Also known by the Latin Prunus laurocerasus, Cherry Laurel is an evergreen shrub with glossy dark green leaves. Strangely, Cherry Laurel isn’t a true Laurel and actually comes from the prunus genus. It gets its name from its resemblance to both Bay Laurel and the Cherry Tree, as its leaves and fruit are similar in appearance.
Cherry Laurel hedging provides year-round interest for humans and wildlife. In spring, it produces racemes of small creamy-white flowers with a delicate sweet fragrance. These are a magnet for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
The flowers are followed by shiny dark red fruits that appear in autumn. The colour of the cherry-like berries changes to near black as the winter comes in, and they’re a valuable food source for birds and small mammals.
Cherry Laurel is dense, easy to grow and spreads quickly, making it one of the country’s most popular hedging plants. This shrub is sometimes called Common Laurel or English Laurel, but all three common names refer to the same plant.
When to Plant Cherry Laurel Hedges
The right time to plant a Cherry Laurel shrub largely depends on how your plants are delivered. Pot-grown and bare root or root ball plants should be treated a little differently.
If your Cherry Laurel plants are cell-grown (grown in containers) and have been supplied in their pots, you can plant them out at any time of year. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that shrubs planted during the growing season need to be watered much more frequently than those planted between late autumn and early spring.
Bare Root and Root Ball Plants
Bare Root plants are grown in the ground and removed during their dormant phase. Any soil is carefully brushed away, leaving the root system bare and ready to be transplanted into a new setting.
Similar to bare root, root ball plants have been grown in the ground and dug up to be delivered. The difference is that root ball plants keep the soil around their roots. The whole thing is enveloped in a biodegradable bag that can be transferred into the plant’s final position.
The best time of year to plant bare root and root ball Cherry Laurels is during the dormant season from November to March, when the plant isn’t growing.
How Long does Cherry Laurel Take to Grow?
Cherry Laurel typically grows between 30 and 60cm per year, which is relatively fast. It has an ultimate height of up to 8 metres. If left untrimmed, the hedging will reach this height in around 20-50 years.
The shrubs can spread up to around 8m, so you need to take this into account when planting. Place Laurel plants in the ground with spacing of around half a metre between them.
The fast pace of Cherry Laurel’s growth makes it ideal for providing screening from view and shelter from winds. A dense hedge can be grown quite quickly.
How to Care for Cherry Laurel
Laurel is tolerant of most soil types but may not thrive in chalky or water-logged soils. It prefers a spot in full sun or partial shade, and providing these conditions will help it grow faster.
Being an evergreen plant, Cherry Laurel doesn’t require a huge amount of maintenance to remain healthy in appearance. Its fast growth rate means it does need regular trimming to stop it from becoming a nuisance, but no more than you would trim other plants. General hedge trimming twice a year is plenty to maintain the size and shape of your Laurel hedges.
Cherry Laurel is hardy and can withstand pretty much any weather that Great British winters throw at it.
Can I Speed Up Cherry Laurel Growth?
If you’re looking to grow a thick hedge quickly, you might want to help hurry growth along a little. The best way to ensure your Cherry Laurel plants grow as fast as possible is to care for them well.
If you’d like your Cherry Laurel hedging plants to grow a little faster, try feeding them with high-quality fertiliser. Both new and established plants will benefit from the added nutrients, which promotes healthy growth.
It may sound counterproductive, but regular pruning is essential for encouraging fresh new growth in Cherry Laurels. Use secateurs to prune Laurel and remove any dead or damaged branches, twigs and leaves. Garden shears or loppers can be used for the hard pruning of mature hedges. Pruning in late spring or early summer will result in a thicker, bushier Cherry Laurel shrub.
How Tall Should I Let My Hedge Plants Grow?
As above, Cherry Laurel hedging plants can reach an impressive eventual height. However, they are easier to care for if trimmed down to a manageable size. They cope well with pruning and are attractive when trimmed into a neat shape.
A Cherry Laurel left without pruning will eventually grow into a tree shape, rather than a bushy hedge. For this reason, we recommend maintaining your Cherry Laurel hedging at around 1.5-2m tall. This is plenty of height for screening purposes but stops your hedges getting out of control.
There’s a reason why Cherry Laurel is one of the most popular hedge plants in the UK. Whether you’re looking to grow a feature hedge for aesthetics or a dense hedge for privacy and shelter, the Cherry Laurel is perfect. It is a fast-growing shrub with evergreen foliage and lush leaves. Put together, these qualities create a classic-looking hedge that is easy to maintain.