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Skip Cherry Laurel: A Guide to Growing and Caring for Your Garden's Newest Addition

skip cherry laurel

If you're looking for a fast-growing, low-maintenance evergreen shrub with beautiful foliage and fragrant flowers, then skip cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana) might be just what you need. Skip cherry laurel is native to the southeastern United States and is commonly used as a hedge, screen, or specimen plant in landscapes. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about growing and caring for skip cherry laurel.

What is Skip Cherry Laurel?

Skip cherry laurel, also known as Carolina cherry laurel, is an evergreen shrub or small tree that can reach up to 20 feet tall and wide. It has glossy, dark green leaves that are 2-5 inches long and 1-2 inches wide, and produces small white flowers in spring. The flowers are followed by small black fruits that are not edible for humans but attract birds.

Planting Skip Cherry Laurel

Skip cherry laurel is easy to plant and can tolerate a variety of soil types, including clay, sand, and loam. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. When planting skip cherry laurel, dig a hole that is two to three times wider than the root ball but no deeper than the root ball. Fill the hole with soil, water thoroughly, and mulch around the base of the plant to retain moisture.

Spacing and Pruning

When planting skip cherry laurel as a hedge, space the plants 3 to 5 feet apart. For a screen or specimen plant, space them at least 10 feet apart. Skip cherry laurel responds well to pruning and can be shaped into a formal hedge or left to grow naturally. Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

Watering and Fertilizing

Skip cherry laurel is drought-tolerant once established but benefits from regular watering during dry periods. Water deeply once a week during the growing season and reduce watering in the winter. Skip cherry laurel does not require much fertilizer, but you can apply a balanced fertilizer in the spring if desired.

Pests and Diseases

Skip cherry laurel is relatively pest-free but can be susceptible to root rot if planted in poorly drained soil. It can also develop leaf spot, which causes brown spots on the leaves. To prevent leaf spot, avoid overhead watering and remove any infected leaves. Skip cherry laurel can also be attacked by scale insects, which can be controlled with horticultural oil.

Uses of Skip Cherry Laurel

Skip cherry laurel is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of ways in the landscape. It makes an excellent hedge or screen plant, providing privacy and noise reduction. It can also be used as a specimen plant or foundation planting. The fragrant flowers attract bees and butterflies, making it a good choice for a pollinator garden.

Companion Plants

When planting skip cherry laurel, consider pairing it with other evergreen shrubs such as boxwood (Buxus spp.), Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica), or yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria). For a pop of color, add some flowering perennials such as coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.), salvia (Salvia spp.), or coneflower (Echinacea spp.).


Skip cherry laurel can be propagated from seeds, cuttings, or by layering. Seeds should be planted in the fall and will take up to two years to germinate. Cuttings should be taken in the summer and rooted in a well-draining potting mix. Layering involves bending a branch down to the ground, wounding the bark, and covering it with soil until roots form.


There are several cultivars of skip cherry laurel available that offer different leaf colors and sizes. 'Compacta' is a dwarf variety that grows only 6-8 feet tall and wide. 'Bright 'N Tight' has bright green foliage and a tight, compact growth habit. 'Monus' has large, glossy leaves and a pyramidal shape.

Skip cherry laurel is a great addition to any garden, providing year-round interest and easy care. It's fast-growing and versatile, making it suitable for a variety of uses. With proper planting, watering, and pruning, skip cherry laurel can thrive in your landscape for many years to come.


Q: Is skip cherry laurel poisonous?

A: Yes, skip cherry laurel contains cyanogenic glycosides, which can be toxic if ingested. Keep children and pets away from the plant and do not use the wood for cooking or smoking meat.

Q: How often should I water skip cherry laurel?

A: Skip cherry laurel should be watered deeply once a week during the growing season and less frequently in the winter.

Q: Can skip cherry laurel be grown in containers?

A: Skip cherry laurel can be grown in containers, but it will need regular watering and fertilizing to thrive.

Q: When is the best time to prune skip cherry laurel?

A: Prune skip cherry laurel in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

Q: Can skip cherry laurel be used as a privacy hedge?

A: Yes, skip cherry laurel makes an excellent privacy hedge, as it grows quickly and densely.

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