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It’s not hard to grow a laurel hedge from cuttings, it just takes a bit of time. We grew a Laurel hedge for under $10!
Before we moved to the Cariboo, we lived on the ocean. We built a cottage, landscaped the property and basically went crabbing every afternoon.
Since I have always loved to garden, I was delighted to have a blank canvas to work with when it came to landscaping. So. Much. Fun! And we figured out a way to put in a hedge basically for free. Here’s how to grow a privacy hedge from laurel cuttings.
You can use this method to grow one or two of your own laurel bushes or grow enough to create a privacy fence from these evergreens around your home.
Laurels grow well in full sun, but they will tolerate some partial shade as well. They grow in the wet soils found in coastal areas and should only need regular watering after they are established, no matter what zone they are growing in.
How to Grow a Laurel Hedge from Cuttings
Here’s how we started a hedge along the road perimeter of our lot. I am always looking to do things the cheap (or free) way and love being creative when it comes to gardening.
We found someone with a Laurel hedge and offered to trim it for them. For free, of course.
And we would take away the cut foliage. They were delighted. And so were we!
Once we got their hedge dealt with, we loaded up the trimmings. We only needed a small amount really in order to start our own hedge.
So we took the excess off to the compost pile at the landfill and brought the rest home.
Preparing a Nursery Bed for Shrub Cuttings
To me there is not point in preparing the whole hedge planting area, so it is ready to receive the cuttings.
I used a nursery bed; it makes it a lot easier for the first year.
A nursery bed is just an area (say 6 x 8 feet) to hold your cuttings for the short term. Let the laurel leaves live close together in a small bed and it makes life easier for you.
You can water it faster and keep an eye on the cuttings much easier.
So get your nursery bed dug, fertilized and raked before going to trim that friends hedge. Make sure your bed is watered well right before planting your cuttings.
Can you plant Laurel cuttings straight into the ground?
Yes you can plant them right into your hedge line. You may however, find it easier to use the nursery bed option to keep the small cuttings closer together.
When to take Laurel cuttings?
The very best time to take cuttings from a Laurel plant is in the Spring time. Do it when the plant is in bud and you will find it very easy to cut your trimmings.
Is Rooting Hormone Necessary?
Rooting hormone is pretty important. I wouldn’t even try rooting cuttings without using rooting hormone – it’s an important part of laurel propogation.
Rooting hormone – a mix of plant hormones called auxins – stimulates new growth and protects freshly cut leaves and stems from fungus. Using it greatly increases your success rate in getting your cuttings to take root and become healthy, strong plants.
This is the rooting product we used when we started the laurel hedge. Rootech is available on Amazon and at some garden centers.
What Can I Use Instead of Rooting Hormone?
While there are several brands of rooting hormone available commercially, there are also natural alternatives for those who prefer to keep things more organic.
Some rooting hormone alternatives are apple cider vinegar, honey, cinnamon, aspirin, and – believe it or not – saliva. But one of the best natural alternatives to rooting hormone is some good, strong Willow Water.
How do I Make my Own Rooting Hormone?
Here’s how you can make your own rooting hormone using willow
How to Take a Cutting from a Shrub
There are really only a couple things you need to know in order to properly take a cutting from a shrub.
- Do it in the spring when the plant is in bud.
- Use sharp pruning shears.
- Find a new bud on a stem and make an angled cut below the bud.
- Immediately dip the cut end into the rooting hormone.
- Immediately plant it. You don’t need to dig a hole; your nursery bed should have soft soil ready. Just stick the cutting in the hole and tamp the soil.
- Water your nursery bed just like you water your other flower beds. Let the Laurel cuttings grow there until the Fall (if they are really putting on growth) or until the following Spring.
Note: When you dip the cutting into the rooting hormone, really dunk it good. Don’t just use a little bit.
Get a nice thick blob of hormone sticking to the cutting. Take a look at the photo to get an idea of what I mean.
How Long do Laurel Cuttings Take to Root?
The cuttings will begin to grow very quickly, especially if you have used the rooting hormone. If you were to very gently dig up a new plant two weeks after planting it, you will see lots of small nodes and roots beginning to grow.
Carefully replant it and let it settle in again. It won’t be long till you might see a new leaf or bud, but remember the majority of the energy of the laurel plant will be going in to the root system growth.
Prepping your Hedge Line for the Cuttings
OK, fast forward to planting time. You’ve given your cuttings several months to get settled and then get established.
They’ve grown a bit and you are ready to get your hedge done.
Run a string line along where you want your hedge planted. Once you know your outside and inside lines for the hedgerow, add lots of great compost or soil.
There is a lot going on in this photo.
But check out that hedge line that is happening up close to the road – that’s where the Laurel hedge is going to be planted.
There’s lots of great soil placed there, waiting for the cuttings.
A soaker hose (drip hose) is coiled up waiting to be placed along the middle of the hedge line.
The plastic landscape edging being held down is to finish off that gravel path on the right.
That edging can be a bugger to work with; on a sunny day, unroll it and weight down the ends. This will help it lay flat.
We also still needed to cut down the pipes in the yard; we had just had our services finished being installed.
I put a few temporary posts in and added some caution tape on the road side of the hedge.
I didn’t want dogs or vehicles too close to the Laurel. Then I laid down black plastic in order to keep any weeds down.
How to Plant a Laurel Hedge from Cuttings
Finally, we are ready to plant the Laurel cuttings that have been in the nursery bed. We first need to figure out how far apart to space the plants.
How Far Apart to Plant Laurel Hedge?
The ideal spacing for laurel hedge plants is 4 feet apart. That may seem quite far apart but the plants will grow not only tall, but wide. At this spacing, your hedge will definitely grow together, although it will take several years.
We decided to do it differently, quite a bit tighter than that ideal mature spacing. So, I made an X in the plastic every six inches. NOTE: My thinking was to plant close together, wait to see how many survived and grew, then cut down every second or third one.
Does that make sense? I wanted to make sure we would have a thick hedge. And we had lots of cuttings, well over 100 of them. If you don’t have as many cuttings, just place the plants farther apart.
Just remember to take the width of your plant into consideration, because these bushes will grow tall and wide!
How Deep to Plant Laurel Cuttings?
Once I had the X cut in, I planted the cutting. The general guideline for planting any shrub is to dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the root ball on the shrub.
So, of course, I didn’t have to dig very big holes for these cuttings. The planting went very quickly. After planting the whole row, we lay down the soaker hose and then added a layer of bark mulch.
And see how healthy those Laurel cuttings look!
How much would each one of these cost in a store if you had to buy them?
Free is always good!
Growth of a Laurel Hedge the first year after planting
That photo just above was taken on April 1. Here’s what some of the cuttings looked like just one month later.
Look at the new growth spurting forth! Those cuttings are obviously loving where they have been planted.
They are getting regular watering and are settling right in to their new home.
By July, we hadn’t lost any of the plants and there was new growth on all of them. The soaker hose lays underneath the mulch.
Fast forward about 7 years…are you ready for a photo of this hedge?
We went by the old place and took photos.
Looks to me like it needs a really good trimming. You can see the growth over the years – the plants had filled the hedge line in 2 years and then just continued growing.
We did remove every second plant to allow enough room for the remaining Laurel plants to grow together. We did this in their third year.
We’re glad we planted so tightly – so much better than trying to fill in empty spaces a few years later.
Planting a hedge on your road side is a great way to provide privacy without having to pay thousands of dollars for fencing.
It’s a great option to keep in mind when landscaping. Try to grow a laurel hedge from cuttings – you will be surprised at how well they grow.
And you will be pleased with how much money you can save!
How do I Encourage Laurel Growth?
How to Make Laurel Grow Faster?
Your newly planted hedge needs a regular watering schedule; don’t let the ground dry out too much. It’s important for your hedge plants to settle in and grow, so the less stress they go through the better.
Irregular watering causes stress to plants, so be sure to water on a regular basis. As your bushes become well settled and established, you can back off the watering. Check the surrounding soil to see how moist it is.
Laurel are known to be quite heat tolerant as well as drought-tolerant (once well established). Laurels will grow well in warmer climates.
Organic fertilizers in granular form can be lightly spread around the base of the plants once or twice a year.
How Tall Does Laurel Grow?
Laurel can grow to a mature height of about 15 ft tall! This conifer hedge is fast growing, both in height and width so it won’t be long until your hedge is completely filled in, giving you lots of privacy.
Think about topping your hedge at about 8 feet or so – remember, eventually you will need to use a ladder for the regular trimming!
Growing Zone Finder
To be sure Laurel will grow in your area, check this zone finder (Canadian).
USDA zone finder. (US)
Deer Resistance with Laurel
Deer will graze on Laurel bushes, but there are several types of Laurel hedge that are naturally deer resistant. These are:
- Cherry Laurels
- English Laurel
- Schip Laurel
- Portugese Laurel (also known as Portugal Laurel)
Check out some of our other Backyard DIY Projects:
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Have a shady spot in the yard crying out for some shade loving plants?
The Bottom Line: You can successfully grow a laurel hedge from cuttings!
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Originally published May, 2019; updated May 2022