The Q&A Archives: Leaf drop in Mountain Laurel

Question: This is the 2nd season for a small leafed mountain laurel, planted beneath a large blue spruce. Last season it looked haelthy, but did not bloom(I did not expect it to, being newly planted). This year it had some buds, but many leaves have browned at the tips and fallen off. The branches are dying.
The site is exposed to North- South wind, but came through the winter fine. It gets some sun, but not a great deal.
Thanks for your help.

Answer: Based on your description I am not certain what is happening to your mountain laurel. This plant does best in a spot with protection from winter winds (they are drying and can cause foliage to discolor and die and also can cause branch tips to dry out and die back.) This plant needs soil that is organic and humusy evenly moist yet well drained meaning never wet or soggy. The soil should also be acidic. Using a year round mulch several inches deep over the root area can help, it helps hold soil moisture and adds organic matter as it breaks down slowly over time. If the plant is drying out or too wet and suffers root damage as a result, it may show dieback. You may also want to check that the roots are growing out into the surrounding soil and are not stuck growing in a circle in the original planting hole. If they are growing in a circle, you could try lifting the plant and directing the roots outward or cutting them as should have been done at planting time. Then replant making sure it is not any deeper (or perhaps a half inch higher) than it grew originally in its container. You may also want to check with your retailer and/or county extension to see if they have any suggestions. Good luck with your mountain laurel.

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