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Bay Trees Outdoors in South

Those of you up north may have to keep your bay in pots to allow for protection in the winter but in the south, gardeners don't have to go to that trouble. It has been said that bay needs to be protected in the winter in Dallas but that has not been my experience. The organic program obviously helps. This great specimen has been outside in a pot for a few years, then in the ground as you see for over 25 years.


Open flowers


Here are the details about one of my favorite plants from my book Herbs for Texas


BAY: Laurus nobilis (LAR-us NO-bi-lis)




FAMILY: Lauraceae


TYPE: Tender evergreen shrub or small tree.


LOCATION: Sun or partial shade.


PLANTING: Year round from containers. Do stem cuttings in late winter.


HEIGHT: 50 feet in warmer climates. Usually under 8 feet in cooler climates.


SPREAD: 5 to 20 feet FINAL SPACING: 15 to 20 feet


HABIT: Upright evergreen with small creamy flowers in late spring followed by shiny black berries.


CULTURE: Easy to grow in almost any situation. Does well in pots or in beds.


BLOOM/FRUIT: Small creamy light yellow flowers in early spring, followed by shiny black berries on mature trees.


GROWTH HABITS/CULTURE: Slow growing herb but will develop into a small tree or large shrub. Easy to grow in most any situation, but it prefers healthy, well-drained soil. Mostly grown as a dwarfed, aromatic foliage plant.


HARVEST/STORAGE: Collect the evergreen leaves year round and use fresh or dried stored in glass.


CULINARY USES: Flavoring for many foods and teas. Do not eat the leaves. They can cut into intestinal tissue. Bay is a wonderful herb for cooking and herb tea, but it also makes a great ornamental plant.


MEDICINAL USES: Oil of bay is used for skin diseases and bruises. Tea is used to treat sprains and aching joints. It is said to be mildly narcotic, a digestive aid and appetite stimulant.


LANDSCAPE USES: Centerpiece, patio plant or container plant.


OTHER USES: The leaves repel moths when placed in shelves or storage containers and also used in potpourri or wreaths. Fruit oil is used in making soap. Cut foliage is good for indoor arrangements.


PROBLEMS: Few other than freeze damage in severe winters if you live too far north.


NOTES: Mine has been outdoors for over 20 years and is over 20' tall. The first several years it was in a pot outdoors. This is a great example of a plant's increased hardiness under an organic program.



Logan, Hannah, and the Big Bay

Current photos of the bay

Hannah, Tully & Urban Bee Expert
Susan Pollard





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