As stated in last week’s introduction, January’s herb of the month is Bay. While there are several plants that are used as the “bay leaf” spice in cooking I’m going to focus on bay laurel (Laurus nobilis). This type of bay is also known as sweet bay. Laurus nobilis originates from the Mediterranean and can be grown outdoors in warmer climates or indoors as a houseplant in colder ones.
Size: Bay Laurel can grow up to 23 ft (7.5m) tall if not pruned.
Water Requirements: Bay laurel has moderate water requirements. As with most plants overwatering can cause root damage.
Soil Requirements: Bay Laurel prefers well-drained soil
Light Requirements: Bay Laurel grows best in full sun to part shade.
Temperature Requirements: Bay Laurel can be grown outside in USDA Zones 8 to 11.
Nutrient Requirements: Bay Laurel grown in containers can benefit from controlled-release fertilizer or a liquid feed every two weeks from mid-spring through late summer.
Pruning: Bay Laurel is well suited to being pruned as a topiary or shrub but they are slow growing and can be slow to recover.
Pests and Problems: Bay is susceptible to bay sucker and both soft and horse chestnut scale. Waterlogged roots can cause leaf spots or yellowing of leaves. Yellowing of leaves can also indicate a nutrient deficiency.
Container Growing: If you want to grow bay laurel as a container plant it is important to use well draining soil. Plants grown in container are also susceptible to freezing when it’s cold outside so make sure to insulate the pot. The Royal Horticultural Society recommends that bay be repotted every two years.
Part two, the culinary and medicinal uses of bay laurel and some recipes, will be coming next week so be on the look out for that.
Flower Power: Bay Laurel on Rodale’s Organic Life
Bay Tree (Laurus nobilis) on Royal Horticultural Society
As an aside, my classes start back up again this week, so while I have the best intentions to post weekly, we all know how that went last semester. If I disappear for a bit, it’s probably because of schoolwork.