A bushy evergreen with tiny clusters of yellow flowers, the spurge-laurel is native to the Mediterranean and other regions of Europe.
The Daphne laureola is slow-growing and tolerates a range of conditions. It has thick, dark green, glossy leaves with a high ornamental value.
Spurge-laurels are easy to grow but because they’re classified as a noxious weed, gardeners should take precautionary measures when cultivating this plant.
In the spurge-laurel plant care tips below, I’ll cover the growing conditions that are best suited for this plant along with some of the caveats of having this plant in your garden.
Spurge-laurel Plant Care Tips
If you want to enjoy the spurge-laurel in your garden, you’ll have an easy time growing this plant. But because it can be difficult to eradicate this plant, once it’s established, and because it’s a poisonous plant, you’ll also need to know how to control it.
The Daphne laureola reaches its ultimate height and spread in about 5-10 years, depending on environmental conditions.
The plant grows to be only 4 feet tall at the most and reaches an ultimate spread of 4-4.5 feet. In some areas, however, the spurge-laurel can grow larger putting understory vegetation at risk.
The spurge-laurel can adapt to various light requirements such as full sun, partial shade or full shade. Full sun or partial shade are the ideal light requirements.
Evenly moist soil that’s not wet is best for the Daphne laureola. Mulching the soil around the plant can help keep the roots cool and nourish the plant.
Since the thick, glossy leaves can retain some water, the plant does not require extra watering unless there’s a period of hot and dry weather with scarce or no rainfall.
Temperature & Humidity
This plant grows best in USDA hardiness zones 6-9. In the UK, it’s hardy to zone 7. Average humidity is ideal for the spurge-laurel and considering its glossy, thick leaves, it can even tolerate some drought, but not excessively.
The spurge-laurel grows best in well-drained soil that is moderately fertile and rich in humus. The soil should not be dry, so maintaining some level of moisture of the soil is needed. Mulching the soil around the plant will keep the roots cool.
The Daphne laureola can grow in sand, chalk, loam or clay soils regardless of the pH of the soil. It will tolerate alkaline, acidic or neutral soil without issues.
Other than mulching the soil around the spurge-laurel, extra fertilizing is not needed. If growing conditions are otherwise optimal, the plant will grow without any further aid on your part.
Potting & Repotting
Because the Daphne laureola does not do well if its roots are disturbed, it’s a good idea to plant it in its permanent place as soon as the plant is big enough to be planted outside.
Spurge Laurel Plant Propagation
There are three ways in which you can propagate the spurge-laurel — from seeds, cuttings or layering.
If propagating from seeds, you must wait for the berries the spurge-laurel produces to become ripe. Once this happens, you can sow the seeds in containers.
If propagating from cuttings, you can propagate from greenwood cuttings in spring or late spring. You can also propagate from semi-ripe cuttings in summer.
From early spring to early summer, you can propagate by layering, which involves wounding a small part of the stem of the spurge-laurel, covering it with soil (you can put a large container so that it’s at the level of the stem) and keep the soil moist to encourage the formation of roots.
Because it can propagate through seeds, the spurge-laurel can “escape” from controlled environments or gardens and become invasive in places where they’re not desirable.
When it invades, the spurge-laurel can endanger local ecosystems by competing for resources with other plants.
Therefore, it’s important to be aware of any local regulations that prohibit the cultivation of this plant or recommend against it.
The FAQs below deal with the toxicity, control methods, diseases and other spurge-laurel related aspects that you should know before welcoming this plant in your garden.
Spurge Laurel FAQs
On the fence about the spurge-laurel plant? Here are some more facts that can help tilt the balance one way or another:
Is the Spurge Laurel Poisonous to Pets?
Yes, all parts of the spurge-laurel (leaves, berries, bark, etc.) are toxic to cats, dogs, and humans. The sap of the plant is also poisonous, so wear gloves and long-sleeved shirts when handling the plant.
How to Remove Spurge Laurels From the Garden?
Whether the spurge-laurel has taken up unwanted residence in your garden or just simply grew out of hand, it’s important to intervene aggressively to remove it from places where you don’t want it to grow.
Follow the tips below to eradicate the spurge-laurel from your garden:
- Hand-pull any seedlings (wear protective gloves!).
- Use a weed-wrench to pull larger plants, making sure to remove all the roots.
- Large plants should be cut as closely to the soil level and even slightly below soil and an herbicide should be used immediately after cutting (e.g. triclopyr).
Are sSpurge Laurels Affected by Diseases or Pests?
Aphids may take up residence on your spurge-laurels. The plant is also vulnerable to grey mold (Botrytis).
Do Spurge Laurels Bloom?
Yes, spurge laurels produce green-yellow blooms in late January to late March/early April. Blooms are fragrant and turn into black berries in early summer. All parts of this plant are poisonous.
The spurge-laurel has minimal maintenance requirements. It requires no pruning, no fertilizing, or any additional extra care. It has ornamental value, especially in flower borders or beds.
That said, in some areas this plant is considered an invasive species and cultivation may be regulated. In households with small children and pets, the cultivation of this plant is not recommended.
Since its removal comes with a few difficulties, it’s best to keep an eye on any seedlings that may arise around the plant and remove them as soon as possible.