Sheep laurel Kalmia angustifolia

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
sheep laurel


The plant commonly known as Sheep Laurel has a distinctive and attractive appearance characterized by its glossy, dark green leaves which are narrow, oblong, and arranged oppositely along its stems. The foliage often turns to striking shades of red during the fall, adding seasonal interest to the plant's appearance. In spring and early summer, Sheep Laurel produces clusters of small, intricate flowers that range in color from deep to pale pink, often with a unique star-shaped pattern or radial symmetry. The blooms are saucer-shaped and have stamens that are arched, with the tips tucked into tiny pockets, giving the flowers a whimsical and somewhat geometric look. The overall impression is one of dense foliage interspersed with vibrant floral displays, creating a lush and textured visual impact in its natural habitat.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Sheep Laurel, Lambkill, Narrow-Leaved Mountain Laurel, Bog Laurel, Spoonwood, Sheep Poison, Lambkill Kalmia.

    • Common names

      Cistus laureola, Kalmia angustifolia var. caroliniana, Kalmia angustifolia var. myrtifolia, Kalmia angustifolia var. rubra.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2-5 feet [0.6-1.5 meters]

    • Spread

      2-4 feet [0.6-1.2 meters]

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      North America


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attracts Pollinators: Kalmia angustifolia, commonly known as Sheep Laurel, provides nectar and pollen for bees and other beneficial insects, aiding in pollination.
    • Landscape Aesthetics: With its beautiful pink to purple flowers and evergreen leaves, Sheep Laurel enhances the visual appeal of natural landscapes and gardens.
    • Habitat Support: The plant serves as a habitat for wildlife, offering shelter and protection for various small animals and insects.
    • Erosion Control: Sheep Laurel's root system helps stabilize soil, reducing erosion in sloped areas and controlling runoff.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, Sheep Laurel is relatively drought-tolerant, making it a practical choice for low-maintenance or xeric landscapes.
    • Low Maintenance: This plant requires minimal care once established, making it a good choice for gardeners looking for low-maintenance options.
    • Winter Interest: As an evergreen, Kalmia angustifolia provides color and interest in the landscape even during the cold winter months.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Kalmia angustifolia, commonly known as sheep laurel, is sometimes used in the art of bonsai due to its small leaves and attractive flowers.
    • The wood of sheep laurel is hard and can be used for making small handcrafted objects such as tool handles or intricate carvings.
    • Sheep laurel has been used as a component in floral arrangements and wreaths because of its showy flowers and evergreen leaves.
    • In certain cultures, the branches and leaves of sheep laurel are utilized in traditional ceremonies and decorations.
    • The dyes extracted from the leaves and flowers of sheep laurel can be used in textile arts for coloring fabrics.
    • Leaves of sheep laurel can serve as a natural insect repellent, although care should be taken due to its toxicity to humans and animals.
    • Sheep laurel can act as a natural soil stabilizer on slopes and banks, helping to prevent erosion in certain environments.
    • It is sometimes planted as a low-maintenance, decorative ground cover in large landscapes or parks.
    • The dense thickets formed by sheep laurel can provide valuable habitat and protection for various species of wildlife.
    • When dried and cured, the foliage of sheep laurel can contribute to potpourri mixtures due to its aromatic properties.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Sheep Laurel is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Sheep Laurel is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Caution: Kalmia angustifolia, commonly known as sheep laurel, can be toxic to livestock and humans if ingested, and as such, it often symbolizes the need for caution or warning in various situations.
    • Protection: In some traditions, sheep laurel is considered to offer protection due to its ability to grow in harsh conditions and its evergreen nature, implying an enduring safeguard.
    • Beauty and Ambition: The sheep laurel's attractive flowers are associated with the aesthetic beauty of nature as well as the ambition to thrive in challenging environments, representing both natural beauty and the pursuit of success.
    • Survival and Adaptability: As a plant that can thrive in poor soil and resist cold climates, sheep laurel symbolizes the ability to survive and adapt to difficult circumstances.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Early Spring
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Sheep Laurel should be watered thoroughly, allowing the soil to become moist without getting waterlogged. Typically, it needs about 1 to 1.5 gallons of water per week, but this can vary based on climate and soil conditions. During the growing season, in spring and summer, it may require more frequent watering, especially in dry spells, but it's important to reduce watering in the fall and further in the winter. Overwatering can cause root rot, so ensure good drainage and allow the topsoil to dry out slightly between watering.

  • sunLight

    Sheep Laurel thrives in partial shade, preferring a spot that offers protection from the harsh afternoon sun. It does well with morning sunlight and dappled shade throughout the day. Ensure the plant is positioned in a location that mimics its natural understory habitat for optimal growth.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Sheep Laurel is hardy and can withstand minimum temperatures down to about -40 degrees Fahrenheit; however, it prefers a cooler climate and does best in a range of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal temperature conditions allow for a little fluctuation, avoiding extreme heat which can stress the plant.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Sheep Laurel to maintain its shape, remove any dead or diseased wood, and encourage airflow which can prevent fungal diseases. The best time to prune is immediately after flowering, typically in late spring or early summer, to allow new buds to form for the next season. Pruning too late in the year can remove the next year's flower buds.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Sheep Laurel prefers acidic, well-draining soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5. A good soil mix for them would be a blend of peat moss, sand, and a pine bark-based soil conditioner to encourage proper drainage and maintain the right acidity levels.

  • plantRepotting

    Sheep Laurel does not need to be repotted often, generally only when the roots have completely filled the pot. This can take several years, as they are slow growers and prefer to be slightly root-bound.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Sheep Laurel thrives in moderate to high humidity levels but is adaptable to average ambient humidity when grown indoors or in its natural outdoor range.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place Sheep Laurel in a cool, bright spot away from direct sun.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Sheep Laurel in partial shade with acidic soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      2-6 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Sheep laurel, also known as Kalmia angustifolia, begins its life cycle as a seed, which germinates in moist, well-drained acidic soils, typically in spring to early summer. Seedlings emerge with delicate roots and a pair of primary leaves, growing into young plants that develop true leaves and a woody stem. A perennial shrub, over several years it matures and reaches reproductive maturity, typically between 4 to 5 years of age, when it produces clusters of pink to purple flowers in late spring to early summer. Following pollination by insects, the plant sets seed in fruit capsules that, once dried, release seeds to start a new generation. Throughout its life, the sheep laurel experiences seasonal growth cycles, with foliage expanding in spring and summer, and entering dormancy in winter. Over time, the shrub may spread through the production of clonal offshoots, producing a thicket as part of its vegetative growth stage.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Early Spring

    • Kalmia angustifolia, commonly known as Sheep Laurel, is often propagated by cuttings. The best time for taking cuttings is during the late summer, after the plant has finished blooming and new growth has started to harden. To propagate Sheep Laurel by cuttings, tip cuttings of about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) are snipped from the current year's growth. The bottom leaves are removed, and the cut end of the cutting can be dipped in rooting hormone powder to enhance root formation. The treated cutting is then placed in a well-draining soil mix, ensuring at least one or two nodes are buried where leaves were removed. The cutting should be kept under a humidity dome or in an environment with high humidity to prevent it from drying out before it can develop roots. Maintaining consistent moisture without overwatering is key until roots are established, which can be checked by gently tugging the cutting to feel for resistance after a few weeks.