Friday, February 02, 2007

Kalmia latifolia 'Minuet', Mountain laurel

Mountain laurels or Kalmia Latifolia are relatives of blueberries, Enkianthus, heathers and several other shrubs of the family Ericaceae. I love the mass of cupped flowers which usually have different colors on the back and front of the bloom so often times the buds and flowers on the plant may make it seem like it has multicolored blooms. The flower usually has little spots of contrasting color giving it more charm to an already wonderful small shrub.

Unfortunately the ones we have are not thriving. They've grown very little and the one I transplanted because it was in too much sun had almost no roots at all. I guess when we bought them several years ago I just planted them in the topsoil underlayed with clay and didn't think to amend the soil. It apparently likes a peaty well drained by moist soil so I may have to dig them all up and replant them when I've properly prepared the soil. Another thing to put on my already growing list for Spring.


Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Kalmia was always on my IL wishlist, but I can't remember if I planted one before we left for TX. When planting forest-type plants in that clay soil I used an idea from another Chicago gardener, digging the hole deeper and wider than the root ball, and filling the hole halfway with some sort of chopped wood mulch mixed up with compost, maybe some peat, etc. When you put in the shrub it sat quite high in the ground, so after backfilling with soil, you mounded more shredded bark or whatever over the part of the root ball that was out of the ground.

It sounds odd, but the shrub slowly settled as the wood decomposed beneath it, gradually becoming a kind of forest soil.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

8:27 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Thanks for the planting tip Annie. Perhaps I planted the Kalmia too low in the ground without amendments. I will try the Chicago gardener's method and see if the plants will grow more vigorously. We only have 2 plants that need to be replanted as the third is barely hanging on so it shouldn't be a big job. We just need some warm weather.

I heard that Punxsutawney Phil didn't see his shadow this year so we'll have and early Spring.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

I have one kalmia ('Olympic Fire') but it's my first and it's doing just okay after two years so I won't venture any advice. Just wanted to say that your pictures of yours are very pretty... by the photo, they look like they're doing just fine!

7:27 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kim,
The photo is of just two sprigs that were blooming well. The other flowers and greenery help it a lot. You can see that there are hardly any leaves on the Kalmia so the plant is not thriving.

Olympic Fire is a beaut. After reading about the recommended soil composition and Annie's suggestion for planting I may try to grow them again as I really like the look of the flowers.

5:44 AM  

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