General: Repotting Bay Laurel

Discussion in 'Herbs for the Kitchen' started by BitterSweet, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. BitterSweet

    BitterSweet Member

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    Hello, I'm new here. =) I recently obtained a 2" Bay Laurel, in a 2.5" pot. I'm wondering how to go about repotting it- do I move it into a slightly larger pot, (a 4"), or would it be ok to move it into a much larger pot (maybe a 12")? Does pot size effect the growth rate/health of this specific plant? If so, what would be the best thing to do for it? Other than that I'd just like to know if anybody has any suggestions or soil preferences for said plant. What should I expect from this little guy? Any tips from experience would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Tease roots open, repot in standard mix. Container size can be a little bigger or a lot bigger. Repot when roots approaching walls of container, roots circling around inside pot walls or coming out drain holes is too late. Place in sunny sheltered area like sunny window.

    Could actually grow outdoors most of the time in Snohomish, but even in Seattle occasional winters are too cold and there is damage.
     
  3. BitterSweet

    BitterSweet Member

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    Thanks. =) I was thinking about keeping it outside for most of the warm weather and bringing it in when the nights get colder. I put it in a 12" pot.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Place on pavement or table where access for bugs and slugs will be minimal. Otherwise when brought in later you end up with these coming out of it, inside the house.
     
  5. Keke

    Keke Active Member

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    Hi -- I just joined these forums myself and this is actually something I know a bit about! I enjoy what is now an 8' standard bay that we've had since 1990, including moving it across Canada as a four-footer. We planted it in the ground in 2007 as a six-footer when it became too large to move easily. And yep, it survived our hard winter with flying colours (with a little bit of help -- ask me if you want to know).

    I'm a Sunset 4B so you should be able to leave yours outdoors for most of the year if sheltered. Sunset says they can handle -7C but I always brought mine into an unheated but enclosed space if the night was going to go to -4C, since being in a pot makes a plant more tender than it is in the ground.

    I never noticed my bay objecting to being repotted in a larger pot than usual. I think I went from a 6" to a two-gallon to a barrel, but the big thing was, as Ron said, teasing out the roots. Ron, I gotta say, I probably repotted it way too late, but it hasn't hurt it that I can see. What I will say is that bay trees are VERY susceptible to scale. When it was small I used to go at it with a Q tip and rubbing alcohol to pick off the scale, but at a certain point it becomes too much work! Apparently there are cultivars that are scale-resistant but that's not usually what you see in stores. I haven't noticed the scale problem getting out of control since it's been outside most of the year. It was a great deal worse when I had to bring it in for a whole winter in Toronto.

    Enjoy your bay tree, Bittersweet. If you can get it to a reasonable size you'll be able to prune it twice a year and have lots of bay leaves to give away or sell. They make great foodie Christmas gifts. I've even made "kitchen wreaths" out of prunings.
    keke
     
  6. ShearMe

    ShearMe Active Member

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  7. Keke

    Keke Active Member

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    Doesn't seem to have hurt mine. Thing's growing like a weed even after a very hard winter and now searing heat.
    keke
     
  8. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Oh I am so jealous because I want one soooo badly. I know of a greenhouse who has some, so I am going to go check it out tomorrow maybe.

    Or perhaps someone would mail me a cutting, in exchange for one of my many plant varieties...

    : )
     
  9. Keke

    Keke Active Member

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    Well, I bought mine from Richter's when I lived in Toronto. Used to put it in my sunniest and most sheltered spot as soon as it stopped freezing hard at night and left it there all summer. (Of course it helped we lived downtown and had a concrete south facing postage stamp back yard.)

    Hard part is giving it enough sun in winter. Cool to -4C is fine but it needs sun, and don't let it dry out! I nearly killed mine by forgetting to water.

    But it all came good in the end -- it's happy in the ground here in Vancouver, where it lives with an olive tree (potted) and several rosemaries. Try one!
    keke
     
  10. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member

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    Mine has been in the garden for years as part of a hedge so it gets trimmed regularly. The one in my child hood home was a tree size (about 15 ft +) just as part of the garden. I have a friend who tortures hers (topiary) it is in a large pot and looks healthy. They have leather type leaves so I supect are ok in a certain amount of cold. Hard for me to imagine real cold so listen to your locals. Winter has forgotton to pay us a visit this year.

    Liz
     
  11. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    I am happy to report, that I finally got my Bay Laurel plant!

    : )

    I just got it today, and couldn't believe how healthy it is. I got it from a different greenhouse, where the plants were much healthier. I already have it transplanted into a big pot, and I've placed it outside in full-sun.

    Can't wait to harvest some leaves tomorrow.

    P.S. Will the plant get bushier if you prune it?
     

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  12. et2007

    et2007 Active Member

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    HBL, bay grow very slow, watch out for the water in winter if you put it in big pot. I learned the hard way thinking my pots small :)
     
  13. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Thanks Et2007.

    I actually had a bayleaf plant a few years back, but it died over the winter in my east window. I learned a lot from that experience.

    Notice my plant is outside? I am intending on potting it up in a much smaller pot to bring it inside for the winter. The reason the pot is so big, is because of the little hot pepper seedlings I planted around the bay plant. You can see them in the picture...

    I thought it would be nice to grow some trailing hot pepper plants down the sides of the big pot, with the bay in the middle, and wanted there to be lots of root room for everything.

    : )
     
  14. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    By the way, Et2007...

    Can you prune the branches on Laurel?
     
  15. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member

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    I certainly prune mine but then it is a hedge. I would just take what you can use from such a young one and it will keep shooting. We had to cut the one at home right off after the fires and it ended up huge with several trunks.

    Liz
     
  16. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Thank you so much, Liz!

    So, you don't think I should snip the tops off of those tall branches, to encourage more shoots? Most plants love this method, but are you saying bay laurel is different? I am just so used to pruning plants to make them fuller - even vines! Are you saying to just remove a few leaves, but don't snip the branch tips? Will other branches form even so?

    : )
     
  17. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Here is what seemed to be good information on growing Bay Laurel in a container... (continue reading at this link)

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 2, 2010
  18. Keke

    Keke Active Member

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    Interesting info -- especially the part about non-ericaceous soil. Out here all our soil is ericaceous (ie. acidic), and it doesn't seem to matter. But it sounds like my tree probably would like fertilizing, which I don't think I've ever done in 20 years!
     
  19. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    I bet your plant would love some fertilizer, Keke.

    This information is getting me excited about growing my bay laurel plant. I am so happy I bought one yesterday. What a cool tree.

    I think I might cut the tops of of some of my branches to encourage fuller growth. Do you prune your bay plant?

    : )
     
  20. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Well...

    Didn't cut off the tops just yet, but here is a couple of bay leaves I harvested this morning, and am now drying inside of a book, so the leaves don't curl...

    : )
     

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  21. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member

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    Re acidic soil both the plants I know THRIVE in acidic soil. We are on red basalt based very acidic suitable for rhodo, azalea and hydrangea that colour very vividly.

    Liz
     
  22. Keke

    Keke Active Member

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    I used to pinch my bay tree back to try to get it to branch. If the light isn't high enough it doesn't seem to break new shoots from leaf nodes in hard wood, though. I had limited success getting it to branch when I lived in the east. Funnily enough that isn't the case here in the west, but where it is it gets sheltered warmth and max sun about 3/4 of the day every day. Now I just hack it back when it gets out of bounds, about three times a year. I'm lopping off all the lowest branches to raise the height of the standard "ball" at the moment -- a couple of branches this spring and I'll do a couple more this fall.

    keke
     
  23. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    I have my Bay Laurel plant in full-sun. It is saturated in rays, from
    7am - 8pm. Hopefully this will be enough light to make it branch more for me...

    : )
     
  24. Keke

    Keke Active Member

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    BTW, the new leaves aren't much good for cooking with, only the older ones. And I don't bother to dry mine flat, I just hang 'em up out of the light, right on the branch.
    keke
     
  25. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Thanks for the tip about older leaves - I did not know that.

    I like my leaves to be perfectly flat, so I like the book method, but I dry many other herbs upside down in bundles, in a cool, shady place.

    : )

    P.S. I may cut the tops off some branches today, and see if more shoots develop. The tree is getting 13 hours of sun per day!

    : O
     

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