Have You Ever Grown Bay Laurel?

Have you ever grown bay laurel? It’s such a dignified plant.

Reserved in its rate of growth, a bay laurel grown in a container will not need replanting for 5 years or so. Bay is often kept pruned, either to keep the size in check or to create a more ornamental tree. Pruning is usually done in the spring, as new growth is just beginning. You can prune as much or as little as you like, to keep the tree small or to create a topiary artwork.

Modest in its needs, bay trees wintered over in a sunny window need even less water than during summer months and no feeding at all. Bay is drought tolerant, but appreciates regular deep watering. Always allow the soil to dry out between waterings, so the roots don’t rot. But don’t let it sit for long periods without water. Come spring add two inches of nice rich topsoil and do feed while the plant is setting out new leaves. Fish emulsion is a good food.

Neat in its habits, bay is mostly pest free and in days past a leaf of bay was used to deter pests in the pantry.

Bay is a very attractive shrub but mostly we grow it it as a seasoning. The leaves don’t soften much in cooking so must be removed before eating. Bay is used in stews, soups, tomato sauces, on fish and in bean dishes. It is a traditional component of the French 'bouquet garni' and is best used in that form or in a cheesecloth bag.

Several varieties of laurel are edible, we are offering Laurus nobilis ‘Angustifolia’ the willow-leaf laurel. With so much to commend it, this plant can easily rest on its, well, on its “laurels!”

==Lesley Parness

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