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How to Care for a Bay Leaf Tree

By Steven White ; Updated September 21, 2017
Proper pruning ensures the bay tree remains at a manageable size.
secateurs image by hazel proudlove from Fotolia.com

The bay leaf tree, Laurus nobilis, is a hardy, fast growing tree that thrives in sunlight. Similar to other trees, bay leaf trees require consistent pruning to avoid becoming unmanageably large. A bay leaf tree left to its own will grow to a height of 40 feet with a width of 32 feet. For outdoor planting, the bay tree thrives in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 10. If you want to grow this tree specifically for its leaves, which are used in many recipes, consider keeping the tree to a size of 3 to 4 feet.

Prune the tree conservatively using secateurs for its first two years, harvesting the leaves for cooking. After its third year, the tree can be pruned and shaped as desired. Always prune during the tree's dormant season of winter and early spring.

Provide the tree with adequate nutrients through a slow-release fertilizer applied annually around the root system during the growing season.

Weed around the tree by hand, as weeding tools can damage the tree's shallow root system.

Water the tree deeply whenever the soil has dried out to a depth of 2 inches below the soil line. Deep watering is the process of filling up the tree's well and allowing the water to completely sink into the soil. Create a tree well by digging a 4-inch deep trench around the base of the tree. An average size tree well will have a 2-foot radius around the tree's trunk. Fill the tree's well twice each time you water.


Things You Will Need

  • Secateurs
  • Slow-release fertilizer

About the Author


Steven White is a privately contracted software engineer and efficiency analyst. He has more than five years of experience providing technical support for AT&T broadband customers. Along with his technology background, White enjoys carpentry and plumbing.