I have a Schipkaensis laurel (4); this spring, they look like they have dried up or burned. What can be done to save them?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Anne: Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis’ is a shade-loving broadleaf evergreen. It is one of the hardiest of the cherrylaurels. From what you have described, it sounds like your laurels have suffered from some winter damage. Like you said, they literally look like they were burned. In general, all broad-leafed evergreens are more susceptible to winter damage if they are planted in the fall because the roots have not had time to become established before the winter arrives. How long have your laurels been in the ground? If they were planted this fall it is likely winter damage. Even if they are an established planting in your garden, they are subject to damage when we have unusually harsh winter weather. I have seen some evidence of winter damage here in Kentucky, but we did have a very cold winter, including a major ice storm, so if you found yourself in this same situation this is likely the cause. Unfortunately, the damaged foliage will not recover and should be removed if it has not already dropped. It is possible that even some of the branches are damaged, and if so they should also be removed. If the laurels were healthy to begin with they should recover and put on new growth. They are under a bit of stress, so make sure they are receiving enough moisture but that the soil drains well, and avoid over-fertilizing since this can cause more harm than good. If the majority of the plants are damaged, sometimes it is easier to remove them and plant something that will work better in that space. Otherwise, give them time and they should recover.