Kalmia latifolia is a large, slow growing rounded evergreen shrub. Varying in overall mature height this medium textured shrub can reach heights of 10 to 15 feet and even larger. There are a few selected cultivars that maintain a significantly smaller form factor.Requiring acidic, moist well drained soils this shrub produces a fibrous root system and is hardy to zones 4-9. Dark green leaves (2 to 5” long and ¾ to 1 ½ inch wide) offer a great backdrop to the showy flowers. Flowering in the months of May and June these impressive flowers are ¾ to 1” across varying in color from white to pink to a deep red.
Well suited for planting in a border or even a wooded setting this plant prefers full sun to partial shade. Offering a great backbone to any garden design this is a great substitute or companion to rhododendron plantings.
There are many cultivars in production, just to name a few:
‘Kaleidoscope’ – Mahogany red flower with white margins and a red center.
‘Minuet’ – A dwarf form with pale pink buds and flowers pink with a maroon band.
‘Olympic Fire’ – Pictured to the Right- Dark red buds and pink flowers. High resistance to leaf spot. (Personal success with this variety. I planted this one in my mother’s yard. Slow grower, with great features.)
‘Ostbo Red’ – Red buds reveal muted pink flowers.