The cherry laurel or, as it is botanically correctly called, the laurel cherry (bot. Prunus laurocerasus) is a popular hedge and solitary plant that has found its way into many gardens. The main reason for this is their strong growth, which leads to high and dense privacy hedges in just a few years. By cutting off the flowers that appear in spring, many a gardener tries to increase the growth rate of the cherry laurel. Does that actually make sense?

Cut off cherry laurel blossoms – makes sense?

Between May and June, the laurel cherry shows its sweet-smelling flower decoration, which consists of numerous creamy white flower clusters and is a valuable food source for insects. The berries, which are initially red and later black when ripe, develop from this by autumn. Since developing the flowers of the plant requires a lot of strength and energy, which is at the expense of shoot growth, some gardeners simply cut them off and hope for better growth. However, trimming the flowering shoots is tedious (and can only be done mechanically with the help of pruning shears – which takes a lot of time depending on the size and length of the hedge) and is only very shortly before the recommended second hedge trimming, which is around St. John’s Day anyway should be done around June 24th.

Tip: When pruning back in early summer, shorten all new shoots so that the cherry laurel is then encouraged to grow more densely. This measure is particularly indicated for young plants; older and well-rooted specimens are primarily pruned in March and/or October.

Cut off the faded

It is true that cutting away the flowers makes little sense (and often does not show the desired success), but faded flowers can be removed at the same time as the pruning is due. This has the advantage that the poisonous berries cannot develop and therefore no longer pose a danger to small children. On the other hand, completely different factors have a much greater influence on the growth of the laurel cherry, as the following sections show. If you want to accelerate the growth of your Prunus laurocerasus hedge, you have to use other levers.

Rapid growth

An average laurel cherry grows up to 50 centimeters in height and another 35 centimeters in width per year. Depending on the type and variety, the tree can grow up to six meters high and up to three meters wide – no wonder that the evergreen cherry laurel is used primarily for the design of dense privacy hedges. However, growth is not always the same and some specimens do not seem to develop as they should. There are various reasons for this, all of which have an influence on the extent and speed of growth:

  • location
  • Floor summation
  • weather
  • Care measures (water, fertilization)

If the hedge is in a location that is not very suitable for the laurel cherry – for example in heavy, poorly permeable soil – the shrub will only grow a little. The same applies if the plant suffers from a nutrient deficiency. So before attempting to stimulate growth by removing the flower clusters that appear in May, you should first find out the real cause of the undergrowth and eliminate it. Otherwise, you will unnecessarily deprive yourself of flower ornaments, since cutting off the flowers from the cherry laurel will have no effect on the growth rate.

Vigor of different cherry laurel species

Aside from the influence of external factors on the growth of Prunus laurocerasus, a lesser or greater degree may be due to the species and cultivar selected. The different types of cherry laurel grow at different speeds and reach very different heights. So if your hedge is also noticeably slow, this could also be due to the variety:

  • ‘Diana’: annual growth of up to 50 cm, growth height of up to three metres
  • ‘Greentorch’: annual growth of up to 30 cm, growth height of up to 250 cm
  • ‘Herbergii’: annual growth of up to 40 cm, height of growth up to 250 cm
  • ‘Hibani’: annual growth of up to 40 cm, growth height of up to three metres
  • ‘Mano’: slow-growing, low-growing variety, maximum annual growth of 20 cm, height of growth up to 150 cm
  • ‘Mount Vernon’: slow-growing ground cover, annual growth between 5 and 15 cm, maximum height of 40 cm
  • ‘Otto Luyken’: annual growth of up to 40 cm, growth height of up to 150 cm
  • ‘Piri’: slow-growing dwarf form, annual growth between five and 15 cm, height of growth up to 100 cm
  • ‘Reynvaanii’: annual growth of up to 40 cm, growth height of up to three metres
  • ‘Rotundifolia’: annual growth of up to 40 cm, growth height of up to four metres
  • ‘Schipkaensis Macrophylla’: annual growth of up to 50 cm, growth height of up to three metres
Tip: Fertilize the cherry laurel with plenty of compost and horn shavings when planting, and you should also water it vigorously afterwards. Older plants receive a long-term fertilizer rich in nitrogen at the beginning of the season and are watered when necessary. Well cared for in this way, you create the best conditions for rapid and healthy growth.

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