Kalmia latifolia ‘Sarah’

mountain laurel

Outstanding Qualities

Mountain laurels are beautiful slow growing evergreen shrubs for the Pacific Northwest and Kalmia latifolia 'Sarah' is one of the best red cultivars available. Blooming occurs in late spring, starting with bright red flower buds that gradually enlarge until they burst open revealing a rich pink interior. This selection has very good garden constitution with a pleasant upright habit and a stronger root system than most other mountain laurels. Mature plants have shapely sculptural trunks and can be a lovely specimen in a Japanese garden setting. Mountain laurels combine well with sun loving rhododendrons and azaleas. Purple foliage contrasts well with the red flower and shiny deep green foliage, Physocarpus opulus 'Diablo', Actaea simplex 'Brunette' or long willowy stems of Cotinus 'Grace' would all make fine combinations.

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.

© Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

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: pink

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

Water Requirements: regular watering