Wintering a potted Bay Leaf Tree

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by geoffrey eccott, Nov 18, 2022.

  1. geoffrey eccott

    geoffrey eccott New Member

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    I would love some advice on wintering over my potted Bay Leaf trees. I have a covered sunny area to protect them from frost but not freezing temperatures. Is there something more I can do short of bringing them in the house( which I would rather not if possible)?
     
  2. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Your decision must be based at least in part by the current size of the tree - bringing a large pot to an appropriate spot indoors can be a big nuisance for sure. When I lived in Burnaby, I found that Laurus nobilis is surprisingly hardy. Mine was planted in the ground in a south-facing location near the house and grew to 10 feet over many years. Temperatures fell well below zero during many of those winters.

    A few thoughts to avoid bringing the potted tree inside are 1. to enclose the pot loosely in chicken wire and stuff the inside with leaves to provide insulation (the problem with that is that the tree leaves won't get much sun). At the same time, you might move it to a more protected spot. 2. Bury the pot in the ground with protection as described and dig it up again in the spring; 3. plant the tree permanently and protect it over the winter by wrapping it as above.

    To hedge your bets, perhaps start one or two new plants from cuttings and bring those indoors until they get too big; that way, if your larger bay tree dies, you'd have replacements. My outdoor bay tree was very large when it was killed above ground by a very cold winter (in 2005 I think, with much lower temperatures than freezing) but it did resprout from the root.
     
  3. vitog

    vitog Contributor 10 Years

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    I agree with Margot. My daughter lives in the Strathcona area of Vancouver and has a large bay tree that survived last December's very cold temperatures outdoors without protection; although the tree is in a very sheltered location next to townhouse walls on two sides.
     
  4. geoffrey eccott

    geoffrey eccott New Member

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    Thank you both with your insight and suggestions. There is a risk leaving them outside, albeit, its moderate to low. I would hate to loose them as they are 7-8’ tall in their pots, almost a 2” calliper. I guess I have a decision to make, neither option is ideal!
     
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  5. wcutler

    wcutler Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    There is one in the Physic Garden at UBCBG. @Daniel Mosquin, do you know why it was cut back to the ground this year? Was it damaged by the cold last year?
     
  6. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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    If your freezing temperatures wont last long, then you can just wrap your tree for that short period.
    During freezing period it is better to avoid sun exposure, as sun can dry your bay laurel easily when the ground is cold and roots can't take any water.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Put them in the covered sunny area during frosty periods and insulate the outsides of the pots - the main thing that gets potted woody plants sitting outdoors during cold spells is frost penetration of the potting soil. With newest roots on the outer edge of the root mass being the most prone to cold, the tops the least susceptible and mature roots farther back inside falling between in tolerance. So that potted stock can have part of the root system die in a cold spell with it being erroneously concluded afterward that there was no damage. Because the visible portions above pot level still looked good.

    In order to get a feeling for the involved parameters note that an organized study using an assortment of popular woody ornamentals (such as Japanese maple and so forth) growing in unprotected containers found an across-the-board tendency to be damaged by temperatures about 20 degrees F. above what it would take to produce similar outcomes with specimens of the same kinds established in the ground. So for instance if it is assumed your laurels would otherwise go as low as 5 degrees F. without much difficulty - and this could be a bit optimistic - then presumably they should not be allowed to sit out fully exposed to 25 degrees F. while still in pots. With it being standard practice for both production and sales operations in our region to overwinter containerized broad-leaved evergreens under cover on a routine basis.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2022
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  8. geoffrey eccott

    geoffrey eccott New Member

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    Thank you!!
     
  9. Keke

    Keke Active Member 10 Years

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    I hope your bay trees survived the winter. I have a sheltered spot on my third-floor balcony in East Van where I placed both my bay tree and my potted pomegranate last fall. They don't get full sun there, but they have north and west protection. When we were due for temps below -3C at night, I plugged in a string of old clear Christmas lights that I wound around the pots and up onto bamboo stakes surrounding the foliage. Then I placed heavyweight clear poly around both pots and clipped the top closed with clothespins to create a sort of cloche. The other thing I did was make sure the plants were watered. No use stressing them more! I opened the top during the day if it stayed cold, or unwrapped the pots when it got warmer. It seems to have worked -- I have tiny leaves on the pomegranate, and plenty of flowers on the bay tree right now.
     
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  10. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Since tops are the hardiest parts roots are what need to be looked at when making cold episode damage assessments of potted plants.
     
  11. geoffrey eccott

    geoffrey eccott New Member

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    Truth be told, I actually chickened out and brought them indoors for the winter! I have tall ceilings so they fit in better than I had thought. Thank you everyone for your wonderful advice!!!
    Enjoy the spring!
     

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