Landscape Spotlight: Cherry Laurel, Prunus Laurocerasus ‘Otto Luyken’

Posted October 27, 2016 in Blog, Plant and Tree

Cherry laurels are one of the landscape designers best kept secrets.  Well, I guess we just let the plant out of the bag.  Cherry laurels are very popular with designers, but lesser known to the public because they really aren’t that showy of a plant.  These shrubs don’t scream for attention in the nursery and are often overlooked to the untrained eye.  These shrubs can be used many different ways in the landscape and are quite beautiful, dependable, hardy and tolerant.

Ornamental Features

Native to Europe and Asia, this broadleaved evergreen shrub is multi-stemmed and dense, reaching a mature height of 3-4’ with a 6’ compact spreading habit.  It’s lush, dark-green glossy leaves support a bloom of fragrant white flower spikes in early-to-mid spring, and delight the landscape for weeks on end.  Almost unnoticeably, this shrub also produces black fruit after flowering, but the thick foliage hides the bounty from sight.  This fruit is inedible for humans because of its bitter aftertaste, but birds go crazy for it!  You may be thinking, birds are fine, but larger animals like deer, are not!  Fret not; the most action these shrubs see from deer is a little nibble here and there, no major damage comes of it.


Being compact in nature, this shrub also has an organically more-or-less rounded form.  This cherry laurel is relatively low maintenance and tolerates many different environments.  This shrub can endure full sun to partial shade, and has also been noted to tolerate deep shade in the landscape.  While this is a great filler plant to add to your property, make sure that you plant it in a well-drained area.  The Otto Luyken likes moist roots, not wet feet!

It deals well with an annual pruning schedule, if you so choose.  If left unpruned, this shrub may become more dense than you wish for a subtle accent to your landscape.  Pruning to a manageable size and thinning out some interior branches will serve this shrub well in its quest to fill-in and compliment your property.

Use in the Landscape

This plant is hardy in zones 6-8, give or take, and is tolerant of coastal conditions, windy sites, sun, shade…you name it!  Otto Luyken is best for foundation plantings.  It’s low-growing density makes a nice hedge or evergreen foundation, fit for around the home or around outdoor features where you want to disguise underneath, like a deck or under a staircase.  When planting these shrubs, be sure to leave ample room between each installation.  Don’t forget that this plant can have up to a 6’ wide spread, so if you plant too close overcrowding will occur.  To add contrast to your landscape, plant the Otto Luyken among lighter green or taller foliage, this will keep your landscape interesting!

Planting en masse or singularly, the Otto Luyken cherry laurel is a great accent shrub with an aesthetic year-round presence.  So, if you are looking for a hardy, versatile and dependable addition to your landscape, the cherry laurel is worth some consideration.

Would you like some more recommendations for your landscape, or are perhaps looking to expand your outdoor living space to include more than plantings?  MasterPLAN Landscape Design would love to turn your dream backyard into your reality!  Reach out to MasterPLAN to discuss all of the outdoor options for you, your family and your property!

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