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Kalmia latifolia, also known as mountain laurel, is now in bloom.

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio
Making It Grow, with host Amanda McNulty

Hello, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Although the common name of Kalmia latifolia is mountain laurel, you can find this handsome evergreen native plant growing, often in thickets, from the mountains to the sea. Dr. John Nelson tells me that there’s a group of them at Fort Jackson on the sandiest soil imaginable. They have glossy, thick leaves that persist for two years and a contorted trunk with reddish, somewhat exfoliating, bark. But the joy is the flowers – at the ends of branches from April through June are clusters of flowers, from white to light, or darker pink with fused petals. The flowers have indented structures, stamen pockets. Male flower parts, which are tucked in those petals, awaiting the visit of insects, primarily bumble bees, whose landing triggers a release, flinging pollen over the insect that will cross-pollinate subsequent blooms it visits.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.