Back to Tips & Tricks

Bay Laurel

2 min read | Dec 13, 2012 | Plants 

This lovely herb has waxy, aromatic, olive green leaves adorned with clusters of small yellow flowers in the spring. Black berries embellish it’s stems in the fall months. It is treated as a tender perennial in North Carolina and has many uses, from culinary to insect repellent. This is one plant you don’t want to miss!

Just for Fun
– Originated in ancient Greece & Rome. Worn by emperors as crowns. Was also worn by poets and victors at the Pythian Games.
– Bay laurel is also the source for the word baccalaureate, bachelor and of poet laureate.

Growth & Care
This slow grower is best used in a container outside and then brought inside before the first frost. In the wild, it can grow up to forty feet tall but will only grow to an average of six feet tall in a container. Strangely, it likes to be pot bound and needs good drainage to flourish. One inch of potting rocks at the bottom of your container will help provide adequate drainage (make sure your container has drainage holes, too!). This great plant loves the sun but benefits from some afternoon shade. It is best to avoid drafty areas and vents indoors. Water well and let dry out between waterings. Fertilize with a 10-10-10 solution at one-half dosage. Once you bring your bay laurel indoors, it is best to stop fertilizing. Once the weather begins to warm in the spring, gradually introduce it to the outdoors until it fully acclimates to the weather.

Pruning and Harvesting
From spring through fall, harvest leaves by pruning/cutting the stem above a leaf following the direction of the leaf node. This will also encourage the growth of more stems.

Popular Uses
– Leaves are used in soups and stews as well as seafood, meat and veggie dishes. Do not eat the leaves; use them for flavor only and discard.
– Bay laurel oil is used in perfumes.
– Contains the chemical cineole; leaves can be spread in cupboards to repel cockroaches and fleas.
– Great to use in Christmas wreaths and floral arrangements.

Happy Herb Gardening!
Pegi R.
FairviewGreenhouses & GardenCenter