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Bay tree (Laurus nobilis) care tips & more about this plant
- Position: Full sun or partial shade.
- Watering: Water regularly but sparingly during growing season. Do not overwater. Water less during winter, only make sure the root ball does not dry out.
- Hardiness: Fully hardy but protect from cold drying winds and hard frost (below -5°C). Mature Bay trees can withstand lower temperatures but frost damage may occur. Remove brown and withered leaves from frost damaged trees in spring and they normally recover quickly with new growth.
- Pruning: Prune into shape in spring/summer. Any necessary hard pruning in spring and only light pruning in summer. Well suited to be clipped into topiary shapes such as Bay standards or Bay cones.
- Soil: Well-drained. Fertile. Repot every two to three years. Bay trees have a shallow root system so make sure they are protected from frost and heat by top dressing with soil.
- Feeding: During growing season top dress sparingly with organic fertiliser or with slow release fertiliser granules. There is no need for plant feed during the winter period. Avoid high concentration of fast acting liquid fertiliser.
More about Bay trees
- Also called: Bay laurel, Laurel tree, Sweet bay, Grecian laurel, Roman laurel, Poet's laurel, Royal bay, True laurel, Victor's laurel
- Foliage: Evergreen. Aromatic leathery leaves. Used fresh or dried in savoury dishes.
- Flowers: Yellow-green flowers from March-May
- Fruit: Black/purple laurel berries on female plants. Contain essential oils.
- Award of Garden Merit (AGM): This award indicates that the plant is recommended by The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
- Symbolism: The Bay tree is a symbol of victory and merit. The ancient Greeks awarded wreaths of bay laurel to victors at the Pythian Games. The Pythian Games were held in honour of Apollo who wore a wreath of bay leaves from the bay tree which his beloved Daphne had been turned into. The Romans thought that Bay leaves gave protection from lightning and disease. The Emperor Tiberius was said to be very scared of thunderstorms and hence always wore a laurel wreath. During the Middle Ages Bay trees were thought to protect from evil and witch craft.