Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a flowering broadleaf evergreen shrub with a gnarly, multi-stemmed growth habit. It has beautiful spring blooms, and its elliptical, glossy deep-green leaves (resembling those of rhododendrons) and gnarled stems make it attractive in all seasons. This shade-loving shrub produces clusters of rose, pink, or white flowers with purple markings in late May to early June. If the flowers are not deadheaded, nondescript brown fruits will appear. Many different cultivars are available that offer various sizes and bloom colors.
Mountain laurel usually grows as a dense, rounded shrub, with branches that grow gnarlier as the shrub ages. It is a relatively slow-growing shrub, adding about one foot per year. While mountain laurel is particular about its soil needs, this plant is easy to grow in the right environment. It is a good flowering shrub for mass plantings in shady shrub borders, woodland gardens, or foundation plantings. It partners well with rhododendrons and azaleas.
Mountain laurel is native to the eastern United States, from New England south to the Florida panhandle and west to southern Indiana down to Louisiana.