Kalmia latifolia ‘Elf’

dwarf mountain laurel

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

Kalmia latifolia 'Elf' is a semi-dwarf mountain laurel with compact, dense growth and shiny dark green foliage. Clusters of pale-pink buds develop in late spring, gradually enlarging and opening to almost pure white flowers. The smaller foliage and tighter growth give a more uniform look in the garden than many other cultivars of mountain laurel making it a good plant for groupings or for mixing with dwarf rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas. The tight growth habit of Pieris japonica 'Prelude' or Cotoneaster adpressus 'Little Gem' make tidy-looking companions. The furry-white indumented new growth of Rhododendron 'Ken Janeck' looks spectacular with the pale pink and white blooms of Kalmia latifolia 'Elf'.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: shrub

Foliage Type: evergreen

Plant Height: 3 ft. 0 in. (0.91 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 3 ft. 0 in. (0.91 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 0 ft. 0 in. (0.00 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 0 ft. 0 in. (0.00 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 9

Flower Color: pink

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

Water Requirements: regular watering

Resistant to: deer

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.