Bay laurel brings home a bit of the Mediterranean

The Associated Press
Friday September 15, 2000


Bay laurel is native to the Mediterranean region, where temperatures rarely dip below freezing. If planted in a pot, though, this tree can be grown almost anywhere. The potted tree can decorate the house in winter, the terrace in summer, and provide fresh bay leaves for soups and other dishes year-round. 

The ideal for this potted plant is to try to mimic the conditions along the Mediterranean. There, winters are cool and moist, summers are sunny and dry. Grow the plant in a well-drained potting mix and let it bask in abundant sunlight during the warmer months. Bay laurel is a rich feeder, so it also needs abundant fertilization during this period. 

Winter will be difficult on bay laurel because, although it tolerates low indoor light, the plant dislikes hot, dry air at this time of the year. Cool rooms are moister than warm rooms in winter, so the cooler the room the better. A bright window in a barely heated basement is the closest one can get to a Mediterranean winter indoors in cold regions. 

Although bay laurels grow 50 feet tall, they can be kept to 5 feet or less in a pot. The trees can be trained to any number of shapes such as pyramid, cone or globe.