Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) hedge plants have several notable characteristics and benefits for gardeners. Here’s a summary of their properties and how to care for them:
- Moderate Growth Rate: Portuguese laurel hedge plants are moderately fast-growing, typically adding 30-50 centimeters of height per year.
- Evergreen Foliage: These plants are evergreen, meaning they retain their leaves and color throughout the winter months. This makes them an excellent choice for maintaining a green appearance in your garden year-round.
- Conical Shape: Portuguese laurel hedges have a conical shape with dark glossy green leaves and red stems, giving them an attractive and vibrant appearance.
- Distinctive Appearance: Unlike the more commonly used Cherry Laurel plants, Portuguese laurels are slower growing and have a much darker color.
- Flowers and Berries: Some Portuguese laurel plants produce small, fragrant white flowers in early summer, followed by dark purple fruits in the autumn. These flowers and berries attract bees and other beneficial insects.
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Benefits: Planting Portuguese laurel hedges can encourage biodiversity and support ecosystems. Hedges provide shelter, security, and habitats for nesting birds, as well as food for birds and insects. They also serve as a network for small animals to move around and populate the garden.
How to Plant Portuguese Laurel Hedge Plants:
- In Ireland, it’s best to plant them from pots rather than as bare-root plants due to the cooler climate. Pot-grown plants can be planted at any time of the year once the root system is established.
- Traditionally, they are planted 12 inches apart for a fuller hedge, but they can also be spaced 18 inches apart.
- Water newly planted Portuguese laurel hedge plants regularly, especially if planted during warm or dry periods.
Tips for Care:
- Portuguese laurel hedge plants can thrive in both shade and full sun and are suitable for various soil types and pH levels.
- They prefer well-draining soil and don’t like very wet conditions.
- Water young plants regularly in their first year of growth.
- While they are Mediterranean plants, Portuguese laurels can withstand temperatures as low as -23°C.
- Pruning is typically done in late spring or summer when new growth appears. This helps encourage bushier growth.
- Clear the area of weeds before planting to reduce competition for nutrients.
- When planting, dig a hole deep enough to cover the roots, being careful not to damage them.
- Walk the soil around the newly planted hedge to remove air pockets.
- Yellowing leaves can indicate stress, often caused by overwatering or underwatering.
In summary, Portuguese laurel hedge plants are a versatile choice for an evergreen hedge, providing year-round greenery and attractive features such as flowers and berries. With proper care, they can thrive in various conditions and support local biodiversity.
You can learn more about Planting Portuguese Laurel Hedging Plants in our video.