A mountain laurel is an evergreen shrub that grows large flowers in shades of pink and white. It only ever sheds leaves to accommodate new growth. Follow these tips when pruning your mountain laurel, as careless cutting can leave evergreens disfigured or destroyed.
Since your mountain laurel can grow up to 10 feet tall, consider purchasing a set of pole pruners. These help you to reach all those high spots on your mountain laurel. You will also need lopping shears, hand shears and scissor action shears.
You may not have to prune very much off of your mountain laurel, but you can prune it all the way back into a leafless wood that is 2 to 4 feet off the ground. This can take 2 to 3 years to fully grow back. By the next growing season, new shoots will begin to form as long as the plant is healthy and well maintained.
You will otherwise need to use a thinning and renewal method on your shrub. Remove dead branches to improve the light infiltration which will bring out the exquisiteness of your mountain laurel.
Shaping shrubs consists of simply shortening each individual branch in a method is known as heading. This involves pruning the branch right above a bud or even another branch. To ensure that your evergreen will be able to rejuvenate, be sure to leave some kind of foliage when thinning.
Beware of dead zones of needles that have withered away on the inside of your mountain laurel. These needles have not gotten the right amount of sun to flourish. It is very important that all of the pruning that takes place on your mountain laurel is above its dead zone. Any cutting that is done below it could completely disfigure your shrub.
Wait until your mountain laurel flowers have finished blooming before you prune. However, if you wait until late fall or winter, you will severely diminish the amount of blooms that your mountain laurel will have the following growing season.
You can also prune when the growth begins to control the shape of your shrub. As mentioned above, knowing where the dead zone is on your shrub can keep it from becoming permanently disfigured.