Portuguese Laurel Hedging – All You Need to Know

Portuguese laurel is one of the most popular hedge varieties in the United Kingdom because it provides privacy all year round and has very interesting colouring. There are many questions that gardeners ask about the Portuguese laurel such as;

  • How fast does Portuguese laurel grow?
  • Does Portuguese laurel flower?
  • When is the best time to plant Portuguese laurel?
  • How tall does Portuguese laurel grow?

This Portuguese laurel hedging guide will answer all of those questions and many more besides, helping you understand your Portuguese laurel and get the healthiest and best-looking hedge possible. Not only that, but if you are looking to get your Portuguese laurel established and growing quickly, this guide will help you.

Portugal Laurel Hedging Plant
Portugal Laurel Hedging Plant

How to Grow a Portuguese Laurel Hedge

One of the most distinctive aspects of the Portuguese laurel is that although it is an evergreen, it also adds a splash of maroon to your hedging as the stalks and stems have a deep and rich colour. It is for this reason that many gardeners pick the Portuguese laurel as it retains colour through the dreary winter months. Let’s look at how to grow a Portuguese laurel.

Buying a Portuguese Laurel

The Portuguese laurel you buy will depend on your planting needs. If you are planting in the late autumn to winter, then root ball hedging is best. If you’re exclusively planting during the winter, bare root hedging is the way to go. If you wish to plant at any other time of the year, then it is advisable to buy pot grown Portuguese laurel and transplant it. This first step also tells you the best time to plant Portuguese laurel.

Planting a Portuguese Laurel

Planting a Portuguese laurel is much the same as planting any laurel hedge variety. There are a few things you should do to ensure you get the best growth rate, especially in the first year. These are;

  • Plant your Portuguese laurel away from walls, buildings and any structures with foundations as laurel root networks can grow and become intrusive over a number of years.
  • When planting Portuguese laurel, it is best planted in a trench with a planting distance of around 2ft or 60cm apart. This will ensure no gaps in the hedgerow as the hedge grows out and establishes itself.
  • Digging a trench is preferable over rows or slits as you can fill in a trench with plenty of compost or manure to give your hedge an extra burst of growth, it also clears the ground where the roots will take up of rocks and sand.
  • Don’t pack your hedge plants too close together as the roots will encroach on each other and the plants will be less healthy.

Following those four simple tips will help you see your Portuguese laurel off to a flying start.

Portugal Laurel Hedging Plant
Portugal Laurel Hedging Plant

Growing a Portuguese Laurel

Once planted (and providing that you have put manure or compost into the trench) you should notice a good level of growth in the first year. It is important to water the hedge and keep the ground hydrated in the first year as well. Be careful not to overwater the hedge though as Portuguese laurel hedges suffer badly in waterlogged ground.

Portuguese Laurel Maintenance

In the first year you can expect anywhere from 1ft to 2ft of growth. You will need to prune your Portuguese laurel once a year to continue a healthy growth rate. In terms of hedge growth rates, the Portuguese laurel is among the fastest growing hedge types which makes it ideal for privacy and screening purposes.

The Portuguese laurel hedge height can grow up to 20ft over a decade or so and they can be very imposing hedges if they are allowed to grow out uncontrolled.

Portugal Laurel Hedging Plant
Portugal Laurel Hedging Plant

Ultimate Portuguese Laurel FAQs

Don’t worry if we have missed some of those all-important questions, below is a full list of FAQs for growing Portuguese laurel hedging.

Does Portuguese laurel flower?

Yes, the Portuguese laurel is a flowering hedge that produces delicate white flowers in the early summer (typically June). These flowers are clustered together along racemes and look striking when in bloom. The flowers also have a nice fragrance and Portuguese laurel is a real treat on the senses in the fresh warm June air.

The flowers aren’t as robust as the wider plant and are easily pruned or dropped, so appreciate them while the hedge is in flower – its flowering time doesn’t last long, unfortunately.

How tall does Portuguese laurel grow?

Normally, gardeners tend to cut back Portuguese laurel hedging to a desired height, but if left to grow out most plants with easily reach heights of 15ft with many even growing up to 20ft.

How fast does Portuguese laurel grow?

An average Portuguese laurel growth rate is 18 inches per year, although good soil and irrigation can add an extra 6 inches of growth. This makes it among the fastest growing hedge varieties with only Cherry laurel and Leylandii growing at a faster pace (of the popular hedge types).

When is the best time to plant Portuguese laurel?

Most Portuguese laurel plants are put into the ground during the winter months (although frosty ground should be avoided). If you’re looking to plant at other times in the year it is best to buy a pot grown Portuguese laurel and transplant it. If planting during the hot summer months pay extra attention to your plant and ensure it is watered regularly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

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