Lauris nobilis. A bay tree should be planted in well drained soil with an incorporation of generous amounts of compost. The trees can be kept at a smaller growth habit if grown in a container. It is frost tolerant. Plant the tree at the same level in soil that they were grown in their nursery pot. Planting bay trees is best done in early spring when they are semi-dormant.

You can grow a bay tree simply as an ornamental plant or as part of your culinary arsenal. Growing a bay tree from cuttings or air layering is the common form of propagation. Cuttings should be taken in late summer and set into a soil-less medium. Air layering requires the gardener to wound the tree and pack it with sphagnum moss until roots form in the wound. The stem or branch can then be cut off and planted.

Protect bay trees from heavy winds, which are damaging to the weak wood. Bay trees do not need feeding or supplemental watering in winter. Bay trees can be trained to a topiary or other form with careful management when the plant is young. Place a potted plant in an area where temperatures range from 7 to 17ºC.

Harvest and Use of Bay Tree

Leaves may be harvested at any time but the best flavor can be had from larger, mature leaves. Lay the leaves out to dry and crush them or use them whole but remove before eating. The leaves are a common ingredient in the French seasoning packet, bouquet garni, which is wrapped in cheesecloth and steeped in soups and sauces.

It is a slower grower, reaching 15 x 6m. Can be trimmed regularly.

Oil from the berries repels biting insects. Leaves will repel pantry pests.

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