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Bay Laurel - Laurus nobilis (page 2)

Planting and Care of Bay

When planting a Bay tree (Latin name Laurus nobilis), be aware that without pruning the tree will grow to 12m (40ft) high by 10m (32ft) wide. If left to grow this big, it will also take the lion's share of soil nutrients for several metres around.

The Bay tree is however very suited to pruning, and can be kept to any height and width if suitable pruning is carried out.

When purchasing a Bay tree, it is likely to be either around 20cm high (9 ins) or 60 to 80cm (2ft to 2ft 9in) high. The larger the plant, the more expensive it will be. They are most commonly available in autumn / fall or mid-spring. Planting the tree is straight forward, ensure that it is planted to the same depth as the soil mark on the trunk.

If you wish to buy a Bay Laurel online now using the GardenAction approved supplier (Crocus), CLICK HERE (UK only).

Prune to shape each spring - a pair of secateurs is all that is required. During the first two years, the leaves should be harvested in moderate amounts only for use as a herb in stews and other meat dishes. Aside from applying a long-lasting fertiliser to the surrounding soil for the first two years, and watering when conditions are dry, your Bay laurel tree will be happy to look after itself.

If any weeding is required around Bay laurel, do this by hand. This is because bay has a very shallow root system which can easily be damaged by digging too near the stem.

Propagating Bay Laurel
There are three methods of propagating bay - layering, sowing seeds and taking cuttings. 

Bay Laurel seeds should be sown in the spring. Use moist, but definitely not water-saturated compost. Place the seeds on the surface and just barely cover them with dry compost. Place the container in the dark, ideally at a temperature of around 65F (21C). 

Success is erratic and the seeds can take as long as 3 months to sprout a shoot. But normally they take about 3 to 4 weeks. The big danger with bay seeds is that they rot before they germinate.  Bay Laurel Tree. Click to enlarge. Copyright David Marks.

Take cuttings in late summer to early autumn. It is very difficult to be successful with cuttings. Choose ripe shoots between 9 to 15cm (4 to 6in) long using a knife - leave part of the main stem (a heel) on the cutting. Trim so that only three or for leaves remain and place the cutting in a small pot filled with potting compost. Label the plant and place it in a site with no direct sunlight (a cold frame is ideal). One essential is high humidity, so a heated propagator offers the best chance of success. The cutting will have rooted after one year or so. 

Layering is done as normal. Simply bend a stem down to the ground. Using a penknife, make a small nick in the stem where it touches the soil. Cover the stem with soil and secure it there with stones or wire it down. Shoots should appear in six to twelve months. The best time to layer is in spring.




Name: jim@GardenAction
Date posted: January 23, 2012 - 05:05 pm
Message: A tree that size should not pose too many problems. Plan the move for the dormant period, give the tree a good 'wrench' and wait six months or so for new roots to form. Prepare the new site to receive the tree. Remove the tree with as much soil as possible to relocate to the new spot. Replant, firm soil and water regularly.

Name: Caroline
Date posted: January 23, 2012 - 02:43 pm
Message: I have just moved into a new house that has a 4ft bay leaf tree in the back garden and we are going to be re landscaping and would like to relocate it, can you offer any advice please.

Name: Rick C
Date posted: January 06, 2012 - 09:55 am
Message: Help! I live in Massachusetts- I put my bay trees out in the Summer and they thrive- I bring them in in Winter and they develop this sticky, shiny mess on the leaves, turn brown and fall off- looks like there is some insect on it as well- what can I use to get rid of this condition? Many thanks-

Name: jim@GardenAction
Date posted: November 16, 2011 - 05:36 pm
Message: Bay trees are reasonably hardy but you may get a polar blast even in Dallas. Err on the side of caution and keep it in for the winter.

Name: Ken
Date posted: November 16, 2011 - 03:26 pm
Message: I have the same question as Debbie...I bought a Bay tree this summer ...I live in Dallas , Tx ..Can I leave it outside for the winter? How cold hardy is the Bay Leaf Tree?

Name: ron g bayting
Date posted: September 24, 2011 - 04:34 am
Message: what is the best way to propagate/multiply bay leaves tree? it can be done thru marcotting/rooting?

Name: Debby Flores
Date posted: September 10, 2011 - 10:01 pm
Message: I live in Kansas City area; I bought my bay tree this year. Can I leave my bay tree outside all winter? It has been very healthy all summer, grown about 2 feet in a pot.

E-mail: Private
Date posted: August 24, 2011 - 11:24 am
Message: same prob as a few of the others all leaves turned brown,but still very plyable,dead or not

Name: marion alexander
E-mail: Private
Date posted: August 06, 2011 - 12:33 am
Message: I have a bay tree in a pot 2ft high it has developed yellow spots on the leaves, we live in sub-tropical zone, gets very dry but this last year tons of rain. What should I feed it, as it seems to be some sort of deficiency?

Name: Valentyna
E-mail: Private
Date posted: July 17, 2011 - 03:03 pm
Message: I cannot find what companion herb to accompany my potted Laurus Nobilis.

Can you advise, I do think maybe Thyme but not sure.

Name: paulinecharles
Date posted: July 15, 2011 - 04:35 am
Message: have two twisted stem bay trees but unfortunately have died but have new shoots i dont know whether to cut right back main stems and try to propogate new shoots ? wrong time of year

Name: Barbara
Date posted: July 11, 2011 - 10:18 am
Message: I have an established bay tree about 4-ft 6-ins planted outside. Last year it developed some sort of leaf curl which then turned brown. Not all leaves affected. Last year I pruned back well hoping this would solve the problem but it is back on the new growth this year. Qhite a lot of the old growth has gone yellow. Any ideas?

Name: roger lynall
E-mail: Private
Date posted: July 11, 2011 - 05:48 am
Message: i have two bay trees in tubs and both have started having yellow leaves ,can anything be done to stop this thanks roger lynall

Name: denise
Date posted: July 10, 2011 - 02:53 am
Message: why no response on the repeated question regarding yellowing and brown spots? i too have this situation and would love to know what it is and how to treat it.

Name: Ria Dewhurst
E-mail: Private
Date posted: July 07, 2011 - 04:04 am
Message: Hi,
My Potted Bay Tree leaves are going 'Curly and crunchy' and some leaves have turned brown.I am really worried that it is going to die in the next few days.

Name: Helen
E-mail: Private
Date posted: July 02, 2011 - 11:57 am
Message: Hi

I have a Bay tree in a pot. There was very little groth this year and it has been looking very pale. I cannot change for a larger pot - What should I feed it with?

Best regards

Name: Richard
Date posted: June 30, 2011 - 05:47 am
Message: I have just resqued two Bay Laurel plants from my sons garden. They are both about 1.5m,high but the leafs are turning brown.can you advise.

Name: Rachel
E-mail: Private
Date posted: June 18, 2011 - 02:38 am
Message: hi, i am keen to buy a couple of bay trees for decorative purposes to plant in 2 new planters 1m by 1m that i ahve just had made, i was told that the bays are very prone and vulnerable to frost,,,is this the case......? would they need to be planted in a sheltered area and covered in the frosty months ? thanks

Name: brian
E-mail: Private
Date posted: June 15, 2011 - 10:37 am
Message: hi,my bay tree leaves have turned yellowy brown .Is there anything to put on the plant

Name: jo
E-mail: Private
Date posted: June 14, 2011 - 03:08 pm
Message: hi there, just like many of the other messages i have read about bay trees i have the same problem, 2 x bay trees in pots been absolutley fine then all of a suddon yellow/brown leafs, and the bark does not look right. should i prune back, resoil if so which is the best??