UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA

Bay Laurel

Garden Help > Herbs

Bay laurel, Laurus nobilis, is an evergreen grown as a large shrub or tree. Small bay trees do well in containers because of their slow growth, but can reach heights of 20 to 40 feet in landscapes. The aromatic leaves add flavor to sauces, soups, stews, meats, fish, and pickles. The flavor is stronger fresh, than when used dry.

How to grow

Frost-sensitive; protect from frost in colder microclimates

  • Type: Perennial, evergreen, woody
  • Light: Full sun with light afternoon shade
  • Soil: Well drained, slightly acidic
  • Water: Low water use; deep watering every 2-3 weeks in summer
  • Size: 20-40' high, unchecked

When to plant/propagate

  • From seed: Difficult. Germination can be poor.
  • Transplants: Plant in fall through spring
  • Cuttings: Difficult. Rooting can take months.

Harvesting: Leaves may be harvested year round. Larger, older leaves tend to provide the strongest and best flavor.

Indoors: Can be grown indoors with 6 hours of bright light from a sunny window, or 12-16 hours of supplemental light provided by cool white fluorescent or LED lamps.

Common pests & diseases

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