It is Mountain Laurel season here at the farm! And this is our twentieth crop of mountain laurels! We’ve learned a few things about them these past few decades – maybe there’s something that will help you.
Texas mountain laurels are tricky to propagate and even trickier to transplant. They grow naturally in the Texas Hill Country where their roots seem to find nooks and crannies in the rock to grow into and anchor themselves. Mountain laurels grow a few long roots and very few fibrous roots – which means that there’s not much to hold the rootball together.
A couple of tips when digging and moving mountain laurels
- Harvest time is based off of climate and not on the calendar. Colder climate equals dormant trees. Dormant trees equal less stress at harvest. When our winter weather is late, harvesting may not begin until January.
- The root ball must be dry and firm before transport. A firm root ball protects the tree’s roots. A wet root ball will be soft and squishy (and heavy) and will have a high chance of breaking. A broken root ball will damage or kill a mountain laurel.
- We cure our trees to make sure that they have survived the shock of being harvested.
These are the steps we take at harvest:
- First we start by carefully tying up the canopy. This protects the branches and makes them easier to handle.
2. A straight shovel is used to loosen the soil around the root maker bag. Small roots have grown through the bag sides. They need to be cut before the trees can be lifted from the ground.
3. Now they go from the field to the curing yard. Each tree is loaded into a bucket for the trip.
4. When the mountain laurels arrive at the yard, they are placed on a hand dolly and are carefully place into position. Each one is securely tied so they don’t topple over.
5. The trees are watered every day. After 21 days of curing, the trees are ready for pick-up or to be shipped.
As you transplant mountain laurels, remember they must be handled with great care! Don’t drop or roll the trees to move them to a new location. These are delicate beauties that need the white glove service!