Overwintering Bay Laurel on Vancouver Island

A flush of new spring growth on a Bay Laurel

A flush of new spring growth on a Bay Laurel

Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) is an evergreen tree native to southern Europe. It has a long history as a culinary and sacred herb. Growing this wonderful Mediterranean herb on Vancouver Island is not difficult, but it requires a little extra care to get it through the winter.

Key Points to Consider

Bay is considered a half hardy perennial in our climatic zone, so unprotected outdoor overwintering is a bit of a gamble.

Young Bay plants, less than five years old, are considerably less hardy than mature plants.

Bay is shallow rooted, so heavy frosts may damage it’s root system.

Bay foliage is damaged in the winter by cold temperatures and wind that produce low humidity conditions that cause the leaves and smaller stems to die back.

Overwintering Outdoors

The first line of defense is to select a sunny protected area with well drained soil for your Bay plant. In the winter, mulch to help protect the root system from frost.

If temperatures are expected to go below -5C cover the entire plant with frost cloth or burlap to help protect the foliage.

Plants may suffer cold or wind damage to the current season’s growth, which can be pruned out in the spring. If the worst happens and a ground-planted bay seems to have all of it’s foliage killed off, prune it back and be patient, there is a good possibility that it will put up new shoots.

Potted Bay Laurel that is going to be kept outdoors, should have the entire pot buried in a sheltered corner of your garden. Then mulch and cover it as described above.

Overwintering Indoors

Potted Bay Laurel that can be moved indoors should be kept in an area that does not go below -5C and near a window for a bit of light. Water your indoor bay very sparingly ( 1 – 3 times per month ), do not fertilize it and keep an eye out for pests. While we are on the subject of Pests, it is also advisable to carefully check over your Bay and remove any pests before bringing it inside. While inside keep it well away from your houseplants to minimize an exchange of pests.

Well that is all for this year …. Happy Holidays !

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roast-Turkey-with-Oranges-Bay-Leaves-Red-Onions-and-Pan-Gravy-105729

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