The Portugal or Portuguese Laurel, Prunus lusitanica, is a vigorous, hardy, evergreen shrub and excellent hedging plant for difficult areas with poor soil, full shade or powerful, cold winds. It grows on chalk, on the coast or in the middle of a city. Its only requirement is a reasonably well drained soil. It can also be grown as a medium sized specimen tree.
Portugal Laurel can be grown as a hedge of any height over about 1.5 metres. If you prune your plants so that they grow into a single stemmed tree, they can reach 15-20 metres in a sunny location.
Browse all of our other varieties of Laurel Hedging plants for sale, see our selection of evergeen hedging or see our full range of hedging plants.
Portugal Laurel hedge plants are delivered bareroot during winter (Nov-March) and pot-grown year round. Bareroot Portuguese Laurel shrubs are cheaper than pot grown plants. Pot grown Portugal Laurel is available in the largest sizes.
Choosing a size:
When you are ordering Portugal Laurel plants for a hedge, we generally recommend that you use the smaller, bareroot plants. They are cheaper than the larger, pot grown plants, easier to handle and they will establish well in poor conditions.
Use larger plants if you want a taller hedge quickly if you want to clip them as topiary or for instant impact.
All our hedge plants are measured by their height in centimetres above the ground (the roots aren't measured).
Spacing a Portuguese Laurel hedge:
Plant bareroot Portugal Laurel hedging at 2-3 plants per metre, 33-50cms apart. Closer spacing will give you a dense hedge more quickly.
Plant pot-grown Portugal Laurel at 2 plants per metre, 50cms apart.
General description of Portugal Laurel plants:
If you need an evergreen hedge for a trouble spot, Prunus lusitanica is the plant for you. It will grow on practically any soil with decent drainage, including shallow chalk. It tolerates full shade and can grow close to the sea. It is more drought resistant than other laurels and despite its temperate name, it also hardier (hardier than Common Laurel, which also won't grow on chalk. Portugal Laurel is slightly less vigorous, however).
Portuguese Laurel's leaves are lush, glossy and clip neatly into a formal hedge. They make a great windbreak, block out light and will go some way towards muffling the sound of traffic. The young spring foliage has a pink tinge, which remains on the leaf stalks after the leaves mature into a rich green colour.
If it is not trimmed hard, Prunus lusitanica will produce small white flowers in June, which rise up in cone-shaped spires called racemes and give off a fine scent, similar to Hawthorn.
The flowers are followed by berries that turn from red to purple as they ripen. Birds will eat these, but they slightly poisonous to humans; fortunately they too bitter for a child to eat one. As with all laurels, Portuguese Laurel provides excellent winter cover for birds and game.
History & uses of Prunus lusitanica
This plant is native to Spain, Portugal and West Africa; despite this, it is fully hardy everywhere in Britain. It was first introduced to the Oxford Botanic Garden in 1648. It has won the RHS Award of Garden Merit for being an attractive plant that is easy to grow.