Choosing Companion Plants to Grow with Your Mountain Laurels
Mountain Laurels are beautiful shrubs with pink buds and white blossoms. They grow well with rhododendrons, azaleas and other plants that need acidic, well drained soils. Mountain Laurels can be used as foundation plants, mass plantings and for woodland planting. They can also be placed as a foreground to other, larger trees and shrubs.
Rhododendrons and Azaleas
Rhododendrons and Azaleas are shrubs that need the same soil and care as Mountain Laurels. If you already have one of these plants, the chances are that the others will thrive as well. Before you plant one of these shrubs, be sure that your soil is prepared for them. There are testing kits that will check the soils pH levels. It is best for the soil to be acidic, with a pH of 5 or 6. The soil should also be moist, well drained and composed of at least 1/3 organic matter. If this is not the case, mix several inches of organic mulch and fertilizer into the soil. The fertilizer you use should be designed to bring your soil pH to optimal levels. Like Mountain Laurels, rhododendrons and Azaleas are also partial to shade.
Hemlock is a shade loving evergreen. It can be kept small with consistent pruning, or it can be allowed to grow very large. Hemlocks are one of the faster growing evergreens. In a woodland setting, Hemlocks provide good shade for Mountain Laurels, Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Like other woodland plants, it thrives in very organic soil. As a foundation plant, it can be kept small. The green offsets the blooms of the shrubs and flowers you plant around it.
Japanese Maple is another tree that will offset Mountain Laurels. As the name may suggest, Japanese Maple is a deciduous tree, so while there are no leaves in the winter, the brilliant red of fall contrast beautifully with the green leaves of the shrubs around it. Japanese Maple grows best in well drained, slightly acidic soil. If your soil isn’t too acidic around the other plants, the maple should do well.
Ferns, added judiciously around the base of any of these plants will help add a natural look. They act as ground cover and help keep the soil moist. Ferns come in many varieties. Some are lacy and delicate; others are more robust and plain. While they do not flower, the fronds a fern sends up are a beautiful addition to the plant. The green base the fern provides emphasizes any color in the shrubs and flowers around it.
Knowing the setting in which you will use the Mountain Laurel will help you decide choose its companion plants. If you are designing a woodland setting, use plants that naturally grow with the shrub in its native habitat. A foundation needs a more formal approach. The plants will merely emphasize the focal point. Their colors and the time they bloom are the more important factors. If you are planting a laurel to emphasize colors already established in your garden, you just need to know where the best soil for its growth is located and what plants you wish to make known.