Laurel is an excellent hedge and screening plant that can be used for much more than just a hedge! It is evergreen, quick-growing, and holds up well to trimming, unlike many other hedges that grow quickly but are difficult to maintain after they have grown tall. This post will go over some tips and tricks and answer the question of how to make laurel grow faster.

Large Laurel
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What is Laurel?

Laurel is the name of a shrub in the family of plants called Lauraceae. The most common type is known as “sweet bay” or “bay laurel”, and it is considered a symbol of victory. In ancient times, laurels were awarded to victors of contests from Olympic games all the way to gladiatorial combat, including their ceremonial wreath at death. The word “Laurel” itself comes from the Greek word meaning “honour”. Its leaves are large and shiny bright green with masses of white flowers on racemes in spring – although flower buds often get cut off when trimming it back to size.

Laurel does bear fruit and they can seem tempting, but they are not edible for human consumption; instead, their red berries eventually turn black once matured over time and make a great snack for hungry birds.

How Fast Does a Laurel Grow?

What is the best way to determine how fast a Laurel hedge will grow? It may sound like an easy question, but there are many different factors that can influence the growth rate. Some of these include the variety chosen for planting, soil composition, and drainage level at planting time (especially important if you live in wetter climates), depth that plants were planted below the ground surface line; when fertilisers or pesticides have been applied during the growing season(s); general climate conditions where the plant is located.

Popular Varieties of Laurel and their Growth Rate

NameRateAverage Growth Per Season
Bay Laurelslow-growing15/30cm per year
Caucasica Laurelfast-growing30/60cm per year
Common Laurelfast-growing30/60cm per year
Compact Laurelslow-growing10/20cm per year
Etna Laurelmoderate growing20/40cm per year
Portugal Laurelmoderate growing20/40cm per year
Spotted Laurelmoderate growing20/40cm per year
Chart Showing Popular Varieties of Laurel and their Growth Rate

How to Make Laurel Grow Faster

If your laurel does not seem to be growing too well, there are some things that you can do to help your plant flourish and grow to its full potential.

Nicely Pruned Laurel Bush
Nicely Pruned Laurel Bush

Some of them may be a little easier than others if the plant is already well established but by following our tips, you should start seeing the results that you are hoping for.

Choose the Right Soil

If you are planting a new laurel you will find that it is a hardy plant for most types of soil. If you have particularly heavy or sandy ground, consider layering with compost to give your laurel the best chance at establishing. If your laurel is already well established, you may not be able to do much about the soil right away without damaging the root structure.

What you can do though is make amendments to the soil over the course of a few seasons – not ideal but worth it in the long run.

Fertilise

Like most plants, laurel will need to absorb nutrients in order for it to grow as vigorously as possible. The fertilisers that laurels need to grow are different depending on the stage of their growth. Rootgrow fertiliser works best for established laurels, but new, younger shrubs will prefer a natural organic fertiliser like Bonemeal. The best time to fertilise a Laurel is in spring. Calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium needs for the plant are at their lowest during this time. Plus, there is lots of rainfall to feed the tree. Fertilising once per year is sufficient for Lauraceae plants since they are evergreens or can withstand periods of drought without ill effects (due to many root systems).

If you have young shrubs using organic mulch around them helps retain moisture and provides trace elements that will not wash away with regular rains.

Prune

The laurel is a hardy and beautiful plant, but like any other living being on this planet, it needs care. One of the best ways to keep your hedge healthy and strong is by trimming off branches that are damaged or dead. Not only will trimming dead and damaged branches help your laurel grow faster but pruning into green growth every couple of months will help your laurel grow faster and thicker too. This may seem counterintuitive but pruning your laurel will encourage it to grow back bushier than before at an even faster rate. Just remember that if the laurel is budding, ensure that you prune around half an inch above the buds.

Note: It is best to use secateurs as using shears will damage the leaves which we do not want.

Pruned Laurel for Denser Foliage
Pruned Laurel for Denser Foliage

Water

Laurels are voracious drinkers and need a lot of water! A laurel can drink up to 1.5 litres of water per day and throughout the spring and summer months, they will need to be well watered. This of course is dependent on where you live and how dry the soil gets because rainfall varies depending on the area. Having a regular watering schedule during the drier months will certainly help your laurel grow faster.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend watering as below through spring & summer.

WhenSoil Type
Every 2 daysIf the soil is very dry and / or sandy
Every 4 daysIf the soil holds water
Every 6 daysIf the soil holds water and is in the shade
Laurel Watering Guide

Weed

One reason that your laurel may not be growing as fast as possible is that it may be competing with other plants, weeds etc. Being the big drinkers that they are, laurels that are competing with other plants are known to grow a little more slowly than they should.

To help your laurel grow faster, it is a good idea to ensure that the area around the base of the laurel is kept weed-free.

How to Thicken a Laurel Hedge?

Aside from the things mentioned above such as keeping your laurel pruned, and well-watered and providing ideal growing conditions, there are a few other things you can do to help thicken your laurel hedge:

Planting Density

When initially planting a laurel hedge or filling in gaps in an existing one, consider the spacing between plants. For a denser, quicker coverage, plant laurels closer together. Typically, planting them about 2 to 3 feet apart can result in a thicker hedge faster.

Pruning for Density

Regularly prune the laurel, especially during its formative years. Pruning encourages the plant to produce new lateral shoots, leading to bushier and denser growth. Lightly trim the tips of the branches rather than cutting back heavily.

Encourage Ground Shoots

Allow shoots that emerge from the base of the plant to grow. These ground-level shoots will contribute to the hedge’s overall density.

New Laurel Shoots After Pruning
New Laurel Shoots After Pruning

Where is Best to Plant My Laurel?

Laurels require rich, moist soil that is full of nutrients. Planting the tree in a place where it will be sheltered from strong winds is also important to its chances of survival. Laurel trees thrive and grow well in cool climates, out of direct sun exposure, and prefer sheltered spots with plenty of moisture – such as near streams or other water sources where they benefit from the constant flow of cool air from nearby.

Conclusion

Laurel can be a fantastic addition to your garden and provide beautiful, aromatic foliage as well as berries. One of the most important things you need to do is properly care for it so that it thrives in its location! To grow the best laurel, you should give it plenty of water and fertiliser as well as keep it from competing with weeds which will steal its nutrients – do not forget to prune regularly too. I hope you have found our post on how to make your laurel grow faster useful. The tips we have given here are just some things to think about when caring for your laurel plants but if you need more information or want help getting started then please contact us today!

How to Make Laurels Grow Faster Infographic

Garden Doctor Tips

“Do not over-fertilise, just once in the spring will be enough to promote healthy growth!”

“When pruning, make your cuts around ½ an inch above any new buds that may be growing!”

“Keep the base of your laurel weed-free so that it is not competing for nutrients with other plants!”

“Follow a regular watering schedule to ensure that your laurel has enough to drink – especially during the dry months!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Do laurels grow in shade?

Yes, but not as fast. Laurels grow in shade just as well as they do in full sunlight. However, shade-grown laurels will not get nearly the same rate of growth because they are getting less light and what light they do get is broken up by leaves and other objects further down the plant’s trunk.

Do laurels have deep roots?

Some laurels, as in the case of cherry laurels, do have deep roots. But if we are talking about your common variety from your local nursery or garden centre, then no… they do not.

Laurels are not considered to be deep-rooted plants, but this can vary depending on the variety and growing conditions. Though generally speaking it is thought that most laurel will develop their root system more superficially than other plants like a blackberry bush for example

Can laurels grow in pots?

Yes, many people prefer to grow their laurels in pots. With the right care and nutrition, laurels grown in pots will thrive.


Author

Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.


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