Prunus laurocerasus – English Laurel has long been a standard hedging material much in part to its vigorous growth habit, tolerance of partial shade and good density. This RHS Award of Garden Merit winner should be trimmed with sharp shears in order to achieve a tidy flat surface. It can be maintained at average sizes of 8 to 15′ high by 5 to 8′ wide. Hardy to zone 6.
Prunus laurocerasus ‘Otto Lukyen’ – This is a dwarf cultivar of English Laurel with smaller (up to 4.5″ long) darker green leaves and white fragrant flowers that often appear on hedging specimens. It is an RHS Award of Garden Merit winner and best used as a low plant barrier that works well by driveways. Seldom forms a perfectly flat-topped hedge. Grows 3′ high by 5′ wide. Zone 6.
Prunus lusitanica – Portuguese Laurel is a native of southwest Europe and a good choice for gardeners who prefer a more refined looking hedge. The glossy deep green leaves are borne on red petioles and fragrant white flower clusters show in early summer if not pruned too heavily. It is an RHS Award of Garden Merit winner. Grows 15′ high by 9′ wide (in cultivation). Zone 7.
Prunus lusitanica ‘Variegata’ – A variegated Portuguese Laurel that makes for an interesting hedge or focal plant with glossy deep green leaves generously edged in creamy-white and held on bright red stems that show rather well. This cultivar is slower growing than the species but that may prove to be an advantage for some. Grows 8′ high by 6′ wide in 10 years. Zone 7.
Prunus laurocerasus ‘Reynvaanii’ – Russian Laurel is the hardiest laurel available with thinner, more refined leaves (darker green) than the species and fragrant white flowers in spring if not clipped too heavily. It has an ascending branch habit although the leaves on the lower sides of sheared specimens will point downwards. It can be maintained at 6-9′ high by 4-6′ wide. Hardy to zone 5.