Mountain Laurel – Fertilizing

Q: We have lived in Ellijay, on mountainous river property for approximately 12 years. The land is covered with mountain laurel and rhododendron.

The mountain laurel looks scraggy, leggy and not well kept. I have lightly pruned, but admit I don’t know what to do. My city neighbors take the chainsaw and have subdivision-like yards, but I enjoy the mountain shrubs and would like to improve their performance (they do bloom some, sparsely).

Can you advise me in the care and stimulation of these lovely evergreens?

A: Laurels like slow-release organic fertilizer, so if you can rake away the leaves under them you can put a layer of Milorganite or cottonseed meal or composted chicken beneath each one to stimulate growth.

The stimulation then will allow you to do selective pruning over a couple of years to reduce their size and allow new vigorous growth from the base.

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