Mountain Laurel is an evergreen shrub native to the eastern half of the United States and prefers well drained, but moist and fertile soil. The root system of Mountain Laurel is fairly shallow and will dry out quickly if not established well. Practicing proper watering techniques when first planting this evergreen shrub will make Mountain Laurel much more resilient and able to tolerate short periods of drought with little supplemental irrigation.
How to Tell if Mountain Laurel Needs Watering
Broadleaf evergreens tend to show the effects of over-watering and under-watering in the same way: yellowing, droopy and curled leaves. They are more likely to be over-watered than under-watered, especially in the first couple of years. When the top 2 inches of soil are dry is a good indication that Mountain Laurel needs to be watered. Broadleaf evergreens naturally shed older leaves as they grow and in itself is not an indication that watering is needed.
How Often to Water Mountain Laurel
Watering needs to be consistent when first planting Mountain Laurel. One to two inches of water a week, broken into 2 or 3 long watering sessions will help the roots establish deep in the soil. As the shrub matures over the next year, the watering can be reduced to 1 inch a week, once a week delivered slowly with a soaker hose or drip irrigation. Even though this is a native plant, extra irrigation is normally needed unless the soil is mulched well to retain moisture. Watering once every 10-14 days will keep mature Mountain Laurel hydrated well.
Over-watering is more often an issue when the plants are young. Watering little and often will encourage Mountain Laurel to form roots that are too shallow, and dry out easily in the summer. Long infrequent watering allows the roots to grow deep and seek out moisture at lower levels of the soil.
Potted Mountain Laurel will need much more watering, even after they have matured. Make sure to have excellent drainage in any container you choose to use. Water the pot gently with as much water as it takes to run out the bottom of the pot. This ensures that the soil is damp all of the way to the bottom of the container and also helps to flush out any excess fertilizer residue that builds up in the soil.
Best Time to Water Mountain Laurel
Watering any plant during the early morning when the soil may be cooler and/or still slightly damp with dew is the most beneficial time. The soil will easily absorb water and the plant will have the whole day to dry off if overhead watering is done. Mountain Laurel can be susceptible to fungal leaf spot which is spread through overhead watering of affected leaves.
Watering of garden planted Mountain Laurel is rarely necessary during the late fall and winter months. The frequency of additional watering needs to be slowed down in September and ideally stopped the beginning of October in the colder USDA hardiness zones. This technique will help the root system to harden off before winter.
How to Water Mountain Laurel
Step 1 - Check to see if the top 2-3 inches of soil is dry. If it is, proceed to watering.
Step 2 - Soak the root zone of the shrub with drip irrigation or a soaker hose until ½ - 1 inch of water has been applied.
Step 3 - Water container grown Mountain Laurel until water runs out of the bottom of the pot.
Mountain Laurel Watering Tips
- Long, deep watering sessions once a week are more beneficial than short, frequent watering sessions
- Native plant that will still require additional moisture through the summer months in most hardiness zones
- Using drip irrigation or soaker hoses to keep the leaves dry will prevent the spread of fungal disease
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