Bay trees are low maintenance and with just a little bit of pruning in the summer it’s easy to keep in good shape. Read through our bay tree care guide and learn everything you need to know on how to look after a bay tree.
Bay Tree Quick Facts:
- Latin name: Laurus nobilis
- Hardiness: Mostly Hardy. Can withstand temperatures down to -5°C
- Pollination: Self Fertile
- Suitable for: Pot growing
- Also suitable for: planting in warmer areas of the UK
- Difficulty: Moderate
Our range of ornamental bay trees have been carefully trained and pruned to grow in very specific shapes - designed to add a sophisticated flair to your garden, porch or patio. Once trained by our specialists on the nursery, maintaining this shape should be easy, plus growing them will also provide you with a supply of fresh and fragrant bay leaves - what a treat!
The best way to for novice gardeners to grow bay trees in the UK is to keep them in pots, which means they can be put outside in a sheltered location with lots of sun for most of the year and brought into an unheated greenhouse or conservatory if winter temperatures are falling into minus figures.
Repot your tree into a larger container in the first 12 months, to give the roots more space to grow; Spring is usually the best time to carry this out. Remember to always choose deep pots with drainage holes.
Some tips for repotting:
- We advise that you withhold water for a couple of days in advance to allow the soil to dry out slightly.
- Loosen the soil around the edge of the pot and pull the tree out by the base of the main stem
- Add some extra soil to the bottom of the new pot before you insert the plant. We recommend John Innes number two for bay trees - with 10-20% added horticultural grit or perlite to improve drainage.
- Fill in with a mix of soil, compost and grit
- Water the plant thoroughly, and keep it well watered for several weeks to allow the roots to bed in.
After this first repotting your tree will need to be repotted every few years as it continues to grow and deplete the nutrients in the potting soil. If the tree is too large to re-pot, you could refresh the potting soil by replacing up to 50% of the old soil with fresh.
Feed trees regularly throughout late Spring and Summer with a liquid phostrogen fertilizer according to packet instructions.
Pot grown trees have restricted access to water, so will need to be watered regularly in hot or dry periods.
Bays will not react well to wet feet or waterlogged soil so making sure that chosen pot is deep enough with good drainage holes is important. In the short term, under watering will be much less harmful than overwatering, so always be modest with the watering can!
Bay trees tend to grow more quickly, so may need additional pruning in summer to maintain a good shape. Simply trim back new shoots to an inwards facing buds
In summer, pinch back the tips of any stems that have grown too long, to limit vertical growth and encourage fruiting side shoots.
Fruit and Flowers
Although it's not what they are known for, bay trees can, in fact, produce tiny little yellow flowers and little purple berries. However, in order to produce any fruit, a female tree needs to be pollinated meaning if there is only the one tree it may never fruit.
As soon as night time temperatures drop close to 0°C, move your bay tree into an unheated greenhouse or conservatory (basically somewhere sheltered) to protect it from extreme temperatures and frosts.
Bay trees make wonderful gifts for foodies and are extremely popular to send for birthdays, new babies and weddings. We have various sizes and styles of bays our most interesting is probably the double corkscrew stem bay the intricate double helix stem will add an elegant flare of style to any garden.