Grow Herbs – Bay Leaf Tree (Laurus nobilis)
Bay Leaf Tree
Bay, whose leaves add flavour to casseroles, is a really versatile evergreen shrub or tree that will grow in the confined space of a small tub as well as in the open except in cold, wet areas. As it may develop into a large bush, take care where you site your plant, or be prepared to keep it trimmed. The bay leaf tree is attractive enough to grow in a bed or border or, potted, on a patio, and it provides interest and value throughout the year. Tub-grown bay leaf trees may be trimmed to form decorative shapes.
Plant in the spring in a well-dug site in the garden or into John Innes or Levington composts if it is to be tub-grown. In the garden, most soils except heavy ones are suitable, but the site should be sunny. If grown in the garden, keep-the moist until the plant is established; tub-grown plants will need regular watering.
Pests and diseases are rarely a major problem for the bay leaf tree. Scale insects may become troublesome as they exude a sticky liquid. They can be kept at bay (literally) with a systemic insecticide such as dimethoate or malathion. Take care to observe the necessary interval between spraying and using the leaves for cooking.
There are no varieties, although a narrow-leaved form is available.
Site: Sunny, protected
Soil: Most, well-drained
Harvest: As required; or pick, dry, and store leaves.