Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BAY LAUREL TREE

Bay Tree in small container
This is a Bay tree.  Or Bay Laurel as they are called.  It is, of course, one of the trees that the Bay Leaf comes from which is used in culinary creations around the world.  We've been babying this one for about two years now, it started out about 2 inches tall and now is about a foot high.  I was thinking it might be time to transplant it out of its container and into a more permanent home.

That brings me to the question.  

I'm wondering how it should be planted?  Are they better off ground planted or just large container planted?  Seems kind of small to go into the ground and let's face it, our ground is not conducive in some areas and I'd hate to have it die after keeping it this long.  Or do they perhaps grow better in containers?  We have a few empty, very large clay pots in town and we could use one of those.  As it is now, it only gets watered once a week and it's growing well so I'm guessing we'd be OK in a large pot that was watered every weekend.

Bay leaves
I know they are slow growing so we have time to wait.

What about it?  
Anyone ever grown a bay tree?  


26 comments:

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i have 3 of these and i keep them in pots. i have to in our climate. i just bring them inside in the fall. they do very well.

FionaG said...

Ours is outside in the ground and I keep it cut down to roughly head height. If left they can end up being very big trees, sometimes up to 18 metres. We have frost up to - 8 (17.6 F) and it has never been affected. Don't know what it's cold tolerance is but in terms of heat, we get up to the mid to high 40's in summer (117 F +). I never water it, it gets what comes from heaven. Even when we were in drought it looked good. It gets full sun and is on a slope (don't know if they don't like wet feet).

Practical Parsimony said...

My cherry laurel is about 20 feet tall and huge. It is great shade for the hens' coop. I like low maintenance, so nothing gets pruned. Where it is planted is boggy. When I planted it, there was no shade for it. Now, it lives in shade, except for the fact it is so tall and get sun from above. Maybe Cherry Laurel and Bay Laurel are about the same in terms of care.

Ellen in Oregon said...

I have one bay laurel that was about the size of yours when I transplanted it into a large clay pot. They need good drainage so maybe add 1/3 pearlite to your soil and a couple of inches of pea gravel in the bottom of your pot. A 10 gal. pot would probably be a good size for your laurel. If you decide to plant it in the ground, I would wait until spring to do that. I add Miraicle Grow to the water every few weeks & that seems to make it happy.

Galestorm said...

I have one in a container that I have had for at least 15 years or more. I have repotted it twice and I'm sure it needs it again. There are a couple of limbs that have died, but the rest still thrives. I will have to say that I sort of neglect it sometimes. A good dose of fertilizer probably would give it a boost in the summer months. I may try and repot it this spring. I'm in coastal NC and we have fairly mild winters. This fall has been a little unusual with an early frost and some very cold temps. I've heard we may have a cold winter, hopefully it will survive one more for me. I am going to try and find me a couple more. I always put a leaf in spaghetti sauce and I use the dried leaves in my cabinets to help with bugs! It suppose to deter them! The only place I have been able to find any plants is online, even though I know it grows wild here. I was going to order one last year and waited too late and the company had sold out.

Also, when I was growing up my family had hogs. At hog killing time they put bay laurel leaves in the fat when they were making lard in those huge cast iron pots. The best I can remember it was suppose to preserve it or keep it from going rancid. I sure don't remember. I was very young. Wish my Mama was here to ask why!!

Laurie M said...

I have grown a Bay, in a pot in our living room, our winters are too harsh for it to live outdoors all year but I did put it out in the summer, such a lovely scent, I gave it to my daughter when we moved, I use Bay a lot.

Texas Rose said...

I've had one in a pot for a year trying to decide where exactly to plant it - so all these comments are very helpful. Fiona's idea of keeping it pruned to head height is great.

Texan said...

Ok well I need one of these! I am no help on the planting but yep I need one of these :O) Looks like from the comments it does well in a pot. We love bay in food dishes.

Texan said...

PS
You are right I have now have number verification on my blog and I don't know how it got there LOL

Cottage Tails said...

I just took a photo of my bay tree this weekend - it is rather wild and needs a haircut, http://cottagetails.blogspot.co.nz/2014/12/some-more-herbs-flowering-in-my-garden.html But I live in New Zealand and have a lot milder temperatures so I don;t think I'm of any help, Nice to meet you I stumbled on you from Joyce (october farm)

Colleen said...

Following inforGrowing Bay

A native of the dry, rocky slopes of Greece, bay is well adapted for life as a houseplant. It requires well-drained soil. A blend of one-half cactus mix and one-half potting soil works well, or add one part of sand to two parts of standard potting soil. Water regularly, allowing soil to dry for several days. Bay does not thrive in overly wet or excessively dry soil. Light must be bright. Summer vacations on a shady porch will keep it healthy.

From the Herb Gardener:
Keeping Bay in a Pot
If you're planning on keeping your bay tree in a pot, avoid terracotta, and look for commercial potting soil that has good water retentive characteristics, like water beads and vermiculite.

Plan on a 12" pot for a plant that's about eight inches high. Since bay is a slow grower, invest in a larger plant if you can afford it. Bay can be pricey, but you'll be glad you paid a little more.

Growing Bay Leaf Indoors

Make sure your plant gets plenty of sun while it's spending time indoors. Remember, the quality of the light in a room starts to drop sharply as you move back from the window, so give it plenty of clear, bright light, or provide grow lights for it. Bay also dislikes drafts and hot spots, like those near heating vents or exterior doors.

Don't fertilize outdoor specimens you are over-wintering inside. Wait until spring. If you are maintaining a bay indoors year round, try putting it out on a patio for a couple of weeks in spring. A little time outdoors each season will do it a world of good. To make the moving task easier, give it a base with casters. Your back will thank you.

All this sounds like a pain, but a healthy, shiny, specimen can be a beautiful sight.

Propagating Bay Leaf Laurel

Take stem cuttings (four or five inches), or air layer. The end of summer is the best time to start new plants. The cuttings will have to be carefully nurtured; a conservatory where you can keep them in uniformly humid conditions would be ideal. Transplant the following spring.

Harvesting Bay Leaf

You can start to harvest bay once the plant is a couple of years old. The leaves should be dried before use, as fresh bay is bitter. The best wait time is around 48 to 72 hours from the time you pick a leaf. I know you get long-dried bay leaves at the store, but the freshly dried leaves have better, deeper flavor.

Select the largest leaves. The older the leaf, the stronger the flavor will be.



If you live in Zones 8 to 11, you can use bay outdoors in your xeriscape garden. Plant in well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Water regularly to establish an extensive root system. Fertilize with general-purpose fertilizer in spring and summer. Bay is slow-growing, but once old enough (10 to 30 years), it will flower in spring, followed by small fruits that birds love.
mation from Organic Gardening web site:

Teresa Wills said...

Organic Gardening.com has a good article about the Bay Laurel Tree

1st Man said...

Well that's good to know, I'm ok with keeping it in a pot too, as long as it will provide us with leaves. ;-)

1st Man said...

Well if your extremes are 17F to 117F (yikes) that covers us. I guess the biggest problem we should have is the ground, making sure it gets good soil. And the drought tolerance is nice too. Thanks for the info!

1st Man said...

That's some great info there, thank you. I like that your coop gets shade from it. Low maintenance if something I've heard about it too so that's good to know. Thank you!!

1st Man said...

I'd definitely wait until Spring but I still think it's small enough to maybe grow it for awhile longer in a pot...a large clay pot. I believe the large clay ones we have are 10 gallon (or more). I will research some soil blends. More great info from a comment, thanks much!

1st Man said...

WOW! 15 years? I'd be ok with that if it gets big and provides us leaves. It's funny, they are hard to find here too but there is one nursery near the house (in town) that always has them. They are lots more expensive that regular herbs for some reason but they have them. Might have to get another next Spring. I was thinking two clay pots on each of of the garden gate might be fun.

I've heard of the bug prevention thing but never tried it. When we have a few more leaves I might check that out. And that is fascinating about the hog fat. Thanks!!!

1st Man said...

We use Bay a lot more than we used to. It's such a great flavoring. I didn't know they would grow indoors, great suggestion there. Thank you!

1st Man said...

Head height is smart huh? Glad other comments are helpful. That's why I often ask questions, I figure if we're learning I hope others will be too. :-)

1st Man said...

We found ours at a local nursery, in the Spring of course when they are getting herbs in mass quantities, and while it's more expensive than regular herbs such as a basil, etc (probably because it's a tree and doesn't grow quickly), they are often overlooked by people looking for herbs. This one has been in it's original black pot for two years now. It's time to get it into a roomy clay pot. Hope you get one to add to your awesome garden!

1st Man said...

Isn't it crazy? We have it turned off for newer comments so I tried turning it on and then back off, etc, nothing. So frustrating.

1st Man said...

Well first of all, thank you for commenting and stopping by. Isn't Joyce great? I looked at yours and WOW...amazing...it's beautiful (as are all of your plants/flowers). I know that it will grow nicely in the ground from that (and other comments) so you are helpful, thank you. I just need to figure out the best conditions if we decide to do that. Thanks again and I added your blog to our blogroll on the side. :-)

1st Man said...

OH MY GOSH, you have found great info, thank you so much. We love our blog friends, you all always come through with suggestions and info. Thanks!!

1st Man said...

Off to check it out, thanks bunches. The more info the better! :-)

Anonymous said...

We bought a little property last year and it has about a 30 ft tall bay tree on it. It used to be the main house for a 2,500 acre property. So it has a park, and lots of herbs and fruit trees. I haven't harvested any bay leaves yet, but I am looking forward to it. We are still in the process of building a house there.

1st Man said...

WOW, 30 feet? That's a WHOLE lot of bay leaves, ha. Sounds like you have a great property, congrats. So much potential!!