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Bay Tree

Discussion in 'Trees' started by Fat Controller, Aug 11, 2018.

  1. Fat Controller

    Fat Controller Cuddly Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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    Now, it will be a while before I do this as I currently do not have the money - purely planning stages here only.

    I am considering getting a bay tree, purely based on the fact that we are doing a lot more with herbs etc in our cooking than we ever did, and are really enjoying the depth of flavours we are adding fresh from the garden. So, here I am to learn about them (as I know nothing), and to gather information before I get to the point where I get one.

    Firstly, I see that there are a few different shapes available - whilst they are all the same plant, is one shape better than another for the health of the tree?

    Ideally, I am thinking of having one in a pot - is this suitable, and if so what size of pot?

    If in a pot, are they a water every day without fail sort of thing, or do they prefer to be a bit drier?

    Are they happy in a fairly sunny location?

    When being used for culinary uses, do new leaves grow relatively quickly?

    And lastly where is best to purchase one (other than the local garden centre, as they cost a bomb in there)
     
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    • Clare G

      Clare G Gardener

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      I used to have one here, growing in the ground. They are hardier grown in the ground and I will say, mine grew so vigorously and became so over-sized despite regular pruning that I ended up having to have it taken out.

      The other problem was that it developed a serious, persistent infestation of scale insects - these were resistant to any spray available at that time (about 10 years ago) and anyway you don't want to be spraying leaves that you are planning to use in the kitchen! The scale insects are more likely to come if you keep the tree clipped into shape (mine was a tall cone) because there is less ventilation through the branches.

      Bay trees trimmed into shape or grown as standards are indeed expensive. I would look out for a small, cheap, unshaped one, plant it in a decent-sized pot, and see how you get on. They grow quite fast and you will be able to nip off leaves to use. I have seen them in places like Lidl, but in the spring. You can get them off ebay etc too if you can't find a reasonably priced one locally.

      Experiment too to see whether you actually like the taste of them fresh - they are actually one of the herbs I prefer dried. But ones dried at home certainly have a better flavour than shop-bought ones!

      PS Yes they prefer a sunny location.
       
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      • Verdun

        Verdun Passionate gardener

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        Hiya FC.:)
        Bays are, first of all, survivors. They are hard to kill, easy to shape, suitable for pot culture or in the ground. Very hardy esp if the compost is well drained.
        I planted one in a container for my nephew and did the following: used a john innes number 3 mixed with horticultural grit. Prob 15 to 20% grit. A heavy solid container to help with stability and weight...besides it looks better. In full sun from morning to early afternoon but here in my own garden in full sun from midday. it was also pruned back when planted to help its density....if you want it on a leg dont prune it at planting time
        Watering? Well, my nephew often forgets to water but he does water it on a sort of regular basis. Over watering is prob worst enemy of bays. I give it a granular feed...fish, blood and bone...in spring and it is given a liquid feed now and then during the summer (according to when my nephew thinks about it!!!)
        Where to buy? My own were cadged cuttings a few years ago but I would check online. I buy all sorts of perennials, shrubs etc online and rarely been disappointed. Like ClareG, I found ebay to be an excellent source.
        Dont overpot.....as with most everything. Over potting produces poor slow growing plants. However, they will require potting on every 3 or 4 years according to how you judge their needs.
         
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        • Scrungee

          Scrungee Well known for it

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          It's when they get 13+ feet high and they're rootbound in a half ex-whiskey barrel that the fun begins, but that'll be a long time off. Just make sure your tub is located on a sound insitu concrete bed, not open ground or loosely laid slabs or your'll never shift it come re-potting time.
           
        • Verdun

          Verdun Passionate gardener

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          Ha ha Scrungee, you are so right....they will grow huge. :) In a friend's garden down here they have made large trees. Esp down here where the growing season is a long one they grow very fast
          Best if pruned or shaped annually :)
           
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          • WeeTam

            WeeTam Total Gardener

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            I bought a small one for a few pound. Within a couple of years its grown into a 3x3 bush. Healthy low maintenance.
            If winters tough i bring it indoors. Leaves used for cooking.
             
          • Mike Allen

            Mike Allen Gardener

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            My dear friend. If you care to pm me your address, I will gladly send you a bay sapling, about 2ft high ready for training. I'd be inclined to use a 5-6inch pot as starters. Post free.
             
          • Fat Controller

            Fat Controller Cuddly Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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            Blimey @Mike Allen, that is extremely generous of you. We must sort out something for the post though, as a 2ft sapling will not be cheap to send.

            PM on its way sir, and a public thank you!
             
          • Mike Allen

            Mike Allen Gardener

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            Opposite my home is a small park/recreation ground. Queenscroft Park. Eltham. There is a large stand of Laurus nobilis close to the fence. They offer quite some protection from stiff Easterly winds. In the fruiting period, the wood pidgeons really attack them and for a couple of weeks the foliage becomes hidden by the masses of these greedy birds. Like the saying, what goes up must come down. So also, what goes in, must come out. So it's nothing strange to suddenly discover young bays growing in the garden.
             
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            • Loofah

              Loofah Well used member

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              Mine's in a pot by the back door on a hot patio. It gets the occasional washing up bowl of water and a feed in spring but it otherwise left to itself. Growing up we had a bay tree in the ground that was 20-25ft, we chopped it to ground to try and remove it but it sprang back exceptionally fast! If you have a massive garden then ground planting is fine but otherwise I'd stick to pots.
               
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              • Redwing

                Redwing Wild Gardener

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                Mine is happily growing outside and seeds prolifically. The seedlings usually get mowed but I could find some small ones to post to you. PM me if interested.
                 
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                • kazzawazza

                  kazzawazza Total Gardener

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                  I bought one and had it for years and kept it in a big pot. When we had a really bad winter a few years ago it died :cry3: I have often thought about buying another one but they can be expensive.
                   
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