How to Propagate Mountain Laurel

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Mountain laurel is the state flower of both Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Mountain laurel is the state flower of both Connecticut and Pennsylvania. (Image: mountain laurel image by Tijara Images from Fotolia.com)

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a flowering shrub native to eastern North America that reaches heights of 5 to 12 feet in most areas but can grow larger in the mountains of southern Appalachia. The mountain laurel bush is adorned with 4- to 6- inch clusters of pinkish-white blooms in late spring and early summer. It can be propagated from hardwood cuttings, which are taken when the plant is dormant.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Pruning shears
  • Rubber gloves
  • Rooting hormone
  • 1-gallon container
  • Garden soil
  • Vermiculite
  • Clear plastic
  • Spray bottle

Wipe down your pruning shears with rubbing alcohol to prevent the spread of disease.

Clip off a straight, young mountain laurel branch that is growing from the center of the bush. The chosen branch should be at least as wide as a pencil. Place the branch in a plastic bag. Store it in a cool, moist area until you are ready to prepare it for rooting.

Cut the branch into 6-inch-long pieces. Each piece should have at least two leaf nodes, which are the raised areas on the branch where leaves develop. Make cuts at the top of the branch straight across and those toward the roots at 45-degree angles, just beneath a leaf node. This will make it easier to distinguish top from bottom.

Dip the bottom of the cuttings into rooting hormone, wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands. Tap the cuttings gently to remove any excess rooting hormone.

Fill a 1-gallon container with a combination of 3/4 garden soil and 1/4 vermiculite. Place the bottom of the cuttings into the growing mixture, leaving only one or two nodes above the soil.

Water the cuttings until the soil feels moist to the touch. Move the container to an area that is protected from excessive wind, freezing temperatures and direct sunlight.

Stretch a piece of clear plastic over the container. Mist with water daily, and add moisture directly to the soil when it feels dry to the touch.

Leave the cuttings in place until the end of the first growing season.Transplant the new mountain laurel shrubs to their permanent location in mid- to late fall.

Tips & Warnings

  • Mountain laurel cuttings can be taken as soon as the leaves have fallen from the plant.
  • Use sharp pruning shears and make the cuts as clean as possible.

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