Kalmia Mountain Laurel: okay with moist/wet soil conditions?

wynswrld98(z7 WA)May 11, 2014

I've done some Googling of Kalmia Mountain Laurel and read completely conflicting things re: Kalmias and moist/wet soil, read grows in swamp conditions a couple of places and read likes well drained to dry soil on other websites so I'm completely confused.

I have a place with clayish soil that stays pretty moist that I've tried to get rhododendrons to establish via mounding them both had two die, evidently just too wet for rhododendrons. The area is partial sun west facing afternoon sun and good air flow being right at street. I think the problem is in our wet winters where soil is pretty wet (no standing water) whereas in summer the soil isn't wet at all.

So I'm looking for an evergreen to try to replace the dying rhododendron. I was thinking of moving a Kalmia Mountain Laurel I have to this spot (it is too big for where it is), mound it and mix some sand into the soil.


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I know that both Kalmia polifolia (swamp laurel) and Kalmia angustifolia (sheep laurel AKA lambkill) will grow in wet soil or even part-time very shallow water. IME both are smaller and less ornamental than Kalmia latifolia, mountain laurel, but mountain laurel likes moist well-drained soil. I think if your site is too wet for rhododendrons, it will also be too wet for mountain laurel.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 9:22PM
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wynswrld98(z7 WA)

Anyone have any suggestions of an evergreen flowering shrub max about 5' (3' size would be nice) that can handle somewhat wet soil?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:56PM
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Mountain laurel requires excellent drainage, another way of saying lots of oxygen around the roots, even more than rhododendrons do. There are evergreen hollies that will grow under very damp conditions. Some leucothoes and lyonia will also. None of these have very showy flowers, but the berries of winterberry holly do add a welcome touch of color in the darkest seasons.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 5:47AM
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For sure not the mountain laurel. I have lost several to poor drainage in winter. Leucothoes are nice, but probably smaller than you would like. In zone 7 Nandina could work. What about sweet olive, Osmanthus fragrances? It would get taller than 5 feet however. It is one tough and lovely plant.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 6:25PM
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