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Am I going to kill my mountain laurel in full sun?

Posted by sirienne 7a (My Page) on
Sat, May 4, 13 at 23:32

Background:
I am a first time homeowner (and gardener). I bought my house last April but I was concentrating on the inside and did not have a chance to do anything with the landscaping until recently.

The house is a townhouse. The front faces S-SW and while the right side may get a few hours of shade in the morning before 10-11 or so, the other side gets absolutely no shade at all, all day long.

On the left side I have a bare stretch of wall before the window starts, which houses the electrical meter, water meter, etc. It's about 5 feet wide and the top of the meter is about 4 feet off the ground. It's ugly and my primary landscaping goal at the moment is to plant a shrub in front of it to hide it, and generally give that blank area some visual interest.

The issue is that it has to be a rather specific size, since it needs to be big enough to fill out the bare/ugly area, but not so big that it grows into my neighbor's yard or covers up my front window - so ideally not much more than 5-6 feet wide and tall. It can be a bit taller than that but more than 7-8 feet would start to overwhelm the area. And I want it to be evergreen, so that it provides coverage year-round, and ideally flowering. And of coures it has to deal with being blasted by the sun all day long.

I've been trying to do research and haven't found much that fits my rather specific requirements, and of course when I do find something, it's not something carried in any local stores and the stuff that I do find locally isn't something I've researched about before.

I was in a local nursery last week looking for shrubs and I came across a mountain laurel - the 'Sarah' variety - that said on the tag it can take full sun and grows to about 6' high and wide. I bought it, brought it home, and planted it in that spot, but now I'm reading that that variety only grows to about 3-4 feet and mountain laurels in general do not like lots of sun, although this variety supposedly tolerates more sun than most.

I'm worried that it won't get big enough and that it won't do well in that spot. Is it going to be ok there or should I move it somewhere else? The back of the townhouse is basically a lightly wooded area, perhaps that would be more suitable? I was looking to plant a shrub back there anyway. It would go right between a small tree and a thriving bleeding heart.

If I did move it, would it be ok to be moved after a week or two of being planted? What else could I put in its place? I did not find anything else suitable at the nursery, after painstakingly looking at every single flowering shrub they carried. I did find an abelia that I planted on the opposite side of the house in the front, but that will not grow big enough. Perhaps I will have to go with a non-flowering shrub? Evergreen is more important than flowers.

I am in southeastern PA... says zone 7a on the map but it looks like I'm not very far from the 7a/6b line.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Am I going to kill my mountain laurel in full sun?

Mountain Laurel can withstand full sun in many climates. In your particular case, however, I think the heat will be a serious problem. You're in a warm climate zone, the kalmia will receive direct sun all day long plus the reflected heat from the wall behind it. In the height of summer if not before, I do think this will be just too much for this species. You'll very likely have problems from winter sun as well. It's also not a great choice for providing screening, either. It's naturally quite a slow grower and the small leaves do not provide much in the way of the kind of cover you're looking for.

It would be fine to move it now. Many shrubs can be kept to the size you want by pruning. I'd ask the nursery for their recommendations.


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