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Hedge plants: 8 local alternatives to cherry laurel

As a hedge plant, cherry laurel is not to everyone's taste. Here we present 8 alternatives from our native flora, which also have more to offer ecologically.

The cherry laurel is considered by garden designers to be the "thuja of the new millennium" because it is - like the tree of life in the 1970s - one of the most popular hedge plants today. Visually, the plants with their evergreen leathery leaves do not meet every taste. Many conservationists are also critical of the bushes: On the one hand, they are now spreading out in the wild as so-called neophytes in some regions of Germany, and on the other, there are better alternatives than hedge plants. For many, they are not only visually more appealing, but also frost-hardier and more valuable for the bird and insect world. Here we present you the best domestic alternatives to cherry laurel.

The first alternative to cherry laurel: the hornbeam

The hornbeam, in Latin Carpinus betulus, Commonly known as white beech, hornbeam or horn tree and is not a beech tree, but a birch tree. Its leaves are deep green, bright yellow to brown in autumn. As a hedge up to 70 centimeters high.

  • Plants: In May or in autumn as long as there was no frost. The hedge loves slightly limestone, humus or clay soil. Loosen the soil thoroughly before planting - the hornbeam hedge does not like permanent waterlogging. Keep a distance of 50 centimeters between two plants.
  • Care: Young plants like fertilizer made from ripe compost and horn shavings. With their deep roots, older plants are largely self-sufficient in nutrients. The fast-growing hornbeam should be cut into shape twice a year.

Second alternative to cherry laurel: the red beech

The European beech, in Latin Fagus sylvatica, impresses with its orange-red leaf color in autumn. The beechnuts contain small amounts of hydrogen cyanide and should therefore not be consumed in large amounts. However, due to the frequent topiary, hedge plants rarely produce fruit. Roasting also breaks down the toxin.

  • Plants: The common beech is more demanding than the hornbeam, likes it sunny and evenly fresh to slightly damp. A calcareous and loamy soil is ideal. The soil should be well prepared with compost before planting. However, the European beech is not suitable for summer-dry, very hot regions.
  • Care: Ideally, fertilization should be carried out in spring or summer and after planting; regular pruning is also good (preferably after flowering in spring). In contrast to the hornbeam, the red beech should be watered in good time when it is dry.

Third alternative to cherry laurel: the field maple

Field maple, botanically Acer campestre, is inexpensive, grows quickly and is therefore very popular for taller hedges.

  • Plants: Either in spring or autumn. For a dense hedge, plant three young plants per meter. Choose a sunny location (also watch out for shadows from the house). The soil should be rich in nutrients and well drained of water.
  • Care: The field maple hedge also needs regular fertilization and at least one cut per year so that it does not lose its shape. Older, very large and wide hedges can also be cut back to the basic structure if necessary. A cut is particularly recommended at the end of June so that the hedge will overgrow before winter. A second cut makes sense by the end of October or in spring. Field maple is very susceptible to powdery mildew: Although the fungus does not damage the plants permanently, it should nevertheless be combated as a preventive measure by spraying several times with diluted milk from the budding in spring.

Fourth alternative to cherry laurel: the sloe

The blackthorn, in Latin Prunus spinosa, also known as sloe, sloe, hedge thorn, black thorn or German acacia, forms a natural and thick hedge. Sloe hedges are a good place of retreat and food for animals. The blue-black, sour “wild plum” fruits can be harvested after the first night frosts and processed into jam or liqueur.

  • Plants: The sloe is undemanding, even grows on poor soil. Before planting, enrich the soil with compost; the main roots of bare-root bushes should be freshly cut. Caution: Blackthorn forms sprawling root runners that can only be contained with a root barrier. It is less suitable for cut hedges, as it naturally grows very sparsely and becomes quite wide. It is best to let it grow freely in the natural garden at the rear of the property and give the shrubs a strip of planting at least 150 cm wide.
  • Care: Hardly necessary. Only regularly cut off and remove the root outliers if necessary.

Fifth alternative to cherry laurel: the cornel cherry

The Cornelian cherry, in Latin Cornus mas, also called Herlitze, Dirlitze or Hirlnuss, grows into a three to six meter high shrub. The small yellow flowers open as early as the end of February and are valuable food for bees in the barren nature. In autumn the leaves turn yellow to orange. The red, edible fruits appear from August and are very rich in vitamins. In addition, the Cornelian cherry forms a good protective hedge for birds.

  • Plants: In spring or autumn - the sunnier the location, the better. Otherwise, the plants are undemanding and can cope with occasional drought. The only thing the Cornelian cherry does not like is transplanting.
  • Care: Particularly easy to care for, as it only requires water in exceptional cases and does not have to be fertilized. The hedge should be cut in April after the first flowering and possibly a second time in July.

Sixth alternative to cherry laurel: the hazelnut

The common hazel, Latin Corylus avellana, also hazel bush or hazelnut bush is a good alternative if you want a slightly higher hedge that should not be cut regularly. It can grow up to seven meters high. From the end of January to April it forms flowers in golden yellow catkins. Pollen allergy sufferers should, however, do without the plants, as the male kittens release a lot of pollen. The nuts are a source of food for native wild animals, birds use the hedge for nesting.

  • Plants: Quite undemanding with regard to the soil, only extremely wet, absorbent soil is unsuitable. Plant in spring or autumn. Important: The hazel bush grows quickly, becomes very wide and requires a lot of space, so it is unsuitable for small gardens. The red-leaved forms remain a little more compact.
  • Care: Mulching in autumn with deciduous humus, regularly cut off old shoots at the base after the nut harvest in autumn or after flowering in spring.

Seventh alternative to cherry laurel: the dog rose

The dog rose, Latin Rosa canina, is also known under the name dog rose. It has spines, blooms pink in June and forms elongated-oval, orange-red rose hips in autumn.

  • Plants: The location for the dog rose should be sunny to partial shade. It does not have high soil requirements and can also cope with poor sandy soils. They are best planted in autumn or spring, bare-root bushes around the end of March.
  • Care: The dog rose can withstand a lot of water, but must not stand waterlogged. Since it is a wild wood, the need for care is extremely low. For strong, bushy growth and a rich set of flowers, thin out regularly in spring. Less suitable as a topiary.

Eighth alternative to cherry laurel: the mountain ash

The rowan or mountain ash, in Latin Sorbus aucuparia, is a pretty sight with its pinnate leaves and red pods in autumn. It grows freely up to 15 meters high and therefore has to be cut into shape regularly. The berries are eaten by many species of birds. They are very rich in vitamins, but when raw they are floury and very acidic and therefore hardly edible in large quantities.

  • Plants: Planting in the spring or autumn in a sunny to partial shade, does not place great demands on the soil. She prefers a nutrient-poor clay or sandy soil. Even boggy ground cannot harm it.
  • Care: Slightly susceptible to powdery mildew and fire blight, is occasionally attacked by aphids.

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