Cherry Laurel - Otto Luyken

ksharplessMarch 15, 2008

Does anybody know how large a mature Otto Luyken cherry laurel will be? Most landscaping/gardening websites and our local nursery say 3 to 4 ft. MOBOT says 10 to 18 feet. The ones in front of my house are currently 5 to 6 feet. Does anybody know when they'll stop growing? Thanks.

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gardengal48

They stop growing when they are dead :-) Truthfully, if planted in a suitable situation and given proper care, growth can be indefinite although it will slow considerably as the plant ages and can appear to stop altogether. Mature plant sizes reported in books or on plant tags are only guidelines provided to assist with plant placement in the garden and what one can reasonably expect in a given amount of time. Plants don't read any of this and will march to their own drum. Ultimate size is really only determined by rate of growth and growing conditions.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 10:42AM
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linaria_gw

Hello there,
the variety Otto L. is one of the shortest. It is often used as ground cover and I would guess that yours are kind of outgrown and should grow very slowly and get broader. Other cultivars get easily 10 feet and more, depending on the general climate.
If you want really tall ones you should get another cultivar.
And if you worry about them getting too tall you can prune them easily in summer, after the new foliage has fully developed.
You would take out just single younger shoots (max. 3 years old), so the effect is that you shorten them slighly without ruining their shape. And if you do it in summer, they tend to produce shorter shoots in the next season compared to winter/spring pruning + they heal very well.

cheers,
Linaria

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 12:24PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

If yours are growing strongly at that height, adding more than an inch or two per year, then I would assume that the taller height of the MOBOT suggestions is true - if they are slowly growing, only an inch or so, then the lower - they have already exceeded local expectations! As Gardengal says, it depends on the individual plant and on your growing conditions. I believe that the plants can take even severe pruning, so if they are too tall, then you CAN trim it back. Which ever, since they are growing vigorously, I would NOT fertilize them!

Some of the hang-tags give as "mature height" the height to be expected in 10 years. I am not sure of the rational behind this thought - maybe they expect the plant to be dead in 10 years, or expect that the original purchaser will have moved by then and won't care how big the plant ultimately gets! It does NOT help with ultimate placement, however, and usually results in plants being either cut back severely, or yanked out as too big and overgrown. That DOES, however, usually result in the purchase of new plants, so that might be part of the reason...?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 12:27PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

I am sure the fear is if you give ultimate height for trees and shrubs only the dwarf and miniature ones will sell. And then there is the problem of genetic variation in seed-raised plants and variation in how individual specimens produced by all propagation methods are affected by site conditions, there can be a huge range in mature sizes reached. Many examples will never get near the full size for the plant.

'Otto Luyken' in the Seattle arboretum has been well over head height for years, after probably decades of growth. 6 inches or less per year seems typical for this one. You can also find other huge specimens of slow-growing shrubs on old properties, I've got a big pieris here - that we planted in the 1960s. Grows mere inches per year, but it's been here over 40 years.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 2:39PM
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Olivier_NorthFrance(USDA 7)

In the same perspective, there's a 80 years old Osmanthus x burkwoodii growing in "Bretagne" (Brittany, Western France, zone 8, oceanic climate that could be compared to your PNW) which is quite a little tree today :

(Sorry for the poor quality pic, it's a scan from a book © - next to the Osmanthus, on the left, is a Camellia).

This 'shrub' is usually said to reach 2 to 3m (max. 10 feet) at maturity, that's the size one of them reaches in my garden after 8 years ;-)

Olivier.

© "Le monde des Camellias", by Ghislaine de Preaux Carlo, éditions du Rouergue, ISBN 2 841156 461 4.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 3:20PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Ones with tree shapes are seen here also, although not as old and big as that one, which looks like a snow gum in that picture - I don't see the species even listed by Jacobson, Trees of Seattle - Second Edition whereas several others in the same genus are.

A Burkwood osmanthus on a property down the hill from me might have been about 15' tall some years ago, don't remember if it survived the re-development that occurred after the maker of the original garden died.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 4:02PM
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gardengal48

At an average 10 year size of 4-6 feet unpruned and a somewhat upright, vase shaped growth habit, it's a bit of a stretch to consider 'Otto Luyken' laurel a groundcover :-) Maybe you are thinking of 'Zabeliana', which does have a wide, spreading habit - as much as 15-20', perhaps more - with a mature height typically less than 1/3th of that (3-5').

A friend here in the Shoreline area north of Seattle had a gorgeous, umbrella-shaped tree of Osmanthus burkwoodii about 18' tall in an older and very well-established garden. The property was sold and redeveloped several years ago, so guess this beautiful little tree and a wonderful collection of large species rhodies are just memories now. Sounds like we could be referring to almost the same property, Ron :-)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 8:13PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Edmonds. Used to be a nursery.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 8:43PM
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EGO45(6bCT)

That's right, conditions and age are everything.
Here is a 40-years old PG hydrangea, height 23-25'

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 11:56PM
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ksharpless

Thanks for all the input. I hate pruning, so we'll try moving them. That should be fun!!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2008 at 6:46PM
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cherokeedawn

Is there a difference between this and the English Laurel Otto Luyken? The ones I just planted said 24-48 inches high and 6 feet wide. I am getting a TON of mixed messages from websites though.

Any help out there or should I just move them?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 2:59AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Same item.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 1:15AM
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