The Prunus laurocerasus Zabeliana is commonly called Zabel’s Cherry Laurel. It has a low-growing growth habit that spreads outward. It grows a little over one meter in height but spreads 3.5 meters when fully grown. A multi-stemmed evergreen shrub, it's a classic low hedge favourite or ground cover plant. It fills out all the way to the ground so it is ideal as a low privacy screen.
The evergreen foliage of the Zabel’s Cherry Laurel resembles a willow’s leaves. Each leaf is narrow, almost strap-like, and a dark glossy green colour. In the early spring months, this low growing Laurel produces an abundance of snowy-white fragrant flower racemes that stand out in dazzling contrast against the foliage. The flowers mature into a large crop of small black berries that are a favourite food source for birds and other woodland creatures. Although the berries are a dietary staple, the leaves of the shrub are left alone by deer, rabbits and other foragers.
Zabel’s Cherry Laurel is exceptionally hardy. It grows well in sun or shade. Once established it can tolerate periods of drought. However, when first planted and for optimum growth, it prefers moist soil. It does not withstand overly wet soil conditions and will start to suffer from root rot if exposed for any length of time.
The tough little shrub isn’t picky about soil and will grow in alkaline or acidic conditions. However, to truly thrive, it enjoys soil that is high in organic content.
Unlike many other shrubs and hedge plants, Zabel’s Cherry Laurel grows well in maritime conditions. It tolerates salt spray well. The shrub’s short stature also helps it withstand high coastal winds.
The Zabel’s Cherry Laurel is often found in urban settings that suffer from excessive pollution. The smog conditions do not seem to bother the hardy shrub.
Once established, the Zabel’s Cherry Laurel grows without much care. It can be allowed to freely grow or withstand yearly pruning to maintain its shape or size. If pruning is desired, it should be done in the late fall or early winter after the shrub has ceased to flower.
If you are looking for a carefree evergreen shrub that is relatively short and provides a moderate growth rate then look no further than the Zabel’s Cherry Laurel.