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Campus Gardens

Kalmia latifolia
Kalmia latifolia 'Carousel'
Kalmia latifolia 'Olympic Fire'
Mountain laurel
Family: Ericaceae

Kalmia latifolia is an evergreen shrub native to Eastern North America. It is tolerant of sun or shade, but grows best in partial shade. It requires some sun for good flower production. Buds form in the fall and the flowers bloom around late May through early July. Flowers occur in 3"-6" inflorescence; oval leaves are glossy and can be 5" long. Mountain laurels have a slow growth rate but they can grow to be about 6'�10' tall (native plants tend to grow even taller and more open).

There are many cultivars (over 80) of Kalmia latifolia, mainly due to tissue cultures, the primary means of propagation for this plant. These cultivars have different attributes, but their flowers are their most prominent feature. Kalmia latifolia 'Carousel' has flowers that are white with a bright purple band of color on them. 'Olympic Fire' is another cultivar known for its red-pink buds, which fully develop into light pink flowers. Native varieties of the shrub bear white flowers.

Mountain Laurels are well suited to naturalistic gardens and are low maintenance. They prefer to grow in acidic soil and have few pest problems. (They have a high resistance to leaf spot.) Two major threats to them though are root rot and root weevils. Other points of concern are to not use too much fertilizer on the shrub, and to avoid letting it dry out. Several specimens are growing on campus in a shady alley walkway between the Athletics Center & Gym . Visit there from April through June for other interesting shrubs as well. Hardy in zones 5-9

Jordan Santiago

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