The bay leaf tree (Laurus nobilis), also known as the bay laurel tree, is a small evergreen tree that has shiny, dark-green, fragrant leaves that are used as an herb in a wide range of cuisine. The tree also blooms in small clusters of white flowers in the spring and produces tiny purplish-black berries in summer. The bay leaf tree can withstand winter temperatures down to about 19 degrees Fahrenheit. The small tree can grow up to 50 or 60 feet tall, but it usually reaches only 10 feet in height at most when planted in a home landscape or container. You can begin harvesting the bay leaves when the tree is just two years old.
Plant your bay leaf tree in early fall or mid-spring. Select a planting site that has well-draining soil and full sunlight.
Dig a planting hole for your Laurus nobilis that is twice the width and twice the depth of the nursery container. Mix into the displaced soil some organic compost, so that you have a half-and-half mixture of compost and native soil.
Plant the bay leaf tree at the same depth as the nursery container. Refill the planting hole halfway with the composted soil, remove the bay leaf tree from the nursery container and set the Laurus nobilis tree's roots into the planting hole.
Backfill the planting hole the rest of the way with the amended soil. Water the soil generously to soak it down to the depth of the root ball.
Water your bay leaf tree during dry spells to soak the soil down to the depth of the root ball. Feed your Laurus nobilis once each year in the spring with a slow-release, all-purpose tree fertilizer, according to the directions on the label.
Prune your Laurus nobilis each year in the spring to maintain its shape and control its size if desired. Remove all dead, damaged or diseased growth.