Laurus nobilis, also known as sweet bay, is an evergreen tree that can reach up to 50 feet in height and 30 feet in diameter with proper care. The plant is commonly grown for its aromatic leaves, which are used as a seasoning in cooking. A single laurus nobilis tree can produce enough bay leaves to provide a constant supply of leaves year round, which makes it a practical choice for the landscape. Laurus nobilis flowers in late spring, but the tiny yellow-green flowers are inconspicuous, non-ornamental and often overlooked in favor of the leaves.
Plant laurus nobilis outdoors in a location that receives full sunlight throughout the day. Incorporate about 2 inches of organic compost into the soil at the planting site using a garden tiller. Space additional laurus nobilis trees at least 3 feet apart.
Water laurus nobilis trees once per week during all seasons to prevent the soil from drying out completely. Apply the water directly to the soil so moisture does not accumulate on the leaves, as wet foliage is more susceptible to developing fungal diseases.
Feed laurus nobilis once every three months using a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer. Water both before and after applying to prevent root burn and release the nutrients into the soil. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper application and dosage of fertilizer.
Prune laurus nobilis once per year in late winter, just before new growth begins in the spring. Use pruning shears to remove dead or damaged laurus nobilis limbs to increase aesthetic appeal, conserve nutrients and promote a compact growing habit.
Harvest bay leaves during mid-summer for maximum flavor. Remove leaves from branches individually to minimize damage to the tree. Harvest leaves one branch at a time to prevent the tree from appearing bare.