Monday, January 26, 2009

Bay Laurel-2009 Herb of the Year

The container on the left in this photo is Laurus nobilis or Bay Laurel or Sweet Bay. This one is over my head and I'm 5'6" tall. Bay laurel is a native of the Mediterranean area. In ancient Greece, poets and scholars were crowned with wreathes of bay. Hence, the term poet laureate was coined.

If you live in Zone 7 or higher, you should be able to grow bay in the ground. Here in the 'Burgh, we have to have it in a container and take it inside during the winter. This one is about 6-1/2 feet tall. It is slow to germinate from seeds or cuttings (taking up to six months to root). So you should buy an actively developing young potted plant. Bay needs full sun and prefers dryish soil and avoid mulching. You do need to provide moderate moisture in summer, especially if you grow it in a container. It does best if it is pruned on a regular basis.

Bays are susceptible to mites, scale and mealy bugs indoors, but once they come outside, they mostly lose those problems. You need to be vigilante when they are outdoors that the scale or other insects do not reoccur. Here is an article by Sandy Feather on the treatment of scale insects which is the main problem for bay laurels indoors even though it is for a ficus tree the treatment for bay would be the same. More in the coming days.

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