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Plant Profile

Prunus lusitanica, also known as Portuguese Laurel, is a popular ornamental shrub in New Zealand gardens. It is native to the Azores, Madeira, and the western Mediterranean region, but has been widely cultivated around the world due to its attractive appearance and versatility. It is a small to medium-sized evergreen shrub that can grow up to 10-15 meters in height. It has glossy, dark green leaves set against red stems that are oval-shaped and measure about 5-10 cm in length. In spring, it produces small white or pinkish flowers that are followed by clusters of black berries.



Caring for Prunus lusitanica is relatively easy, as it is adaptable to a range of growing conditions. It grows well in full sun or partial shade and prefers well-drained soil with a neutral to acidic pH. It is also drought-tolerant once established and can withstand temperatures as low as -15°C.


Birds & Bees

Prunus lusitanica is attractive to birds and bees, making it a great addition to any garden that wants to support wildlife. It also makes a great hedge or screen plant, due to its dense growth habit and evergreen foliage.



When it comes to watering, Prunus lusitanica should be kept evenly moist, but not waterlogged. It is best to avoid letting the soil dry out completely between waterings, especially during hot spells. Feeding requirements are minimal, but an application of a balanced slow-release fertilizer in spring and autumn can help to promote healthy growth.



Overwintering Prunus lusitanica is not necessary in most parts of New Zealand, as it is generally frost-resistant. However, in colder climates, it is recommended to mulch around the base of the plant to help protect its roots from the cold. Another alternative is to spray the leaves with liquid seaweed before the first frosts.



Pruning Prunus lusitanica is important to maintain its shape and encourage bushier growth. It can be pruned at any time of the year, but it is best to avoid pruning in late summer or autumn as this can reduce the number of berries produced.



Propagating Prunus lusitanica is straightforward, either from cuttings or from seed. Cuttings can be taken in spring or summer and should be about 15 cm long. Place them in a pot filled with a mixture of sand and peat, and keep them in a warm, bright location. Seed can be collected from the berries in autumn and sown in a seed tray filled with seed compost. Note: If you are trying to grow seedlings to use as standards later on, these are best done from seed – cuttings will produce a kink at the bottom of the trunk where the new growth shoots out to the side.



Prunus lusitanica is generally disease-resistant, but it can be prone to fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and leaf spot. To prevent these diseases, it is important to avoid overcrowding plants, provide good air circulation, and keep the foliage dry. It is also susceptible to root-rot, so it is essential to plant them in well-drained soils.



Pests that can affect Prunus lusitanica include scale insects and aphids. Regular inspections and prompt removal of infested leaves can help to control these pests. If necessary, chemical insecticides can be used, but it is best to avoid using them when the plant is in flower to protect pollinators.



If you're looking for similar plants to Prunus lusitanica, consider Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry laurel) or Viburnum tinus.


Plants to pair with

To complement its dark green foliage, consider planting it alongside brightly-coloured flowers such as azaleas, hydrangeas, or rhododendrons.



In conclusion, Prunus lusitanica is a versatile, low-maintenance plant that is ideal for use as a hedge, screen, or specimen plant. With its attractive foliage, fragrant flowers, and tolerance for a range of conditions, it is a popular choice for gardens in temperate climates. Regular care, including watering, fertilization, and pruning, will help ensure the health and longevity of this beautiful plant.

Prunus Lusitanica

Out of Stock
    • Mature size: 3m tall x 1.5m wide
    • Evergreen: Yes
    • Flower colour: White
    • Temperature: Hardy
    • Light: Sun/semi shade
    • Moisture: Medium, but prefers good watering
    • Wind tolerance: Hardy


All prices exclude GST

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