The Q&A Archives: What can I do for my otto luyken laurel?

Question: I have two Otto Luyken Laurels that I transplanted last October, shortly before a very cold snap. They looked okay most of the winter, but in February, the leaves on both began dying. Both bushes are now covered in brown leaves, but the stems do not snap off as if the bush itself is dead. Should I cut the bushes back to where they have no leaves and, by doing so, is there a chance they will come back? Thanks so much for your assistance.

Answer: As a general guideline, wait to prune back frost damage until there is no more chance of frost in your area. Although the dead foliage may look unsightly, it actually provides protection for the plant in case of more cold weather. Also, if the stems don't seem brittle and dead, wait a bit to see if the plant doesn't push out new growth on its own. Oftentimes, we prune back more than necessary in our impatience to see new growth! When new growth starts, then you can prune back the "truly dead" plant material to that point. Good luck with your laurels!

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