
  • Compacted, heavy soil
Cherry laurel leaves covered in water droplets
The cherry laurel loses a lot of water through its large leaves. Therefore, a sufficient water supply is particularly important [Photo: Anna Bogush/]

How to restore your plant:

  1. Water well; avoid waterlogging
  2. Remove diseased parts of the plant and control the pests/diseases (see below)
  3. Fertilise twice a year
  4. Prune twice a year (see above)
  5. Digging, improve the soil, replanting

Do not forget about watering, particularly in winter. Especially on sunny days, the cherry laurel loses vast amounts of water through its leaves, even in the cold season. Improve the soil by working coarse sand and compost into the soil. When pruning in the spring, cut out the flower buds. As a result, all energy is put into the formation of shoots.

Common diseases and pests

Stress and waterlogging in particular is difficult for cherry laurel because the moisture promotes fungal infections. The most common diseases of cherry laurel include:

  • Shoot blight: perforated leaves with red-brown spots
  • False mildew: yellow spots on the leaf; white coatings on the underside of the leaf
  • Powdery mildew: coating on the upper side of the leaf

In the case of fungal infections, you should remove and dispose of the infected leaves to prevent the infection from spreading. If the infestation is more severe, especially in the case of powdery mildew, consider fungicide treatment. However, to prevent this from happening in the first place, you can treat your plants with Algan (Neudorf), for example, and you should of course avoid waterlogging.

A weevil on the stem of cherry laurel
Both the weevil and the larvae are dangerous [Photo: Sandra Standbridge/]

The most common pest is the black vine weevil, which, as a larva, eats the roots and thus damages them. As a result, the plant absorbs less water and nutrients, grows weaker or may even dry up. Even when fully grown, the nocturnal beetles are enemies of every cherry laurel lover because they eat small bays in the leaf edges. To combat them, fill clay pots with wood wool and place them under the infested plants. These are used by the beetles as resting places during the day. The beetles nestled in the wood wool can then be disposed of during the day and the pots filled with new wood wool.

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