Skip Laurel (Schip Laurel): Leaves, Flowers, Fruit (Pictures) – Identification and Care Guide 

Skip Laurel care and identification

Skip laurel is an upright leafy evergreen shrub and a cultivar of the popular hedge plant Prunus laurocerasus (cherry laurel). Also called Schip laurel or Schipka cherry laurel, the fast-growing shrub has glossy green pointed leaves, clusters of fragrant white flowers, and blackish-purple berries. This dense, spreading, rounded shrub thrives in almost any soil type when growing in full sun to partial shade.

Skip cherry laurel shrubs are typically the go-to plants for growing a lush, dense privacy hedge in a front or backyard. Apart from keeping their luscious green color throughout the year, skip laurels require little maintenance when established. The only care required is to trim its foliage once or twice a year to maintain its shape.

This article is a complete guide to growing skip laurel in your garden. You will learn how to identify this drought-tolerant plant by its fragrant white blossoms and dense evergreen foliage. In addition, this information will give you ideas on where to plant this poplar beautiful shrub in your garden landscape.

What is Skip Laurel (Schip Laurel)

Skip laurel (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis’)

Skip laurel (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis’)

Skip laurel (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis’) is a smaller cherry laurel cultivar than other laurel shrubs. The attractive evergreen shrub has a natural spreading vase shape with a rounded crown. Typically, a skip laurel shrub grows 10 to 15 ft. (3 m – 4.5 m) tall and up to 7 ft. (2.1 m) wide.

Skip laurel plants shouldn’t be confused with other popular plants called laurels. For example, the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) is an edible herbaceous shrub in the family Lauraceae. However, skip laurel—like cherry laurels and English laurels—is an unrelated species of inedible plant in the family Rosaceae.

Skip laurels are easy to maintain at a height of 4 to 6 ft. (1.2 – 1.8 m). The small, narrow leaves are easy to trim. The foliage stays relatively neat after trimming—neater than a cherry laurel hedge. Additionally, the showy white flowers and clusters of black berries contrast with shiny green foliage, giving the hedge shrub year-long visual appeal.

Skip laurel shrubs and hedges are cold-hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9.

Skip Laurel Vs. Cherry Laurel (English Laurel)

Skip laurel is a variety of cherry laurel, with the primary difference being leaf size and shrub size. Skip laurel is an evergreen shrub that is smaller than  Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). Compared to a cherry laurel, skip laurel has smaller leaves that are more pointed and lance-shaped than cherry laurel leaves. The small Schip laurel shrub leaves create a neat, clean shape after pruning.

Skip Laurel Hedge

Skip laurel shrubs make great privacy screens because they’re low maintenance and stay green throughout the year. The leaves are glossy and neat, making them perfect for screening your yard or garden. Additionally, skip laurels are compact with dense foliage—ideal as a hedge for privacy. Finally, these vibrant evergreen shrubs thrive in full sun and do well in the shade.

Skip laurel shrubs have a moderate to fast growth rate, spreading vase shape, and ability to withstand poor conditions, full sun, shade, and drought. These qualities combine to make skip laurel one of the most popular shrubs for hedges.

How to Plant Skip Laurel Hedge

Plant the skip laurel shrubs two to three feet (0.6 – 1 m) apart to grow as a laurel hedge. To create a denser, broad hedge, you can plant the skip laurel bushes in a staggered pattern, six feet (1.8 m) apart and 3 feet (1 m) from the first row.

When planting a skip laurel hedge, the first task is to dig a trench where you want the natural barrier. The hole should be 12” (30 cm) deep and allow the rooted shrub to grow at the same height as in the container. Next, plant the laurel shrubs 2 ft. (0.6 m) apart and backfill the hole or trench with soil amended with a loam-based compost.

Remember to firm down the soil to remove air pockets and provide support to the shrubs. After filling the hole, water the ground thoroughly

Skip Laurel Leaves

Leaves on a skip laurel evergreen shrub are identified as leathery, glossy green, lanceolate blades with serration near the pointed apex. The pointed, long dark green leaves measure 4” (10 cm) from petiole to tip and 2” (5 cm) at the widest part.

Skip Laurel Flowers

Skip Laurel Flowers

Skip laurel flowers

Showy white flower clusters (racemes) characterize a skip laurel shrub. The highly aromatic cylindrical clusters of white flowers bloom in spring, filling gardens with color and fragrance. The skip laurel racemes grow upward and measure around 4” (10 cm) long. Each flower cluster consists of tiny white flowers.

When in bloom, skip laurel shrubs turn almost white due to their abundant flowers. The fuzzy-looking white laurel flowers resemble a bottle brush. The skip laurel hedge blooms in early spring, and the flowers persist until summer.

Skip Laurel Fruit

Fruit from a skip laurel shrub is clusters of blackish-purple berry-like drupes that appear in summer after the plant has finished flowering. Each black drupe looks like a tiny cherry and contains a single seed. The round dark berry-like fruits measure about 0.4” (1 cm) across and ripen in late summer and early fall.

How to Identify Skip Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus ‘Schipkaensis’)

Skip laurel identification is by its leaves, flowers, and fruit. Skip laurel shrub has a vase-shaped growth habit with recognizable glossy leaves that stay on the plant all year long. Clusters of white flower cylinders bloom in early spring, followed by dark purple or black berries in the fall.

How to Use Skip Laurel (Schip Laurel) in Your Landscape

Although skip laurel is a popular hedge plant to use as a privacy screen or natural fence, there are other ways to use it in the garden. This flowering shrub is ideal for your landscape wherever you want an upright or rounded shrub. You can leave the foliage clipped or unclipped for a more informal look.

For example, the evergreen shrub can grow as a small specimen tree in a lawn or mixed flower bed. Alternatively, the shrub is an ideal foundation plant if you prune it to maintain its height. Or the tall, columnar habit of skip laurel makes it suitable for planting as an accent at the corner of a house.

How to Plant Skip Laurel

To plant a skip laurel shrub, dig a hole three times the size of the root ball and the same depth as the container. Place the shrub in the center of the planting hole and backfill the space with native soil amended with compost. Press the ground firmly to remove any air pockets and water thoroughly.

Where to Plant Skip Laurel

Plant skip laurel shrubs in full sun or partial shade. The ideal location to plant skip laurel is in a sunny part of your garden. However, you don’t need to worry about shade, as laurel shrubs perform well in all light levels. The shade won’t cause the glossy green leaves to weaken, and direct sunlight won’t yellow them.

One of skip laurel’s best features is its tolerance for poor conditions. However, before planting the shrubs, ensure that the location is well-draining. The hardy laurel plant can grow in most types of soil—clay, loamy, sandy, or rocky soil. It can also tolerate urban pollution, and it thrives in coastal regions.

Growing Skip Laurel in Pots

Skip laurel is an ideal container plant. Choose a sturdy ceramic or terracotta pot that will provide enough support. It’s also vital to ensure the container has drainage holes to prevent soggy soil.

Half-fill the pot with a loose, organic-rich potting mix amended with perlite for drainage. Put the plant in so that the roots are just below the soil line. Fill the pot with the remaining soil, leaving a 2” space from the rim.

To care for a container-growing skip laurel, place the container in full sun or partial shade. Only water the shrub when the top 2” (5 cm) is dry. Then thoroughly water the plant until water drains from the bottom. You can apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer for shrubs in the spring.

Skip Laurel Growth Rate

Skip laurel has moderate to fast growth and will grow around 24” (60 cm) a year. If left to grow without pruning, the laurel shrubs mature at 10 to 15 ft. (3 m – 4.5 m) tall. However, they can grow taller. Regular pruning allows you to manage its height between 2 and 6 ft. (0.6 – 1.8 m).

Skip Laurel Care Guide — How to Grow Schip Laurel

Skip laurel is a hardy evergreen shrub with few care requirements. Cherry laurels grow well even if you forget about them. However, proper care will let you have a luscious shrub or privacy hedge in your front or backyard.

Let’s look in detail at how to care for a skip cherry laurel in your garden.

How to Water Skip Laurel Shrubs

Water an established skip cherry laurel bush once a week to keep the ground moist. However, laurels are relatively drought-tolerant and can go a few weeks without water. But in extreme heat, you will need to water the soil regularly—maybe more than once weekly—to ensure healthy growth.

Newly-planted skip laurel plants require regular watering. You will have to water the soil every day for the first week after planting. Then gradually reduce the frequency to once a week.

A vital care consideration with skip laurel shrubs is that they don’t like soggy soil. Therefore, don’t overwater the ground so that it becomes waterlogged. Instead, always allow the top layer of soil to dry before watering.

Adding a layer of mulch can help to keep the ground moist and supply nutrients throughout the growing season.

Fertilizing Skip Laurel Plants

The best fertilizer for a skip laurel shrub is a balanced fertilizer for evergreen trees and hedges. For example, you could apply a slow-release fertilizer with an NPK rating of 15-15-15 in spring. Or you can use organic compost or rotted manure to increase the nutrient level and encourage growth.

The best time to fertilize the soil is in spring and late summer. However, it’s vital to avoid over-fertilizing a skip laurel. Additionally, you should avoid adding fertilizer after August because you may stimulate new growth that will die off in winter.

When and How to Prune Skip Laurel

Pruning a skip laurel helps maintain its height and allows you to grow a beautiful formal or informal hedge. Skip cherry laurels can withstand heavy pruning at any time of year. But it’s usually best to trim branches in spring after the hedge has bloomed.

To prune a skip laurel hedge, regularly trim branches of young plants. This helps to produce dense foliage. In addition, you should always trim back the upper branches to allow light to reach the lower limbs. This way, you have a hedge with dense foliage at ground level.

To maintain a skip laurel hedge, prune the branches twice a year. First in early spring, then again in summer. You should remove branches rather than using a hedge trimmer to cut foliage. In addition, always keep the top of the hedge thin to prevent lower foliage from becoming sparse.

Skip Laurel Propagation

Using stem cuttings is the best way to propagate a skip cherry laurel shrub. In winter, use sharp pruners to cut a length of new growth that is 5” to 6” (13 – 15 cm) long, ensuring that it is cut directly at the main stem. Then remove all the lower leaves, apart from three or four at the top.

Strip some of the bark from the cut end. Next, fill a pot with moist potting soil. Then make a hole in the center and pour in an inch of sand. Lastly, put the cutting about 4” (10 cm) in the hole and press the soil around it.

To root a skip laurel cutting, keep the pot in a sunny, sheltered place and water just enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Then, when any danger of frost has passed, you can put the container outdoors in a sunny spot. After 12 months, the cutting should be strong enough to transplant to your garden.

Pests Affecting Skip Laurel Shrubs

Established skip laurel shrubs are relatively free from pests. If you care for the evergreen hedge and it gets plenty of sun, bugs, mites, and destructive insects shouldn’t be a problem. However, nasty creatures like vine weevils, scale insects, thrips, spider mites, and slugs can cause immature or weak plants problems.

Vine weevils are a type of black beetle, and their larvae live in the ground, feeding on roots. The white grubs can damage the roots of young plants, causing them to die. However, they rarely affect well-established plants.

To remove tiny bugs and insects like aphids, whitefly, and spider mites, you can use the garden hose. A short, sharp blast of water can dislodge pesky insects and stop them from feeding on the leaves.

But suppose you notice caterpillars destroying skip laurel leaves. In that case, You should remove caterpillars from your skip laurel plants by hand. You can also use sticky horticultural tape to prevent them from moving around the shrub’s stems and branches.

Scale insects on skip laurel shrubs are tricky to identify because they look like bumpy growths. However, the sap-sucking insects rarely cause harm to a robust skip laurel plant.

The good news is that skip laurel shrubs are deer resistant.

Diseases Affecting Skip Laurel Growth

Skip laurel is a hardy evergreen shrub that withstands disease relatively well. However, overwatering or too much humidity can cause many problems for laurel shrubs. Common diseases affecting skip cherry laurels are powdery mildew, root rot, and cherry laurel shot hole.

Ensuring adequate water drainage is essential to prevent skip cherry laurel root rot. Therefore, never allow the ground to become overly damp or soggy. A little bit of drought is better than ‘wet feet’ to keep your luscious hedge healthy.

Powdery mildew on skip laurel leaves looks like an unsightly dusting of white powder. This harmless fungal foliar disease occurs in cool, damp weather. Pruning the shrubs to increase airflow through the foliage helps prevent powdery mildew.

A fungal infection causes brown spots and holes on skip laurel leaves, usually in warm, humid conditions. Pruning and destroying affected limbs and foliage is enough to control cherry laurel shot hole.

Is Skip Laurel Toxic?

Skip cherry laurel is a poisonous plant containing toxins that can cause serious health problems if ingested by humans or animals. In addition, if you have any variety of Prunus laurocerasus, including ‘Schipkaensis,’ you should ensure that pets or children don’t accidentally eat the leaves or black berries.

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