The magnificent cherry laurel is very decorative in the garden, either planted as a solitary feature or as a hedge. A cherry laurel planted on its own can be pruned in various ways.
Pruning in March
Vigorously growing plants and shrubs like the cherry laurel can become so big that they outgrow their intended place in the garden. Fortunately these shrubs can withstand fairly drastic pruning to keep them under control.
An old cherry laurel that has gone woody and/or has become too big may need rigorous pruning. March is the best time for this. This gives the plant plenty of time to grow back after pruning. It may be a good idea to trim it regularly from then on to keep it in check.
Cut the plant down to just above the ground. However, this should not be taken too literally, as you must leave enough of the plant for it to develop new shoots. You can determine the right pruning height by looking at where the main branches ramify. This branch structure should be left intact after pruning. The more branches are left after pruning, the bushier the plant will eventually become. You should therefore cut down to just above where the branches divide. The new shoots will develop from the dormant buds on these branches.
Pruning from June to September
The best time to trim a cherry laurel into shape is from June to September. If a shrub such as the cherry laurel becomes much larger than you had originally planned, it can be pruned into a more compact model.
In the case of evergreen shrubs like the cherry laurel, try not to cut through too many leaves when pruning, as this makes the shrub look unattractive. When trimming a cherry laurel into shape, select branches divided evenly over the plant and cut these branches back to just above a leaf. Young branches will grow from the buds in the leaf axils. Do not leave long stumps above the leaves as these stumps will die off and look untidy.
If you have a small shrub, you only need to shorten the branches by about 10-15 cm. For larger shrubs, 30-50 cm can be removed. To retain the natural appearance, do not cut exactly the same length from each branch. Select the branches you want to prune in advance, taken from all over the plant, to make sure you prune evenly and do not leave large gaps.
Pruning the cherry laurel planted as a hedge
A cherry laurel hedge should be trimmed twice a year. Take into consideration the two growing periods of the cherry laurel in a year and prune accordingly. The first pruning can be done in early June. If you prune later you will remove the new growth of the second growing period. The second pruning can be done at the end of September.