Bay laurel (Laurelus Nobilis ) from the plant family Laurel(Lauraceae) is an evergreen shrub or tree native to the Mediterranean region.
Bay laurel, also called the Bay tree, is cultivated in many regions of the world for its aromatic leaves.
Apart from being used as an herb in cooking, Bay laurel is grown as an ornamental plant. This slow-growing tree has a smooth leather dark green color and glossy leaves.
Some people think that fresh bay (use matured leaves) is better than the dried.
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How much water does the Bay laurel need?
Bay laurel doesn’t need much water. The less water you give them, the better they do. When its leaves start to droop, it indicates it needs water.
Underwater is better than overwatering as they are prone to root rot. Watering once a month is fine, or water when the topsoil is too dry.
How much light does the Bay laurel need?
Bay laurel does better when it gets more sunlight. It needs a minimum of 5 hours of sunlight, though 8 hours is ideal.
If you grow the plant indoors, it will need bright light. You can put them under grow lights for about 16 hours if there is no bright light available indoors.
What temperature does Bay laurel thrive?
Bay laurel thrive when the temperature is between 80-86 degrees Fahrenheit. It can survive between 60 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
In colder zones, it is better to grow it in containers. If the temperature reaches below 23 degrees Fahrenheit, bring them indoors.
Bay laurel pests and diseases
Bay laurel infected with powdery mildew will have white, round, powdery spots on the top sides of the leaves, stems.
The infected plants with powdery mildew will develop wilted, stunted, discolored leaves.
You can prevent Powdery mildew attacks by pruning the crowded branches to ensure good airflow, providing proper irrigation, and situating the plant in a sunny and dry location.
Neem oil, potassium bicarbonate, or horticultural oil can be effective against powdery mildew.
Aphids are small creatures feed by sucking the sap from the plants. If these are not restricted, they multiply and start sucking the growing shoots.
The plants may become stunted with curling and twisting of the young leaves. They may also transmit virus diseases.
You can remove Aphids by spraying water with high pressure. Neem oil or insecticidal soap (with the right concentrations) works very effectively in getting rid of Aphids.
Mealybugs look like cottony masses on the leaves which suck the sap from plants.
You can kill or remove them by mixing rubbing alcohol with an equal amount of water and dabbed directly on mealybugs with a cotton swab dipped in the solution.
Bay suckers or Psyllids or Jumping plant lice:
Bay sucker, the small insect in grey color, sucks the sap from the leaves and causes the edges to curl over.
Leaf tissues will become thicker and yellow initially, later will turn brown and fall off. Bay suckers cause most damage from May to September.
Trim off the infected branches or infested foliage and destroy it. Use insecticidal soap to treat the leaf undersides and prevent further spread. You may need to treat more than one time.
These small grayish-brown sap-sucking pests attach themselves to the twigs, leaves, branches.
When the scale numbers are low, you can rub it or remove them off the plants by hand.
Dabbing them with rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton swab or neem-based leaf shine will also work when infestations are light.
If the infestation is more, you can prune and dispose of the branches, twigs, and leaves.
Anthracnose is a fungal infection that causes black leaf spots and curling, distorted leaves.
Trying to cure Anthracnose is difficult. So, taking necessary precautions like adding mulch around the base of the plant, which helps in preventing fungal spores in the soil from splashing onto the plant, and pruning the diseased twigs and foliage is highly recommended.
Neem oil works well in most of the strains of Anthracnose.
Sooty mold is a fungal disease that grows on plants and other surfaces covered by honeydew produced by sucking insects like aphids.
The simplest way to control mold is to wash them off the plants with a strong jet of water and applying neem oil and get rid of Aphids.
Phytophthora root rots:
Phytophthora root rots is a soil-borne fungal disease common in bay plants that do not have proper drainage. The symptoms can be droopy leaves or stunted growth.
It can be prevented by not overwatering.
How to propagate Bay laurel?
You can propagate Bay laurel from cuttings, seed, and air layering.
Propagation through Air layering (marcotting):
- Identify a stem that is more than a year old.
- Peel off the bark about 4-5 cms in height.
- Scrape the peeled area and apply the rooting hormone.
- Cover the peeled area with Sphagnum moss/potting mix/soil mix. If you are covering with Sphagnum moss, nicely soak in water before you start the process. Squeeze additional water before covering the peeled section.
- Wrap it with plastic /polythene film and tie it to make sure it holds moisture or humidity.
- After (around) 1 month, you can observe roots inside the transparent plastic.
- Once it gets roots, cut the portion below from the mother tree and transplant the new sapling.
Propagation from seed:
It can take about six months to germinate. Also, the chances for germination is less. You can be lucky if it can make out.
Propagation through cutting:
- Take the stems which are not woody, preferably the side stems. Summer is the best time to take the cutting.
- Slant cut (bottom angle) on the leaf node.
- Strip all of the leaves but the top two or three from your cutting. You can cut the remaining leaves in half so that it can concentrate on developing new roots.
- Dip the cutting in the rooting hormone and place it in the pot with good drainage.
- Place a plastic cover or bag over the top of the cutting to avoid moisture loss.
- It takes about 2-5 months to get the root depending on climatic conditions.
- Once a month, gently pull (little pressure) to see if there is any resistance. If there is resistance, it signals that the roots are developing.
- There are slow growers. It can take up to 7-8 months to get new leaves.
Soil for bay trees
Bay laurel prefers well-drained soil. This plant suffers from root rot, so well-drained soil that retains some moisture is the key.
You can mix 60% of sand with a 40% potting mix that has Sphagnum peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, coconut husk fiber. The ideal pH range is 6-7.
Is Bay laurel toxic to animals?
Yes, Bay laurel is toxic it dogs, cats and horses.
Growing laurel in containers
This slow-growing plant, when placed in a container, stays compact and grows up to 6 feet. When planted in the ground, it can grow 20-60 feet tall.
In colder zones, it can be grown in a container and brought indoors during winter.
What are the different common names of Bay laurel?
Bay laurel common names include Bay tree, Sweet bay, True laurel, Tree laurel, Laurel tree, Grecian laurel, Roman laurel, or simply laurel.
In what zones Bay laurel can be grown?
Bay laurel can be grown in zones 8, 9, 10.
Some interesting information about Bay laurels:
Bay oil has a mild narcotic effect.
All varieties on Bay leaves are not edible.
The fruit is a small, shiny blackberry about 1 cm long. Except for Bay Laurel fruit, all other Laurel hedging varieties (including berries) are poisonous to both humans and animals.
The hot brew also acts as an antiseptic and reduces bloating.
Bay leaves are a common ingredient in Soups, Stews, Rice dishes, Court-bouillon, Bouquet Garni, Crab boil, Brining meat, pickles.
The essential oil of bay laurel is used in massage therapy to alleviate arthritis and rheumatism.
Laurel oil is the main ingredient and the distinguishing characteristic of Laurel soap.
Its leaves constituted the wreaths of laurel that crowned victorious athletes in ancient Greece.
In Rome, triumphant generals wore laurel crowns during their victory parades.
California bay tree
California bay laurel (Umbellularia californica), also called Myrtlewood, Oregon Myrtle, or Bay Tree, is native to mountains and coastal forest of California and Southwestern Oregon.
It is very similar to Mediterranean bay laurel. You can cook with this just like you do with Mediterranean bay laurel but, this is more intense.
The wood of California bay laurel is valued for its use in making furniture. Woodcarvers often use burls from California bay laurels to make novelty items.
The tree got the nickname “Pepperwood” because, when it leaves are crushed, they give off a scent like pepper.