Laurus nobilis or Sweet Bay is a medium-sized evergreen tree whose branches used in garlands symbolizes victory or accomplishment. Its aromatic dark, glossy green leaves are used in cooking and yield an essential oil used in perfumery. Leaves are lanceolate to elliptical to 4 inches (12 cm) long. Trees in nature will reach up to 40 feet (13 meters) in height. It is native to the Mediterranean region. The trees are very slow growing and very good for large containers or tubs. They respond well to trimming and also make good hedge subjects for the landscape. It is hardy in USDA zones 8-12.
Blooming: Clusters of small yellow flowers are followed by ½ to 1 inch (1.2-2.5 cm) black berries.
Culture: Laurus nobilis does best in a rich, moist soil and partial to full sun. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sand or perlite. To this mix, we add one cup of 14-14-14 Osmocote slow release fertilizer to every 0.01 cubic yards (7.6 liters or 0.0076 cubic meters) of soil mix. The plants are kept moist during the growing season and fertilized monthly with a balanced fertilizer. Since they are slow growing very little pruning is need to keep a desired shape or form. In they landscape, once plants are established they are very drought resistant. During the winter months the water is restricted and plant are moved to a cooler environment. Fertilizer is withheld during this period.
Propagation: Laurus nobilis is propagated from cuttings taken in the spring.
Laurus nobilis was featured as Plant of the Week January 7-13, 2005.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.