How fast does laurel grow?


Fast growing hedges for privacy

A fast growing hedge will increase privacy, while also adding texture and interest to your landscaping. Looking to turn your garden into a secluded oasis, or just block out your view of passing traffic? A fence or brick wall might offer an instant solution, but a lush green hedge will act as a natural and attractive screen.

Fast growing hedge plants – what are my options?

Cherry Laurel

One of the most popular choices for privacy hedging, the cherry laurel is extremely fast growing. Also known as common laurel, this evergreen species thrives in shadier conditions as well as in direct sunlight. Growth wise, you can expect about 60cm per year in average conditions. However, the cherry laurel can also be very toxic.

Bay Laurel

Valued among the Ancient Greeks, the bay laurel had strong associations with the god Apollo – and its leaves were even fashioned into wreaths for the victors of an early incarnation of the Olympic Games. Attractive and aromatic, today laurus nobilis is prized as a fast growing privacy hedge.

While the bay generally won’t grow as quickly as the cherry laurel – about 40cms a year is average – this can be a plus point once your hedge is fully established. If you’re able to be slightly more patient now, you may well be glad you did a few years down the line.


Once ubiquitous, privet has somewhat waned in popularity in recent years. However, if you’re seeking a more formal edge to your landscaping, it might well be what you’re looking for. Its dense growth will ensure privacy, and is ideal for shaping.

It’s also very fast growing – 30 to 60cm per year is to be expected, particularly if you use a plant feed – which means that it will need pruning several times a year to keep it under control and looking its best.


Almost as popular as the laurel, leylandii is a fast growing species that, with a little maintenance, will soon give you a dense protective screen to lend your garden the privacy you’re seeking. One of the fastest growing hedge plants, leylandii can grow up to 90cm in a year – so have those pruning shears at the ready!


If you’re looking for a hedging plant that will create a visual screen without taking up too much space, bamboo can be a surprisingly viable alternative. Golden bamboo or fountain bamboo will create a screening effect while also adding a lush and informal ambience to your landscaping. You can also purchase bamboo that has been formed into rolled screening ready for you to attach to posts.

Privacy hedge planting tips for fast growth

Autumn to early spring is the ideal time to plant your new Laurel or Leylandii hedge, although your task will be easier if you avoid periods of ground frost. Planting outside of this optimum time is still an option, although it will mean that you need to pay a little more attention to ensuring the roots don’t dry out.

It’s imperative to prepare the ground first. Ensure the area you’ll be planting in is thoroughly weeded six weeks earlier, then give the area another once over for new weed growth before you start. Finally, add some plant food at the same time as your new plants.

For speed, opt for more mature plants to start with. Hedge plants are usually sold as either bare root, root-balled or container/pot grown. While neither option is definitively superior, if you want to increase privacy in your garden quickly, container grown is the strongest option.

For Laurel and Leylandii, spacing plants at a distance of no less than 60cm is ideal. If you’re not so concerned about achieving a screening effect quickly, you can even afford to space out a little further up to 1 metre apart. Bamboo should be spaced according to the size of the particular species, but as a guide you’ll usually be aiming for 1 plant per 100-150cms. Privet should be planted closer together – 4 plants per metre is perfect. How deep you need to plant will depend on the size of the plants you’ve purchased – your supplier should be able to advise you on this.

Communication is the key

Finally, if you’re planting a privacy hedge along a shared border, considering having a friendly chat with your neighbour before you begin. Tall, dense hedges can block out natural light, so your neighbours may be concerned about this. Make a point of reassuring them that you’ll be keeping your new hedge maintained to a reasonable height over the years to come.

Some plants are glamorous from seed, some have glamour thrust upon them by the vagaries of fashion, but some plants would not be glamorous if you dressed them up as a Christmas tree and put them in high heels. They seem to be inevitably cast as an extra, used merely to flesh out a scene or two.

Clearly to qualify for this dubious honour it is no good being rare or perversely tricky to grow. There are a raft of dull plants that people work themselves into spasms of appreciation about simply because they are almost impossible to keep alive. But to be sent to horticultural Coventry you have to be tough and ubiquitous.

Portuguese laurel (Prunus lusitanica) falls neatly into this category. It works its anonymous way into most gardens sooner or later. This is odd because it is surprisingly expensive to buy. Nor is it particularly dull – if you look at it closely, it has a wonderful richness in the contrast between the two greens of the leaves and the plum intensity of the new stems and stalks. Two greens? Yes, dramatically so, because the young leaves start life folded in on themselves like barely opened pods, then grow through stages of rewound origami to open and flatten into a mature surface of constant glossy green. These leaves are a fine shape, curving away from the stem in a frozen trajectory, spiralling elegantly round the branch. The smoky crimson eventually hardens and matures to an unremarkable brown but is not lessened by its transience, and is anyway constantly replaced by new growth. It is solemnly beautiful in a way that a camellia, rhododendron or ‘proper’ laurel could not aspire to match.

And, if you do not prune it until after midsummer, it develops flowers that have a strangely accidental quality somewhere between bunting and fluff. Their scent hints at the laurel’s ancestry, because they have a hint of hawthorn, to which they are rather incredibly a cousin, both being members of the rose family. When you look at some of the sempervirens roses or Rosa banksiae , the family ties show faintly through. The flowers, completely unrose-like, in turn make berries that start out bright cherry red and wind up a glossy black. Game birds love them apparently, although I have yet to catch a pheasant scrumping for them in my own garden. They were often planted as cover on sporting estates in the last century with the happy upshot that in the milder parts of the country, like Cornwall, they have grown with rapacious vigour, forming astonishing jungles of cover.

My own belief is that in anything less than a Cornish valley garden, Portuguese laurel begs to be clipped and clipped hard. This could be in the form of a hedge but it is often better as a single specimen for larger pieces of topiary such as ‘lollipops’ or balls set at the top of a straight bare stem, especially on poor (particularly chalky) soil or in a shady position. This is hardly a wide-ranging remit but there are few gardens that cannot be improved by some topiarised lollipops. It can be grown in a container with almost criminal neglect but, as the Cornish examples show, will grow very fast if given water and decent soil. If you were ambitious and patient, it would make a genuinely large specimen and do so much faster than either yew or holly would, the only other two evergreens that could possibly achieve the same effect.

If you are looking for a laurel to train into a standard it is important not to confuse it with the cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). This was brought to the notice of the west by a French botanist, Pierre Belon, when he saw it in the Middle East. It is called the cherry laurel because the fruits look a little bit like cherries and the leaves look a little bit like the bay (Laurus nobilis). Call it any name you like but it has none of the charm of its Portuguese cousin. It is hard to think of it as a Mediterranean plant as it is fixed in my mind as the archetypal Victorian shrubbery tree and maker of countless gloomy hedges hiding gloomy suburban villas. One might think that it has little to recommend it other than its willingness to grow in almost total shade, but I can see that to the 16th- and 17th-century gardener this was a significant addition to the range of plants available to them. It is hard for us to imagine how limited their choice of plants were prior to the huge quantity of introductions in the 18th and 19th centuries. The only evergreens they could easily grow and shape were yew, box and holly. Laurel provided a robust evergreen with large leaves that would grow in almost any circumstances and was welcomed accordingly. Even in the late 18th century it was apparently used extensively as underplanting. Certainly at Stourhead we know that much of the intensive tree planting was underplanted with cherry laurel and that it was widely used to bulk out and infill the embryonic woodlands as they grew. This underplanting used as part of the fantastically ambitious landscaping schemes of the very rich gradually filtered down through the social classes and ended up as the dreadful shrubberies that increased the gloom of the Victorian middle classes. The Victorians also used laurel as part of their bedding schemes. They wanted evergreens to provide ‘interest’ over the winter months. So tough, dull, laurel was pressed into service.

If you do inherit one that is too big, I know from experience that they can be cut right back to the bare wood without harm. I cut down a vastly overgrown laurel hedge that lined the drive of my last house and it grew back from the stumps with almost manic vigour, and was eventually only halted by grubbing out with a JCB. But for all its inclination to thrive in gloom, the cherry laurel is not so tough or tolerant of thin soils as the Portuguese laurel.

But I have just discovered one fact about the cherry laurel that softens my dislike of it, which is that when you break the surface you can smell almonds. This is because it has prussic acid in it and this lead to it being used in insect-killing bottles.

There is also the lovely laurel story of the maze at Glendurgan, the National Trust garden in Cornwall, which needs cutting up to five times a year to keep its shape. To add entertainment to injury, the gardeners then have to collect up the cut leaves into baskets and retrace the maze all the winding way back to its entrance before they can be wheeled away.

There are also a number of variants on the basic laurel, such as the azorica which has broad leaves, the ‘Myrtifolia’ that has smaller leaves and the ‘Variegata’ that has variegated leaves. But I must confess that I can’t see much point in straying from the norm in this instance because the effect is to be had from the overall impression rather than the telling detail.

My roots: A week in Monty’s garden

The natural order of things has returned. The hens are laying again. This is a slight exaggeration as they have produced the grand total of three eggs in the last eight days, but this is a 300 per cent improvement on the previous three months, so celebrations are unconfined.

I am only half joking. The first eggs of spring don’t just seem a culinary treat as they are incomparably nicer to eat than any eggs you can buy, but they also have real significance for the garden. It sets the natural order of things straight. I have been pouring food into the birds for week after week, locking them up at night and letting them out first thing. And I’ve spent hours moving their fencing so that they can have fresh grass. I know that in the ideal organic scheme of things they would be earning their winter keep by charmingly working their way round the orchard, eating all the leather jackets and bugs, but they run as fast as their stumpy legs will carry them, straight to the newly planted hedges that have been painstakingly mulched, systematically working along the hedgeline and scattering the mulch into the long grass.

I have noticed that the ‘Ballard’s Group’ hellebores are much more prone to leaf blotch or black spot than the ordinary Helleborus orientalis . This is a real problem once it gets into the new growth. Whatever vernacular name you use to describe it, the cause is the fungus Coniothyrium hellebori which, like all fungi, likes our damp soil and high rainfall. Part of the problem is the growth of the trees around this area. So, after just six years, I had to saw back all the overhanging branches from the ashes, hollies, field maples, willows and crab apples that I planted specifically to create shelter in order to let in a little more light and air.

Before Christmas, I bought a bag of tulips from the local farm shop containing 200 ‘Queen of Sheba’ and 100 ‘White Triumphator’. The plan was to rush home and plant them immediately and not to worry if they came up a little late. I did the rushing home bit and did not think about them again until I discovered them in their bags in the potting shed, quietly sprouting. However, we have planted them all the same, just putting them in about an inch deep. Something might be salvaged. The truth is that this kind of careless neglect is not at all atypical. But let he who is without sloth and chaos cast the first rotten bulb.

Your roots

Don’t delay hedging any longer, and sow your sweet peas

It is becoming urgent that you get any deciduous trees and hedging material planted very soon so that the roots can establish before new growth appears above ground. If it is a hedge that you are planting, the importance of preparing the ground cannot be overstressed. A hedge planted into deeply dug, well-manured soil will grow at least twice as fast as one planted without any proper preparation. And don’t forget to water in any new plants well.

Sow sweet peas four or five to a pot and germinate on a window sill or in a green house. They can be put outside to harden off in a month or so and planted out at Easter.

If you have ground that you want to prepare for planting and are unable to dig it, buy some organic compost or spread manure thickly (at least 2in deep and preferably twice that) over the site and leave it. By the middle of spring the worms will have started to work it into the soil, which will have warmed up faster because of its blanket of muck. You can then either fork it in or simply plant through it. This is not as good as digging but is a good substitute.

Which Hedge? | Hedging Plants Explained

We sell many different types of hedging plants. If you are not sure which type of hedge to choose or the plant names just don’t mean anything to you, then the guide below will help you choose which hedging plants are best for your garden.

Most of the hedging plants we sell are fast growing and evergreen.

Leylandii (Green)

Other Common Names: Leyland Cypress, Leylandi, Conifer Hedging

Botanical Latin Names: x Cupressocyparis leylandii, x Cuprocyparis leylandii, Cupressus x leylandii

Speed of growth: up to 1 metre (3ft) per year

Why choose Leylandii

Fastest-growing hedging plant
Evergreen (keeps its leaves all year round)
Least expensive (cheapest) especially at heights over 4ft (120cm) tall
Hardy & wind tolerant
Available in larger sizes


Leylandii is a conifer that is the fastest –growing, evergreen, hedging plant and will create a hedge quickly. Because it is fast growing, it is generally the cheapest way of forming an evergreen garden hedge and hence the most popular.

If it is pruned every year, Leylandii will create a formal dark-green evergreen screen or box-shaped hedge, similar to a Yew hedge. Leylandii can be kept to any height as long as you trim it once or twice a year. We have kept a Leylandii Hedge 4ft tall for over 25 years. We trim the tops of most of our Leylandii Hedges twice a year and the sides once a year.

Leylandii is also very tolerant of wind and cold temperatures.

Other benefits of Leylandii hedging plants are:

Dense foliage acts as sound barrier
Best at filtering particulates (air pollution) from passing traffic

Soil types & growing conditions

Leylandii will grow in wet, heavy clay soils but not soils that become water-logged.
Leylandii will grow in full sun or partial shade.

Eventual height if left untrimmed:

Leylandii trees will grow very tall (over 30m or 100ft) if left untrimmed but like a Beech tree/hedge can be kept trimmed to heights as low as 1m (3ft) tall. Keeping it trimmed regularly will also mean the foliage stays dense down to ground level. If a hedge is allowed to grow too tall, especially where there is competition for nutrients and water from hedging plants planted together, it will often shed the lower leaves/needles. It is also much easier to trim a hedge that is kept to a reasonable height.

Hardiness: Hardy down to -25 to 30°C

Laurel Hedging

Other common names: Cherry Laurel, Common Laurel, English Laurel

Botanical Names: Prunus laurocerasus, Prunus laurocerasus ‘Rotundifolia’, Prunus laurocerasus ‘Novita’, Prunus laurocerasus ‘Caucasica’

Speed of growth under ideal conditions: up to 60cm (2ft) per year

Why choose Laurel Hedging Plants?

Fast-growing – the fastest growing hedging plant if you don’t want a conifer
Evergreen (keeps its leaves all year round)
Least expensive non-conifer hedging plant
The best hedging plant for shady sites
Tough & Hardy
Grows in most soils
Available in larger sizes

Laurel is the quickest growing evergreen hedging plant that isn’t a conifer, so if you don’t want a conifer hedge, Laurel is the quickest and cheapest way of creating an evergreen hedge. Laurels will also provide the most instant hedging as the taller sizes (4ft, 5ft and 6ft) are bushy and can often create an instant screen if planted close enough.

Laurel leaves are rounded, glossy and bright green leaves and look good all year round. They can be trimmed into formal box-shaped hedges or they can create a less formal looking hedge. You will need to trim a Laurel Hedge once a year. Laurel hedging plants will regenerate from old wood if they become overgrown.

Soil Types & growing conditions

Laurel hedging plants will grow in most soils except shallow chalky or very wet soils.

They will grow in the full sun or in shade as long as it is watered while it is establishing a root system. Laurel is often seen growing under trees in National Trust properties and is probably the best evergreen hedging plant for growing in the shade.

Eventual height if left untrimmed: up to 6m (18ft) tall

Hardiness: Hardy down to -20°C

For sizes and prices of the Laurel Hedging Plants we have available to buy, please .

Portugal Laurel

Other common names: Portuguese Laurel

Botanical Name: Prunus lusitanica, Prunus lusitanica ‘Angustifolia’, Prunus lusitanica ‘Myrtifolia’

Speed of growth under ideal conditions: 45cm (18in) per year

Why buy Portugal Laurel Hedging Plants?

Evergreen (keeps its leaves all year)
Neat & tidy formal appearance
Fragrant white flowers and attractive red stems
Available in larger sizes

Portugal Laurel has a dark green leaf that is much smaller than the leaf of Cherry Laurel. It is medium-fast growing although not quite as quick growing as Cherry Laurel. The stems of Portugal Laurel are red when young and this contrasts well with the dark green leaves. We mainly sell the smaller leaved form of Portugal Laurel hedging plants that looks very similar to Bay Laurel but is much hardier (will take much lower temperatures) than Bay Laurel. It forms an excellent evergreen garden hedge and can be kept to any shape or size. It is easy to maintain and keep it looking neat and tidy but it will regenerate from old wood if it does become overgrown.

Portugal Laurel hedging plants will grow in all free-draining soils (i.e. not waterlogged) including chalky soils and will grow in full sun or partial shade.

Prunus lusitanica ‘Angustifolia’ or ‘Myrtifolia’ (Smaller leaf) – up to 6m (18ft)

Leylandii Castlewellan Gold & Excalibur Gold

Common Names: Golden Leylandii, Golden Leyland Cypress, Golden Leylandi

Botanical Names: x Cupressocyparis leylandii ‘Castlewellan Gold’, x Cuprocyparis leylandii ‘Castlewellan’ or ‘Excalibur’

Speed of growth under ideal conditions:
Castlewellan Gold up to 75cm (2’6”) per year
Excalibur Gold up to 60cm (2’) per year

Why buy Leylandii Castlewellan or Excalibur Gold?

Fast-growing hedging plant
Evergreen (keep their leaves all year round)
Attractive Golden-yellow foliage
Tough & hardy
Available in larger sizes

Leylandii Castlewellan Gold is the most popular form of Golden Leylandii Hedging. It is fast growing so will form a hedge quickly. If it is trimmed every year, it will create a dense evergreen garden hedge that is bright yellowish-gold in the spring and summer. The golden colour turns a more lime-green in autumn and it can turn a bronze colour in a cold winter. As with the green leylandii, we recommend trimming the sides of a Castlewellan hedge once a year and the tops twice a year. Castlewellan Gold Leylandii is slightly slower growing than the Green Leylandii for this reason it is usually slightly more expensive than Green Leylandii for the equivalent height plant. It will grow in any soil except for water-logged soil.

Leylandii Excalibur Gold is very similar to Castlewellan Gold and most people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. It is slightly slower growing than Castlewellan Gold but as a result usually makes a slightly denser plant when grown in a pot. Once in the ground and trimmed as a hedge, the two types of Golden Leylandii are virtually identical.

Soil types & growing conditions

Golden Leylandii will grow in any free-draining (i.e. not waterlogged) soil in full sun or partial shade. The foliage will be more golden in full sun and pale green in shade.

Golden Leylandii Trees will grow up to 25m (75ft) or can be trimmed to the required height. The hedge in the picture is 1.2m (4ft) tall.

Hardiness: Hardy down to -25°C

Thuja plicata and Thuja occidentalis ‘Brabant’

Common Name: Western Red Cedar, Pacific Red Cedar, Western Arborvitae

Speed of growth under ideal conditions:

Thuja plicata up to 75cm (2’6”) per year
Thuja Brabant grows up to 60-75cm (2’-2’6″) per year

Why buy Thuja?

Fast-growing hedging plants
Evergreen hedging
Tough & Hardy
Available in larger sizes
Wind Tolerant
Can shoot from old wood

Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar) and Thuja ‘Brabant’ are fast-growing conifers that create an evergreen hedge. Thuja are extremely hardy and will tolerate strong winds. They grow in most soils (except for water-logged soils). Thuja plicata and especially Thuja Brabant tend to be a bit bushier than Leylandii in the pot or as a rootballed hedging plant (one dug straight from the ground) but they are slightly slower growing than Leylandii so are generally cost a little bit more for the equivalent height plant. Leylandii and Thuja will form a very similar, dense hedge although Thuja will sometimes shoot back from old wood. Thuja have aromatic, fruity foliage when brushed against. Keep them trimmed once a year to the height and width you need and they will form a fantastic field or garden hedge.

Thuja plicata tends to be slightly quicker growing and has a darker green foliage that turns bronze in cold winters or in windy locations.

Thuja occ. Brabant tends to be a paler green in colour than Thuja plicata

Thuja will grow in all soils except those that are waterlogged for long periods in winter.

up to 30m (100ft) or trim to the required height.

Thuja Emerald – The ultimate low-maintenance hedge or screen

Botanical Names: Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’, Thuja Emeraud

Common Name: Emerald Cedar, A form of Eastern or American Arborvitae

Speed of growth under ideal conditions: 30cm (1ft) per year

Why buy Thuja Emerald?

Low-maintenance hedging plant
Neat & tidy appearance
Tough & hardy
Good in containers or pots
Usually available in sizes up to 2m

Thuja Emerald is one of the best hedging plants if you do not want to trim the sides of your hedge. It keeps its neat cone-shape so you never need to trim the sides. Even if it is allowed to grow to its full height of 5-6m (15-18ft) tall, it is not very wide so is not over-bearing. If you want to stop it getting to its full height, then just trim the top once a year. Because Thuja Emerald does not bush out very much, it needs to be planted at closer than Leylandii or Laurel. We would recommend planting 50-75cm apart depending on how quickly you want the screen and how tall you are going to let the plants grow.

Thuja Emerald also makes an excellent specimen plant in lawns or flower beds.

Thuja hedging plants will grow in any soil except waterlogged.

up to 5-6m (15-18ft) or trim to the required height.

Griselinia littoralis

Botanical Name: Griselinia littoralis

Common Names: None

Speed of growth under ideal conditions: 45cm (18in) per year

Why buy Griselinia hedging plants?

Evergreen (these hedging plants keep their leaves all year round).
Attractive apple-green leaves
Good for coastal locations
Easy to maintain

Griselinia is a medium-fast growing, evergreen hedging plant that forms an excellent garden hedge. As it is tolerant of salt, it is good for coastal locations or for hedges near roads where gritters pass by in the winter.

Its leaves always looks a fresh ‘Granny-Smith’ apple-green, even in winter and it creates a dense hedge down to ground level.

Griselinia will take temperatures down to -13°C in sheltered sites and will grow in any free-draining soil. It will grow to 6m (18ft) tall if left untrimmed but it is easy to keep a Griselinia hedge as low as 90-120cm (3-4ft) tall by trimming once a year.

Griselinia will grow in any free-draining soil in full sun or partial shade.

up to 5-6m (15-18ft) or trim to the required height.

Hardiness: Hardy down to -13°C in sites sheltered from cold winds.

Photinia ‘Red Robin’

Common Name: Red Robin

Botanical Name: Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’

Speed of growth under ideal conditions: 60cm (2ft) per year

Why buy Photinia Red Robin?

Brilliant red young leaves especially in spring
Fast-growing hedging plant
Evergreen hedging (keeps its leaves, even in the winter)

Photinia Red Robin is a popular, fast-growing, evergreen hedging plant that makes an attractive garden hedge if it is pruned twice a year. It has bright red, young leaves in early spring and, if it is trimmed in late spring or early summer, it will produce more red shoots in summer.

Photinia needs to be trimmed regularly (twice a year) to keep it dense. Laurel, Portugal Laurel or Griselinia are much easier to keep dense.

Photinia Red Robin will grow in any free-draining soil.

up to 4-5m (12-15ft) or trim to the required height.

Hardiness: Hardy down to -15°C

Viburnum tinus

Common name: Laurustinus

Botanical Name: Viburnum tinus

Speed of growth under ideal conditions: 30 to 40cm (12 to 16in) per year

Why buy Viburnum tinus hedging plants?

Attractive white flowers all winter and spring
Evergreen hedging plant
Grows in sun or shade

Viburnum tinus is an evergreen hedging plant that forms a beautiful garden hedge with masses of pink white flowers from early winter until late spring. It is has a medium growth rate and so is slower growing than most of the other hedging plants we sell but if you are willing to wait, it will form a magnificent hedge. As it is slower growing, it is difficult to find and expensive to buy it in sizes of over 1 metre (3ft) tall. Will regenerate from old wood if it becomes overgrown.

Viburnum tinus are also one of the best hedging plants for shade but will also grow in full sun.

up to 3-4m (10-12ft) or trim to the required height.

For prices and sizes available, please call us on 01460 281265.

Box Hedging – Buxus sempervirens

Common Names: Box, Common Box, Boxwood, Buxus, European Box

Botanical Name: Buxus sempervirens

Speed of growth under ideal conditions: up to 20cm (8in) per year

Why buy Box hedging plants?

Good for formal ‘box’ hedging
Low maintenance
Makes a good small hedge
Shade tolerant hedging plants

Box is a slow-growing, evergreen hedging plant with small leaves. It is neat and compact in habit and makes a perfect small garden hedge. It has the benefit of being tolerant of shade but can suffer from Box Blight especially in damp conditions. Consider Yew as an alternative. Box will regenerate from old wood if it becomes overgrown.

Any free-draining soil in sun or shade.

4m (12ft) but can easily be trimmed to as low as 30cm (1ft) tall

For prices and sizes available, please call us on 01460 281265.


Common Names: Firethorn

Botanical Names: Pyracantha

Speed of growth under ideal conditions: up to 60cm (2ft) per year

Why buy Pyracantha hedging plants?

Good for security due to large thorns
Evergreen hedging (keeps its leaves, even in winter)
White flowers
Bright Yellow, Orange or Red berries

A quick-growing evergreen hedging plant that has white hawthorn-like flowers in early summer and bright orange or red berries in autumn and winter. Large thorns on the branches make it any excellent choice as a security barrier up to 3m tall.

Any free-draining soil in sun or partial shade.

Eventual height if left untrimmed: 3m (10ft) but can be trimmed to any height

Hardiness: Hardy down to -15 to 20°C

Native Hedging Plants | Mixed Native hedging

Native hedging plants include Beech, Hornbeam, Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Hazel, Field Maple, Dogwood, Spindle and Guelder Rose. Most Native hedging is planted as small bare-root ‘whips’ during the winter months. These are usually single stem seedlings that are around 60-80cm (2-3ft) tall and are available in our Garden Centre from mid November until March. Cell-grown transplants can be planted from April to October.

Beech and Hornbeam hedging plants are normally planted on their own as a single species often around gardens whereas mixed native, field-hedging is normally a mixture of different species including Hawthorn, Blackthorn, Field Maple, Hazel, Dogwood, Spindle and Guelder Rose.

Most native hedging plants are deciduous (i.e. they lose their leaves in winter) with the exception of Holly (Ilex).

We grow a limited selection of larger sizes of container-grown Beech and Hornbeam hedging plants that can be planted at any time of year and we are expanding the range so watch this space or give us a call on 01460 281265 to see what we have available.

Beech – Fagus sylvatica

Common Names: Common Beech, Green Beech, European Beech

Botanical Name: Fagus sylvatica

Speed of growth under ideal conditions: 30-60cm (1’-2’) per year

Why buy Beech hedging plants?

Fresh green leaves every spring
Golden-brown leaves in winter
Creates a neat, formal box-shaped hedge
Grows on chalky soils

Beech is a deciduous tree that makes an excellent formal garden hedge. It has fresh green leaves in early spring and although it is deciduous (i.e. not evergreen), it often keeps the golden-brown leaves in the winter months providing some screening. Beech is very hardy but will not grow in wet or heavy clay soils – for these use Hornbeam instead.

Any well-drained soil that is not wet over the winter months. If you have a heavy clay soil, then grow Hornbeam instead. Full sun or partial shade.

Eventual height if left untrimmed:

>25m (80ft) but can be kept trimmed to any size.

For prices and sizes available, please .


Common Names: Hornbeam, Common Hornbeam, European Hornbeam, Horn Beech, Horse Beech

Botanical Name: Carpinus betulus

Speed of growth under ideal conditions: 30-60cm (1-2ft) per year

Why buy Hornbeam hedging plants?

A good hedging plant for heavy clay soils
Attractive green serrated leaves
Creates a neat & tidy formal hedge
Hardy & Tough

Hornbeam is a native to the UK and creates a wonderful formal hedge if pruned regularly. It is very similar to Beech in appearance but has the benefit of growing in heavy clay and will tolerate wetter soils than Beech. It is deciduous but usually holds on to some of its leaves that turn brown in winter.

Hornbeam hedging plants will grow in most soils including heavy clay. They are very hardy and will tolerate windy sites (although not coastal exposure). Grows in full sun or partial shade

>25m (75ft) or trim to required height

Hardiness: Hardy down to -25 to -30°C

For prices and sizes available, please

Holly – Ilex

Common Names: English Holly, Common Holly

Botanical Name: Ilex aquifolium, Ilex aquifolium ‘Alaska’

Speed of growth under ideal conditions: 30cm (1ft) per year

Why buy Holly hedging plants?

Glossy green leaves
Red berries in winter
Prickly leaves for security

An excellent evergreen hedging plant that has glossy, dark green, prickly leaves and red berries in the early winter. Good as an intruder deterrent. Low maintenance as it is slower growing. Holly clips well to create a dense, formal garden or field hedge and will regenerate from old wood if you need to cut it back.

Holly hedging plants will grow in any free-draining soil in full sun or light shade. Holly will grow in sheltered or exposed sites.

>25m (80ft) but can easily be kept trimmed.

We tend to have more Holly available in the winter months as it can be dug straight from the field. For prices and sizes available, please call us on 01460 281265.

SelecTree: Tree Detail

General Notes

Carolina Laurel Cherry is grown as an evergreen shrub or tree standard, favored for its shiny green foliage. However, the flower and fruit litter is a problem in paved areas, and it may reseed unwantedly. It withstands heat, dryness and wind, and is quite durable once established. Variety Compacta generally grows 8-10′ tall. It may require regularly scheduled light top-trimming (but not necessarily shearing) of vigorous top shoots to maintain its height below 25′.

Has fragrant Flower.

Native to Southeastern United States.

Family: Rosaceae

Additional Common Names


Tree Characteristics

Compact and Erect or Spreading with a Low Canopy.

Conical or Oval Shape.

Has Evergreen foliage.

Height: 20 – 30 feet.

Width: 15 – 25 feet.

Growth Rate: 36 Inches per Year.

Longevity 50 to 150 years.

Leaves Lanceolate to Oblong, Glossy Medium Green, No Change, Evergreen.

Flowers Showy. Fragrant White. Flowers in Spring or Winter. Has perfect flowers (male and female parts in each flower).

Black Drupe, Small (0.25 – 0.50 inches), fruiting in Winter, Spring or Summer.

Bark Dark Gray or Light Gray, Smooth.

Shading Capacity Rated as Dense in Leaf.

Litter Issue is Flowers and Wet Fruit.


The cherry laurels of the genus Prunus will be discussed in detail. Laurel or sweet bay (Laurus nobilis) and mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) are briefly mentioned.

Cherry Laurel or English Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)

Mature Height/Spread: This evergreen, broadleaf shrub can grow to 20 feet but is generally kept smaller in the home landscape. The spread is 6 to 10 feet. The leathery, glossy, dark green leaves are 3 to 7 inches long and 1½ to 2 inches wide. Cherry laurel blooms in mid spring and has white flowers, which are often hidden by the leaves. Small black fruits appear in the fall.

Cherry laurel flower spikes.
Joey Williamson, ©2007 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Growth Rate: Cherry laurel is a fast-growing plant. It grows 25 inches or more per year.

Landscape Use: Suggested uses for this plant include hedges and groupings. It is very popular in the South.

Cultivation: Cherry laurels perform best in moist, well-drained soil supplemented with organic matter. Plant in partial shade to full sun. This plant tolerates salt spray and heavy shearing. Avoid excessive fertilization.

Problems: Cherry laurel is more disease- and insect-resistant than other Prunus species, but root rot can be a problem if the shrub is planted in a wet location. A fungal or bacterial disease called “shot hole,” produces purple to reddish leaf spots. The spots drop out, leaving circular holes in the leaf. Mild, wet summer weather promotes this leaf spot. Avoid overhead watering. The fungus Botryosphaeria causes limb dieback.

Cultivars & Varieties

‘Otto Luyken’ grows 3 to 4 feet high and 5 to 7 feet wide. The foliage is glossy, dark green, the flowers are white, and the fruit is black.

‘Schipka laurel’ (Schipkaensis) is a spreading shrub, 4 to 5 feet tall and 5 to 8 feet wide with dark green foliage, white flowers and black fruit. This shrub has a refined appearance and is hardy and vigorous in habit of growth.

‘Zabel laurel’ (Zabeliana) is a narrow-leafed cultivar with branches angling upward and outward (5 to 8 feet) from the plant base. The shrub grows 5 to 6 feet in height and is more tolerant of full sun than the species.

Flowers and foliage of Carolina cherry laurel. Chris Evans, River to River CWMA,

Carolina Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana)

Carolina cherry laurel can reach 35 to 40 feet with multiple trunks. Often it is used as a clipped hedge or tall screen to 20 feet high. The densely leaved plant has glossy green leaves, which are 2 to 4 inches long. Small, white flowers appear in late winter or spring, followed by black fruit almost the size of blueberries. This shrub is tolerant of heat and drought.

Portugal Laurel (Prunus lusitanica)

Portugal laurel is a densely branched shrub, 10 to 20 feet tall, or a multitrunked, spreading tree up to 30 feet tall. When trained to a single trunk, it is used as a formal street tree. The glossy, dark green leaves are 5 inches long by 2 inches wide. Small, white flowers in 5- to 10-inch spikes appear in spring and early summer, followed by clusters of tiny, red to dark purple fruit. Portugal laurel is slower growing than cherry laurel, but more tolerant of heat, sun, wind and drought.

Glossy, evergreen leaves of Portugal laurel.
Karen Russ, ©2007 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Laurel or Sweet Bay (Laurus nobilis)

This attractive, evergreen tree grows 10 to 12 feet with a spread of 8 to 10 feet. The thick, leathery, dark green leaves are 2 to 4 inches long and 1 inch wide, with wavy margins. The greenish-yellow flowers are without petals and not very ornamental. The bark is gray, and the fruit is a black berry.

Upright form of sweet bay.
Karen Russ, ©2008 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Bay trees grow slowly. They prefer full sun to light shade and fertile, well-drained soil. They can be used as topiary, hedge or screen. Bay leaves can be harvested and dried throughout the year. This ancient and famous plant may not survive winter in the Upstate, but it grows well in the Coastal Plain. Bay trees are susceptible to white wax scale, which makes the leaves sooty and retards leaf growth.

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

This broadleaf evergreen shrub grows to a height of 12 to 15 feet and spreads to 12 feet. The growth rate is less than 12 inches a year. Mountain laurel requires an acid, well-aerated soil. It tolerates shade, but some exposure to sun is required for proper flower color development of red and pink cultivars. The foliage is thick and leathery with a dark green color at maturity.

White flowered mountain laurel.
Joey Williamson, ©2008 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Mountain laurel is native to dry rocky woodlands, slopes and streambanks from Florida to Canada. This shrub can be used in borders, foundation plantings, screen, massing and as a specimen plant. Mountain laurel’s cultural requirements are similar to those of rhododendron and azalea, so they can be grown together.

‘Fuscata’ mountain laurel flowers.
The Dow Gardens Archive, Dow Gardens,

Mountain laurel is susceptible to scale insects, lacebug, whitefly and borers. Cercospora leaf spot is found on almost all mountain laurels. This fungus causes irregular to circular spots on the leaves of mountain laurel throughout the Appalachian region. Severe infection seems to stunt plant growth and suppress flowering, particularly on plants growing in moist, shady places. The spots are 2 to 4 inches across, at first medium to dark brown on both surfaces, but fading to grayish brown in the center of the upper surface. The margin remains dark brown to purplish brown.

Cherry Laurel Hedging Plants


This is the time of the year when we get so many enquiries about hedging plants. Those of you who regularly read our blog will know that hedging and evergreen screening is one of our top specialities. And we have lots of choice to offer of course – in a wide variety of sizes, whether you are looking for an instant evergreen screen or are prepared to be a little more patient while your hedge grows.

One of our favourite hedging plants and one of the most popular with our customers is Cherry Laurel Hedging (Prunus Laurocerasus). Take a look at this lovely specimen – a gorgeous cherry Laurel hedge growing along a north-facing wall. Neatly clipped, this lovely, dense Cherry Laurel hedge creates a luscious wall of green and gives absolute privacy. This particular hedge is about 3.5 metres tall, but it could grow to 4.0 Metres if desired. It is around half a metre wide.

Cherry Laurel Hedging – circa 3.5 metres tall

Cherry Laurel Hedge – luxuriant foliage close up

Cherry Laurel Hedging looks good all year round. It is evergreen with a nice dense growing habit and it reacts very well to pruning and trimming. As you can see, it does not show any woody bits, unlike many other hedges. Surprising as it may seem, this hedge does not require a lot of maintenance – it just needs to be trimmed no more than twice year.

Our Offers on Cherry Laurel Hedging Plants:
These cherry laurel hedging plants have been grown especially with hedging in mind.

Offer 1 – 1.4 – 1.6 Metre tall Cherry Laurel Hedging Plants in a wide and bushy shape, now only £24 each. If you have a large area to cover, Buy 50 plants in this size for only £1,000

Offer 2 – If you prefer larger sizes so you don’t need to wait so long for your hedge, we have 1.75 Metre tall Cherry Laurel Hedging Plants – also wide and bushy shape:
Buy 10 plants for only £720

Looking for something bigger?
We also have 2.0 Metre tall Cherry Laurel Hedging Plants. Again, these Cherry Laurels are a nice bushy shape – a real substantial size to help get your cherry laurel hedge off to a flying start.
Buy this size Cherry Laurel for £85 each

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED Cherry Laurel Etna ?
One of the most ornamental varieties of Laurel. Cherry Laurel Etna has all the excellent hedging characteristics of the Cherry Laurel but with the added benefits of very attractive foliage (new shoots are red), a profuse bloomer (tiny white powerfully aromatic flowers) and an even more compact growing habit than Cherry Laurel. We have Cherry Laurel Etna now available as rootballed plants (not containerised) offering really excellent value for money.

Offer 3 – 1.75 Metre tall Cherry Laurel Etna (rootballed not potted) in a wide and bushy shape:
Buy 10 plants for only £660

Offer 4 – 2.0 Metre tall Cherry Laurel Etna (rootballed not potted) in a wide and bushy shape:
Buy 10 plants for only £950

Cherry Laurel Etna Hedging – left to right: 2.0 Metre tall; 1.75 Metre tall and 1.5 Metre tall sizes

Lots more hedging on the website! All our hedging plants are available to buy online. We delivery UK wide.

Prunus caroliniana

  • Attributes: Genus: Prunus Species: caroliniana Family: Rosaceae Life Cycle: Woody Recommended Propagation Strategy: Seed Stem Cutting Country Or Region Of Origin: Northern America Fire Risk Rating: medium flammability Wildlife Value: Provides winter and extreme weather cover . Host plant for Coral Hairstreak, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple, Spring/Summer Azures, and Viceroy butterflies. Adult butterflies nectar from the spring flowers. Fruits are eaten by songbirds, wild turkeys, quail, raccoons, foxes, and small mammals. White-tailed deer browse foliage. Play Value: Wildlife Cover/Habitat Wildlife Food Source Wildlife Larval Host Dimensions: Height: 15 ft. 0 in. – 35 ft. 0 in. Width: 15 ft. 0 in. – 20 ft. 0 in.

  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Native Plant Poisonous Shrub Tree Leaf Characteristics: Broadleaf Evergreen Habit/Form: Dense Pyramidal Rounded Growth Rate: Rapid Texture: Medium
  • Fruit: Fruit Color: Black Green Fruit Value To Gardener: Showy Display/Harvest Time: Fall Fruit Type: Drupe Fruit Length: < 1 inch Fruit Width: < 1 inch Fruit Description: Green drupes that mature lustrous, dark black, ovoid subglobose, and are less than an inch in diameter. They mature with a large pith (stone).
  • Flowers: Flower Color: White Flower Inflorescence: Raceme Flower Value To Gardener: Fragrant Good Cut Showy Flower Bloom Time: Spring Flower Petals: 4-5 petals/rays Flower Size: < 1 inch Flower Description: The Carolina Laurel Cherry has fragrant, small white flowers (each to 5/16″ across) that bloom in dense, short, axillary racemes (1″ long) in late winter to early spring (February to April) and are somewhat inconspicuous amongst the leaves.
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Broadleaf Evergreen Leaf Color: Green Leaf Feel: Glossy Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Shape: Elliptical Lanceolate Oblong Leaf Margin: Entire Serrate Hairs Present: No Leaf Length: 1-3 inches Leaf Width: 1-3 inches Leaf Description: Leaves are 2-3″ long, alternate, simple, glossy, oblong to oblong-elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate, acute, cuneate to broad cuneate, entire as adult, spinose-serrate as seedlings, and are lustrous dark green at maturity. Leaves have pointed tips. The lower surface bears a pare of small glands near the base of the blade near the margins, and are reticulate below.
  • Bark: Bark Color: Light Brown Light Gray Red/Burgundy Surface/Attachment: Lenticels Patchy Smooth Bark Description: The bark is smooth and gray to reddish brown with numerous lenticels. Develops gray patches and splits with age.
  • Stem: Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Lenticels: Conspicuous
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Coastal Naturalized Area Riparian Woodland Landscape Theme: Butterfly Garden Native Garden Pollinator Garden Design Feature: Flowering Tree Foundation Planting Hedge Mass Planting Attracts: Butterflies Pollinators Songbirds Resistance To Challenges: Deer Drought Salt Problems: Poisonous to Humans Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans: Poison Severity: High Poison Symptoms: Gasping, weakness, excitement, pupil dilation, spasms, convulsions, coma, respiratory failure Poison Toxic Principle: Cyanogenic glycoside, amygdalin Causes Contact Dermatitis: No Poison Part: Leaves Seeds Stems

Cherry Laurel, Prunus laurocerasus: Common Laurel

Cherry laurel is a handsome evergreen shrub that will tolerate shade and produces dainty white sweet-smelling flowers in spring. It is fast-growing and lures birds with its cherry-like red fruits, which turn black in maturity. Certainly this plant can be an attractive and useful addition to the landscape, but before you bring one home from the nursery, consider its less endearing characteristics. Remember the trusting small girl in the folk tale Little Red Riding Hood who meets and is eaten by a wolf disguised as her ailing grandmother? The gardener would be wise to be skeptical of the cherry laurel’s seemingly benign appearance and behavior.

Read on for everything you need to know about this rather hardy shrub, Prunus laurocerasus.

Above: Cherry laurel has white flowering spikes in spring. Photograph by Sebastian Rittau via Flickr.

One thing to know about Prunus laurocerasus (which emits the pleasing fragrance of almonds when its leaves are crushed), is that it contains hydrogen cyanide, a poison. If ingested in large amounts, hydrogen cyanide can deplete the nervous system of oxygen and, in rare cases, even cause death. According to the website The Poison Garden entomologists once used crushed cherry laurel leaves to kill insect specimens without causing visible damage. People have reported ill effects from inhaling the fumes emitted by chipped branches pruned from the plant. Unwitting chefs have apparently sickened diners by confusing cherry laurel leaves with the culinary seasoning bay leaves, which are from a totally different plant, Laurus nobilis.

Above: At gardener Silas Mountier’s home, “imposing hornbeam uprights create tall drama above the shorn arcs of boxwood and cherry laurel hedges, on either side of an undeviating bluestone path,” writes contributor Marie Viljoen. See more at Garden Visit: At Home with Silas Mountsier in New Jersey. Photograph by Marie Viljoen.

Aside from its toxicity, the other potentially undesirable trait of cherry laurel, which is native to southwest Asia and southeast Europe, is a tendency for invasive growth. This is particularly true in the Pacific Northwest where the damp climate suits this easily spread shrub. Cherry laurel moves into forests, parks, and other natural areas to produce dense growth that can shade out native plants.

Above: Prunus laurocerasus by Leonora Enking via Flickr.

If you are prepared to keep this shrub under control and prevent pets and people from eating it (perhaps by planting it away from high traffic areas in the garden), then feel free to add Prunus laurocerasus to your garden where its talent for vigorous expansion, tolerance of shade, and distinctive appearance can solve all sorts of landscaping dilemmas.

Cheat Sheet

  • Approximately 40 diverse cultivars provide plenty of choices for many uses including hedges and screens as well as bushy ground covers.
  • Cherry laurel is a salt- and pollution-tolerant shrub.
  • Butterflies, bees, and birds are attracted to this plant.
  • Prunus laurocerasus is spread by suckering from the root system and by seeds which are frequently widely dispersed by birds who eat the fruit.

Above: Cherry laurel, blooming in Berlin. Photograph by Sebastian Rittau via Flickr.

Keep It Alive

  • Plant cherry laurel in moist soil rich in organic matter in USDA zones 5 to 9.
  • Good drainage is essential to the survival of this plant.
  • It tolerates all sorts of light conditions from full sun to partial and even full shade, preferring more sun in cool climates and more shade in warmer areas.
  • Water your cherry laurel enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
  • Prune this plant in late spring or early summer after it blooms.

Above: Cherry laurel fruit at Cardiff Reservoirs in the UK. Photograph by Dr. Mary Gillham Archive Project via Flickr.

The straight species of Prunus laurocerasus tends to be extremely large (up to 25 feet tall and 30 feet wide) and can easily be given a tree-like form by progressively pruning away the lower branches as the shrub grows taller. Gardeners looking for less massive plants should investigate some of the many cultivars which are widely available.

Above: In a front garden, plants edging a path of paver stones include Berberis thunbergii ‘Crimson Pygmy’, Spiraea japonica ‘Gold Mound’, Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Luykens’, and Spiraea bumalda ‘Limemound’. Photograph by Peter Stevens via Flickr.

Here’s our list of some of the best varieties of cherry laurel.

‘Otto Luyken’ is quite compact, growing three to four feet high with a six-to-eight-foot spread. It makes a manageably sized hedge or screen and is free-flowering, which means it will bloom throughout the growing season (not just for a couple of weeks in the spring).

‘Schipkaensis’ is a spreading shrub growing five to 10 feet tall. It gets its name from the Schipka mountain pass in Bulgaria where it was discovered. Its form is upright and wide with narrow glossy leaves that are smaller than those of the species. It is particularly useful as a fast-growing large hedge.

‘Zabeliana’ or Zabel’s cherry laurel is a low (four feet high with a 12-foot spread) and slow-growing variety useful in small gardens as a ground cover on shady slopes or along a shaded wall or fence. This cultivar is quite cold hardy and has extremely narrow leaves. If you want to use it as a hedge, experts recommend pruning it twice a year (in early spring and then again in early autumn) to keep its tendency to spread horizontally under control.

Read more design and care tips at Cherry Laurels: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design and get ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for more of our favorite shrubs and hedges with our Shrubs: A Field Guide. To see how mature shrubs might look in your garden, read:

  • Landscape Ideas: Blazing Color with Red Twig Dogwood, 5 Ways
  • Azaleas 101: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.
  • 10 Garden Ideas to Steal from Instagrammers
  • Winter Enchantment: 9 Best Witch Hazels for a Luminous Garden
  • 10 Best Garden Design Ideas for 2018
  • Rhododendrons 101: A Field Guide

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