How do you take care of laurels?

Getting Started

Laurel, scientifically known as Laurus nobilis, is an evergreen shrub or small tree widely cultivated for its aromatic leaves and ornamental value. These plants have been prized for centuries for their culinary uses as well as their ability to enhance the beauty of gardens and landscapes. Proper care of laurels is essential to ensure their health and vigor. In this article, we will examine the most important aspects of laurel care, including planting, watering, pruning, fertilizing, and pest control.

1. Planting Laurels

Planting laurels requires careful consideration of their preferred growing conditions. These plants thrive in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Choose a location that receives full to partial sunlight, as laurels prefer bright light for optimal growth. When planting laurels, dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball and make sure the top of the root ball is at or slightly above the surface of the soil. Fill the hole with soil, gently compacting it around the roots. Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil and encourage root establishment.
It’s important to note that laurels are tolerant of a wide range of soil pH levels, but prefer slightly acidic to neutral soils. If your soil is too alkaline, incorporating organic matter such as compost or peat moss during planting can help create a more favorable growing environment.

2. Watering Requirements

Proper watering is critical to the health and vitality of your laurels, especially during the establishment period. After planting, water the laurels deeply to ensure that moisture reaches the root system. During the first growing season, it’s important to keep the soil moist but not soggy. As the plants mature, they become more tolerant of drought, but it’s still important to provide supplemental watering during extended dry periods.

To determine when to water, check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry at that depth, it’s time to water. Applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant can help conserve soil moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature.

3. Pruning and shaping

Regular pruning is essential to maintain the shape and promote healthy growth of laurels. Pruning should be done in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Start by removing dead, damaged, or diseased branches. Then prune selectively to maintain the desired size and shape of the plant. Laurels respond well to pruning and can be shaped into formal hedges or topiaries.

When pruning, use sharp, clean pruning shears to make clean cuts. Avoid cutting into old wood, as laurels have a limited ability to regenerate growth from older branches. Instead, focus on shaping and thinning the younger branches to maintain a balanced and attractive appearance. Regular pruning also helps improve air circulation within the plant, reducing the risk of disease.

4. Fertilization

Proper fertilization provides laurel with the nutrients it needs for vigorous growth and vibrant foliage. Before applying any fertilizer, it’s important to conduct a soil test to determine nutrient deficiencies or imbalances. This will help you select the appropriate fertilizer formula.
Generally, a slow-release balanced fertilizer in a 10-10-10 or 14-14-14 ratio can be applied in early spring and again in early summer. Avoid over-fertilizing, as excessive nutrient levels can lead to excessive vegetative growth and reduced resistance to pests and diseases. Always follow fertilizer package directions for application rates and methods.

5. Pest control

Laurels are generally resistant to most pests and diseases, but they may occasionally be affected by certain problems. Common pests that may attack laurels include aphids, scale insects, and spider mites. Regular inspection of plants can help detect pest infestations early.

If pests are present, consider using natural methods such as spraying the foliage with a strong stream of water to dislodge them or applying insecticidal soap or horticultural oil according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For severe infestations, consult a local garden center or professional arborist for appropriate pest control measures.


Proper care and maintenance are essential to the health and beauty of your laurel. By following the guidelines in this article, you can ensure that your laurels thrive and bring joy to your garden or landscape. Remember to provide proper growing conditions, adequate watering, regular pruning, proper fertilization, and prompt treatment of any pest problems. With proper care, laurels can be long-lived and will continue to enhance your surroundings for years to come.


How do you take care of laurels?

Taking care of laurels requires attention to watering, pruning, fertilizing, and pest control. Here are some key tips:

1. How often should I water my laurels?

Laurels generally prefer moist but well-drained soil. Water your laurels deeply once a week, especially during dry periods. Adjust the frequency depending on the weather and moisture levels in the soil.

2. When is the best time to prune laurels?

Pruning laurels is best done in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This timing allows the plant to recover quickly and promotes healthy regrowth. Trim back any dead, damaged, or overgrown branches to maintain the desired shape and size.

3. Should I fertilize my laurels?

Yes, regular fertilization can benefit laurels. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring to promote healthy growth. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate amount and method of application.

4. How can I protect my laurels from pests?

Laurels are generally resistant to pests, but they can occasionally be affected by aphids, scale insects, or caterpillars. Regularly inspect the foliage for signs of infestation. If pests are present, you can use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil according to the product instructions to control them.

5. Are laurels prone to any diseases?

Laurels can be susceptible to diseases such as leaf spot, powdery mildew, or root rot. To prevent these issues, ensure good air circulation around the plant, avoid overwatering, and promptly remove any infected leaves or branches. If necessary, consult a local garden center or a plant expert for specific guidance on disease management.