Kalmia latifolia ‘Keepsake’

mountain laurel

Outstanding Qualities

The interesting and unusual flowers of the evergreen Mountain Laurel provide a great slash of color to the garden in the late spring to early summer. Kalmia latifolia 'Keepsake' is an excellent example of the fascination of these flowers. This selection was chosen for its deep, raspberry-red buds which open to a nearly solid purple-burgundy flower edged with a thin rim of pure white which sets-off each bloom. The colorful buds extend the showy garden display for at least four weeks, more if the weather is cool. As the flowers fade, lush bronzy-red foliage erupts from the stems and matures to a deep dark, shiny leaf with an interesting bluish sheen. This attractive new foliage is perched on coral red stems. Kalmia latifolia 'Keepsake' is best displayed in bright locations with other slow growing evergreens, like dwarf rhododendrons and azaleas. Its dark foliage contrasts beautifully with dwarf conifers.

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: silver, gold, chartreuse

Great Color Partners: dark green, purple, pink

Culture Notes

Mountain laurels grow best in rich well-drained soil in full sun to light or open shade. Kalmias are not drought tolerant and should be watered regularly during dry weather. It is especially important to water well in mid-to-late summer when the flower buds are forming for the following spring. Removing faded blooms will encourage more flowers the next year. Mountain laurels rarely need much fertilizer and excessive amounts of nutrient can cause burning on the leaf-tips. They require almost no pruning. Removing broken or dead twigs will help it maintain its health and a very light pruning will help it maintain its shape.

© Jo Folkes

Quick Facts

Plant Type: shrub

Foliage Type: evergreen

Plant Height: 5 ft. 0 in. (1.52 m.)

Plant Width/Spread: 4 ft. 0 in. (1.22 m.)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 9

Flower Color: red

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to light or open shade

Water Requirements: regular watering