Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) is an evergreen multi trunk shrub or small tree depending on how you choose to plant and train it in your garden. It can be kept pruned to your liking and since it is slow growing you will not be trimming it every week like you would other shrubs. As a rule it is a smaller garden accent plant but it can reach heights of up to 25 to 30 feet. Realistically Texas Mountain Laurel stays within heights of 10 to 15 ft. or so and it would take it YEARS to get anywhere close to 30 feet but choose the right spot in your garden for it and make sure it has room to do what you want it to do. Make sure you plant it in a spot where it will get either full sun, to partial shade but it can and does tolerate our modest Texas heat.
This plant has many impressive attributes but I will describe its two most impressive features first.
Texas Mountain Laurel is one of the earliest bloomers, letting you know that “Spring is Here” and it’s fragrance will drive you nuts. It’s fragrance is reminiscent of grape soda or grape jelly and most people like it, but most bees LOVE it… Do yourself a favor and learn to share it with the bees as it is so worth planting.
This second feature of this plant may just tip the scales of desirability more so for you. This feature is that Texas Mountain Laurel is Very, Very, Drought Tolerant. When first planted you must water it regularly, but eventually it can actually tolerate just what nature gives it. “Drought-tolerant” plants must be watered regularly for the first year or so before they can truly be considered to be “drought-tolerant” in your garden. Many gardeners will tell you to water this plant regularly for growth, but to let nature water it for blooms. Now that you know this consider planting this plant in a raised or very well drained bed with little direct sprinkler coverage. Like most plants, Texas Mountain Laurel will benefit from regular fertilizing prior to blooming to maximize the number and size of it’s flowers.
One last item of importance is the seed pod. As with many beautiful plants there is a danger of toxicity from this plants bright red seeds. Please don’t use it if you have small children or puppies or dogs that are not too bright, beccause it won’t be pretty. Fortunately, the same seed coating that protects the seed of Texas Mountain Laurel from drought, will also allow the seed if swallowed to pass through the body safely in most cases. Still it’s better to be safe than sorry, and who wants to search for passed seeds anyway?
If you would like to see Texas Mountain Laurel before you plant it in your garden there is a huge old ancient one on the nursery property. It was originally planted on the side of an old tin garden shed but the shed was removed a few years ago. Because of this, it grew kinda one-sided but nevertheless it is spectacular and breathtaking every single year.
Height: up to 25′
Light requirement: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Blooms: Early spring