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portuguese laurel hedge

Hedges Online FAQ: Why is my Portuguese Laurel Not Growing?

Are you having trouble getting your Portuguese Laurel hedge to grow? In this guide, we'll address some of the reasons why your hedges might not be thriving  and share ways to effectively overcome hedge growth challenges and ensure a healthy garden.

Understanding Portuguese Laurel Plants

Portuguese Laurel hedging, known botanically as Prunus lusitanica ‘Angustifolia’, is known for its resilience and versatility. With its relatively small dark green oval leaves and (usually) fast growth, it serves as an ideal choice for garden hedges for privacy. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, Portuguese Laurel plays a crucial role in garden landscaping, providing privacy, structure and year-round greenery.

Common Issues Affecting Growth

Several factors can hinder the growth of Portuguese Laurel hedging plants, detracting from their look and vitality including poor soil quality, inadequate sunlight exposure and various other reasons. By understanding these common issues, we can address them effectively and encourage healthy Laurel hedge growth.

Soil Quality

The foundation of robust growth of any member of the Prunus family lies in the soil quality which significantly impacts the health and vigour of Portuguese Laurel hedges. Conducting a soil test to assess pH levels and nutrient content can reveal any deficiencies that need to be addressed. For example, if the soil is too acidic or compacted, it may stunt root growth and nutrient uptake. Compaction of soil can be very detrimental as the roots find it hard to penetrate into the ground to establish themselves.  Compaction can also be detrimental in heavy soils for causing waterlogging of the ground which is never a good thing for your plants.


Insufficient sunlight can significantly impact the growth and vitality of Portuguese Laurel hedges. Sunlight serves as the primary source of energy for plants, driving photosynthesis and fuelling growth; without sun, Portuguese Laurel will struggle to produce healthy foliage. Although Portuguese Laurel are tolerant of some partial shading, having full sunlight is definitely preferable to get the best out of them.

Hedge Spacing

Hedge spacing is important for two main reasons. Firstly, it ensures that the hedge looks full when fully grown - essential for providing privacy. Secondly, proper spacing prevents overcrowding of the plants, allowing them to receive airflow and sunlight which means they grow at a steady rate without having to fight for resources. Remember with your spacing that it is key to think about the final height of the hedge you wish to keep – not the height that you are buying them at.  So, if you want to end up with a much taller hedge, plant them slightly further apart to begin with but if you are going to keep your hedge maintained at a low height, you can get away with planting them closer together.

Watering and Maintenance

Like any plant, proper watering and maintenance are essential for sustaining healthy Portuguese Laurel growth year-round. During periods of active growth, such as spring and summer, regular watering is necessary to maintain optimal soil moisture levels. Under-watering can result in soil dryness and dehydration, causing stress to the plant and impeding its ability to absorb essential nutrients. Signs of under-watering include wilting leaves, browning leaf margins, and overall reduced growth.

Over-watering, however, can have adverse effects which can lead to waterlogged soil, root suffocation, and increased susceptibility to root rot and other moisture-related diseases. With Portuguese Laurels in particular, it is not uncommon to see the leaves turning pale and eventually yellow which is often a sign that they are sitting in too much water.  This is a particularly prevalent issue when planting on heavier clayey soils.

Here’s how to water your hedge.

Mathias Nurseries Expert Advice and Solutions

Buy Compost or Manure

Incorporating organic matter such as compost or manure can improve soil structure and fertility, providing an optimal growing environment for Portuguese Laurel. Additionally, proper drainage is essential to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other moisture-related issues.

We sell multi-compost bags and farmyard manure which you can buy online.

Farmyard Manure

Adequate Sun Exposure

When selecting a planting location, consider factors such as exposure to morning or afternoon sun, as well as potential obstructions like buildings or trees that may cause shade. This will ensure fast plant growth and healthy foliage throughout the growing season.

Learn more about how to perfectly space your Laurel hedge.

Consistent Watering

Water deeply and consistently, ensuring the rootball is thoroughly soaked with each watering. Mulching around the base of the plant can help retain soil moisture and suppress weed growth, while also providing insulation against temperature fluctuations.

Leaky Hose is the only way to properly water your hedge. We sell leaky hose in rolls of either 15m, 25m or 50m and it is all made from recycled plastic.

Regular Pruning

Regular pruning is key to promoting dense, compact growth and maintaining the desired shape of the hedge. Remove any dead, damaged, or overgrown branches to improve air circulation and reduce the risk of pest and disease infestations. Avoid excessive pruning though as this can weaken the plant.

Read our guide on how to trim Portuguese Laurel hedges.

Customer Success Stories

"Really thrilled with our new Portuguese Laurel Hedge. As with any investment, you want to know you are getting a good quality product with a service to match. Big thanks to Hedges Online who were great value and very helpful in the decision process. Highly recommend!" - R.F. 

Get in Touch

For further guidance, get in touch with our team of planting experts who are passionate about helping customers like you and ensuring optimal hedge growth.

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