The evergreen bay laurel tree (Laurus nobilis) usually only attains a height of 90 cm to 4.5 m (3 to 15 feet) when grown as a landscape specimen. In its native southern Mediterranean homeland the tree often attains a height of up to 9 m (60 feet). The glossy foliage of the tree makes a culinary herb addition to many dishes. The aromatic seasoning dominates many Creole, Italian, Spanish and French recipes.
Plant the bay laurel tree in a location with partial shade or full sunlight and well-draining soil. Choose a location that protects the tree from possible winter winds.
Dig a hole twice as wide as the tree's root ball. Mix ample compost into the surrounding soil at a ratio of 50 per cent compost with 50 per cent garden soil.
Place the tree into the hole at the same level it was planted in its nursery container. Push the soil and compost around the tree's root system. Press the soil and compost mixture down firmly with your hands to remove any air pockets.
Water the tree thoroughly once planted. Keep the bay laurel tree moist but not overly wet. Avoid overwatering during the winter months.
Fertilise the bay laurel tree once per month during the spring and summer months. Use a general purpose fertiliser. Follow the directions on the fertiliser for application instructions.
Prune the bay laurel tree in the spring to maintain its shape and size. Remove any sucker growth that may arise from the tree's root system.
Pick the leaves of the bay laurel tree in the early morning. Place them under a book or other heavy object to dry the leaves and prevent curling. The bay laurel tree grows well in a container. Move the container bay laurel tree indoors or into the greenhouse during the winter months. Mist the container-grown bay laurel leaves lightly each week with warm water.
Sensitive individuals may suffer from contact dermatitis from the oils produced by the tree's foliage. The leaves of the bay laurel have sharp margins.