One of our customer's had a question: Can I prune my Mountain Laurel and if so when is the best time? Also, can the Mountain Laurel handle topping (pruning which involves removing all branches and growths down to a few large branches)?
The answer is yes! Mountain Laurel plants rarely need to be pruned, although pinching off the seed heads after blooming time is over seems to promote better flowering for the next season. Should your Mountain Laurel plants get too tall for your landscape design plan, cut them back almost to ground level (topping). These tough shrubs can take a severe pruning when necessary. From stubs just a few inches above the ground new foliage will arise, and your plants will mature into large shrubs once again in about ten years' time.
Over-grown shrubs, such as hollies, ligustrum, camellia and mountain laurel, can be cut back to bare branches 2 to 4 feet (or lower) from the ground. The plant should recover in two to three years. Recovery depends on the health of the plant and cultural practices such as fertilization, mulching, watering and insect/disease control.
The best time to prune your Mountain Laurel is in the Late Spring/Early Summer. Pinch off clusters of spent blossoms. Remove a few old branches at the ground to induce new growth from roots.