Mountain Laurel


I saw a number of different varieties of Mountain Laurel ( Kalmia Latifolia) in bloom in Boston last June. Are there specific varietals that you would recommend for Toronto.


A showy shrub native to eastern North America, mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) commonly called mountain laurel, calico-bush, or spoonwood, is closely related to azaleas and rhododendrons. It grows in a large, rounded mound and has dark green foliage that remains on the plant all year. In late spring, it bears clusters of flowers in white, pink, and red.
Like most rhododendrons and azaleas, mountain laurel needs soil with an acidic pH. It prefers ground that’s moist, well-drained, and high in organic matter, so amend average soil with compost or peat moss before planting. Mountain laurel tolerates full sun in moist soil, though it does better in partial shade if the soil tends to get dry.
All parts of mountain laurels are poisonous.

All of the following cultivars are considered hardy to USDA Zone 5 equal to Canadian Plant Hardiness Zone 6 which is Toronto’s zone.

  • ‘Ostbo Red’ is a cultivar with deeper pink flowers that open from red buds.
  • ‘Carousel’ has purple striped white flowers.
  • ‘Elf’ is a pink-flowered dwarf form.
  • ‘Minuet’ is a dwarf selection that bears light pink buds and pink flowers with a bold red band. It grows 3 feet tall and wide.
  • ‘Olympic Fire’ shows off red-pink buds that open to dark pink flowers. It grows 10 feet tall and wide.
  • ‘Peppermint’ offers unique white flowers with dark red streaks running to the edges. It grows 10 feet tall and wide.
  • ‘Snowdrift’ is considered one of the best pure-white selections. It has rich, dark green foliage that’s very shiny. It grows 10 feet tall and wide.
  • ‘Tinkerbell’ is a dwarf selection that bears deep pink buds that open to reveal rich pink flowers. It grows 3 feet tall and wide.

For an article with more in-depth information on Mountain Laurel (aka ) see the following site from the Boston Botanic Garden: