How to propagate laurels

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There are a variety of types of laurel grown in Britain including the bay tree, common laurel and Portuguese laurel. Laurels are evergreen and can be grown as a single specimen or trained and cut as a hedge. The bay tree has the advantage of producing aromatic leaves which are widely used as a herb in cooking, either fresh or dried. Laurels are very difficult to grow from seed, but you're much likelier to succeed by propagating them from cuttings.

Cut the growing shoots of the laurel in the summer to a length of about 10 to 15 centimetres (4 to 6 inches) with secateurs. Trim the shoots with a sharp knife, cutting the base at an angle just below a growing leave. Remove the leaves on the stem, leaving four or five at the top.

Fill 15-centimetre (6-inch) pots with a 50-50 mixture of potting compost and sharp sand or fine grit. Make a hole in each pot 3 to 4 centimetres (1 to 1 1/2 inches) deep with a pencil. Dip the cut tips of the prepared cuttings in hormone rooting powder.

Insert the cuttings into the holes and firm the compost around them. Give them some water so that they remain damp but not waterlogged. Keep the pots over winter in a greenhouse or cold frame. The following spring, put the pots out after the risk of frost has passed.

Plant the cuttings out in their intended growing positions when they are producing new buds. Plant them in rich compost in a well-drained spot and keep watering them until they are well established.

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