Whether you’re planting a new spotted laurel or taking care of an old one, it’s important to know the necessary maintenance steps. While these plants can manage cold winters and warm summers, they can develop rot, droopy leaves, blackened tips, and many other issues.
To take care of a spotted laurel, ensure there’s at least 3’ between the closest plant, then water the laurel once per week. These plants require well-draining soil to prevent weak roots. Prune the new growth during the spring. Spotted laurels need filtered sunlight since direct heat can burn them.
Throughout this guide, you’ll discover how to take care of your spotted laurel, what kind of soil it needs, and more.
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1. Provide Enough Room for Growth
Spotted laurels need between three to six feet for optimal growth (source). This placement ensures their roots can grow without tangling, but it also allows the plants to grow outward above the surface.
Spotted laurels can be quite large, so they require much more space than small potted plants.
Another option is to propagate your spotted laurel from a cutting. You can grow the cutting in a pot, then transfer it to the soil once you have enough room for it.
They can also grow well over six feet tall, so make sure there’s enough overhead room (hanging trees and awnings can be problematic).
2. Optimize the Watering Cycle and Schedule
Spotted laurels don’t need to be watered daily like some plants. They typically only need to be watered once per week.
During the winter, you can water your spotted laurel a bit less since the soil is harder and won’t drain as easily. Additionally, there’s less dehydration from direct sunlight, so the roots hold the water much longer.
Keep these watering tips in mind to take care of your spotted laurel:
- Water the plant when the soil feels dry about four inches below the surface.
- Always pour the water slowly to prevent the roots from weakening or turning to mush.
- During the summer, water your spotted laurel when before it’s under direct sunlight to prevent the water from evaporating out of the soil.
- Water the base of the plant, then water about one foot in each direction to cover the roots.
3. Use Well-Draining Soil
Spotted laurels need well-draining soil, including peat moss, loose topsoil, and so on. Don’t use too much sand or clay in the topsoil since it can limit drainage.
When spotted laurel roots flood, they weaken and get thin. These thin roots can’t provide enough moisture throughout the plant, which causes the leaves to droop.
If you have already planted your spotted laurel, you can aerate it and mix new compost into the dirt. This will incorporate oxygen for the roots to absorb.
It also makes it easier for water to drain through the soil without clumping and puddling around the roots. Too much water is just as problematic as not enough water for spotted laurels.
4. Prune Your Spotted Laurel in Spring
Spotted laurels can be extensively pruned without causing long-term damage. Many laurel owners trim ⅓ or more of the plant to propagate or shape their spotted laurels.
Consider these pruning suggestions:
- Trim any new growth that’s bending or rubbing against other stems and leaves.
- Treat exposed plant wounds with a wound sealer to prevent diseases.
- You can shape spotted laurels from the top down.
- Don’t trim a spotted laurel to lean either way; it can cause permanent damage to the limbs.
- Always prune and dispose of leaves and stems with diseases, mildew, fungi, or bacteria.
Avoid pruning your spotted laurel during the winter because it won’t have enough hydration and nutrients to grow back.
5. Maintain the Soil’s pH and Nutrients
Your spotted laurel needs soil with appropriate pH levels to stop the roots from burning away. If it’s too acidic, the soil will keep the roots from absorbing enough moisture.
This will make the leaves droop and wilt. They’ll also get softer, making them more susceptible to heat and tears.
Spotted laurels also require carbon, nitrogen, and a host of minerals. Mulch and compost often have more than enough carbon and nitrogen for the soil around spotted laurels.
6. Provide Filtered Sunlight and Shade
While many plants need sunlight regularly, a spotted laurel can burn under too much direct sunlight. They shouldn’t get more than three to four hours of direct heat without shade.
You can use various sunshades or other plants to filter the light hitting the plant.
Spotted laurels should be protected from the wind since they can bend and break. If there’s too much sunlight and wind, you’ll need to transplant the laurel or add protective barriers around the base of the plant.
The Sunny Guard shade sail (link to Amazon) is a 12’ x 16’ *(30.48 x 40.64 cm) fabric that filters sunlight without preventing your plants from getting the nutrients they need.
You can place it high above the laurel to prevent it from touching the top of the plant. This sunshade comes in an array of sizes and colors to filter your plant’s sunlight penetration.
7. Apply Mulch, Compost, or Topsoil
Mulch, compost, and topsoil are loaded with nutrients, carbon, nitrogen, and well-draining dirt. They have everything your spotted laurel needs to grow healthily.
If you add fertilizer to the list, make sure that it doesn’t have too much nitrogen or it’ll burn the roots.
All mulch and compost can include grass clippings, dried leaves, and other plant droppings from around the yard. Never use diseased plant clippings in your mulch or compost pile.
Providing your spotted laurel with healthy soil and optimal hydration will allow it to grow for many years to come.
You can prune and shape your spotted laurel to your desire, as long as you don’t remove the roots or leave diseased portions on the plant.