The bay tree plant or sweet bay (Laurus nobilis) is a Mediterranean evergreen tree. The leaves of this tree add flavour to culinary dishes and oils when infused for long periods. Bay leaf trees do not like cold, freezing weather, so many gardeners choose to grow their bay trees indoors in large containers. To grow a bay tree successfully indoors, you must provide it with bright light, water and healthy soil.
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Things you need
- 38 cm (15-inch) saucer
- Grow lights (optional)
- Pea gravel
- 30 cm (12-inch) container
- Balanced fertiliser, organic
- Watering can
Purchase a young bay plant from the local garden centre. Check the tag on the bay plant's nursery container to purchase plants with disease-resistance to fungi such as powdery mildew.
Sit a 38 cm (15-inch) saucer in full sun. If you do not have full sun indoors, place the saucer under plant grow lights. Fill the saucer with 5 cm (2 inches) of pea gravel.
Place a 30 cm (12-inch) container on top of the gravel-filled saucer and fill it with well-draining potting soil containing peat moss or other organic material, including compost or manure.
Sprinkle an even layer of organic, balanced fertiliser (granule form) over the top of the potting soil. Use a full watering can to water the fertiliser into the soil.
Move enough soil aside in the centre of the 30 cm (12-inch) container to hold the young bay plant. Remove the bay plant from the garden container and slide it into the hole. Push the potting soil toward the bay plant so it holds the plant in place.
Water the bay plant with the watering can until it seeps from the bottom. Continue to provide the bay plant with full sun indoors or 12 to 15 hours of plant grow light.
Pluck older bay leaves from the stems of the plant with gloved hands to protect your skin from their sharp edges.
Tips and warnings
- Pass over any young bay plant containing brown, black or yellowing leaves.
- If your bay tree will serve as more than an ornamental house-plant, pick the dark green leaves in the morning and press with a heavy book so the leaves keep their flat shape. Store the dried leaves in an airtight container.
- Never leave bay leaves in soups, stews or any culinary dish, since the leaves of the bay tree are sharp. These sharp edges may cut or scrape the throat or mouth.
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