Mountain laurel is a gorgeous species of flowering shrub which may prove difficult to propagate. However, with time and patience, propagation is feasible and more rewarding than simply buying a shrub from the nursery. This article will describe how to propagate the mountain laurel shrub using seed propagation and propagation from cuttings.
Seed Propagation of the Mountain Laurel
Since the mountain laurel’s seeds are extremely petite and the seedlings are slow to grow at first, growing the shrub from seed is a time consuming process. It takes daily monitoring paired with patients in order to get the seeds to germinate and begin to grow. For this reason, it is best to keep these plants in containers until they are mature enough to survive in nature.
Step 1- Prepare the Containers
Begin by acquiring 4 or 5 small pots; they should be between three and six inches in height. Fill the bottom half of each pot with gravel; gravel aids in drainage. Fill the remaining space in the pot with a reliable potting soil. It is best to choose an organic potting soil that has good drainage, but enough pearlite to retain some moisture.
Step 2- Plant the Seeds
Before planting your seeds, make sure that the soil in your containers is moist; it should not be sopping wet, but it does need to be damp. Plant 5 or 6 seeds in each of your containers and cover the seeds with a light dusting of potting soil. Cover the top of each pot with a layer of plastic wrap; this will increase the humidity and retain moisture and hasten germination. Place the pots in a place where they will receive at least five hours of sunlight daily.
Step 3- Daily Maintenance
The top of the soil containing the mountain laurel seeds should be moistened daily using a mister. After misting, replace the plastic wrap and return the pots to their original position. The pots may need to be watered occasionally when the mister cannot penetrate far enough into the soil. The seeds should sprout within three weeks at which time you should continue the same procedure except without the plastic wrap.
Step 4- Container Progression
The seedlings in each container will have to be thinned down after they have grown for several weeks. Eliminate all but the strongest seedling when they are 3 inches tall. By this time, the seedlings are still fragile but are somewhat established. Continue with daily misting and monthly fertilizing for another 8 months. After 8 months, the seedlings should be transplanted into a larger container for another year until moving out into the garden.
Propagation from Cuttings for Mountain Laurel:
- Take a 6 inch long cutting from a place where two stems meet on an established mountain laurel. Immediately place the cutting in warm water.
- Prepare a 4 inch container in the same way as described above before dipping the cut end of the cutting in rooting hormone and placing it in a container.
- Cover the container with plastic wrap and mist daily; the cutting should root in 4 to 6 weeks. After it has rooted, you may remove the plastic wrap and raise it as if it were a seedling.