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How to Transplant a Laurel Shrub

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated September 21, 2017
Transplant a laurel shrub when it is dormant.
laurel blossom image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com

Whether you call your laurel simply a laurel shrub or you prefer the scientific name of laurus nobilis, this evergreen shrub makes a striking addition to any growing area. The laurus nobilis with its dark green leaves is the same bay laurel that provides savory bay leaves for cooking. If you must move a laurel shrub, transplant it in the winter while the plant is not actively growing.

Transplant to a Larger Container

Prepare the larger container by covering the bottom drainage holes with several layers of paper towels. The paper towels will prevent soil from pouring out the drainage holes when you water the laurel. Fill the container approximately 1/3 full of new potting soil.

Place the existing container on its side and roll it back and forth carefully to loosen the root ball inside the container. When the roots are sufficiently loose, pull gently up on the trunk of the laurel to lift it from the container.

Transfer the laurel from the old container to the new container and situate it in the new container so the crown of the shrub is at the same depth as it was in the old container. Add soil to the container, tamping it down firmly with your hands.

Water the laurel shrub generously immediately after you transplant it. Place the container back into its growing location. Keep the soil evenly moist after transplanting it, especially while the shrub acclimates to the new container.

Transplant in the Garden Bed

Prepare a new planting area in full sun or in partial sun in a spot with some protection from harsh winds. Cultivate the soil with the garden spade down to a depth of 4 to 6 inches and add 2 inches of compost to the top of the soil. Mix the compost into the soil with the garden spade.

Dig a hole for the laurel shrub that is approximately 2 inches deeper than the root system and about twice as wide.

Remove the laurel shrub from its current planting location. If the laurel shrub is in a container, loosen it from the container gently and carefully pull the shrub out. If the laurel shrub is growing in the soil, carefully dig the shrub from the soil with the shovel. Do not disturb the roots as you remove the shrub from the soil.

Place the laurel shrub into the prepared hole. Spread the roots carefully in the hole and hold the shrub with one hand to ensure it will be at the same depth as it was previously growing. Fill the soil in around the roots and carefully pack the soil down firmly around the roots. Continue adding soil until you finish planting the laurel shrub.

Provide a generous watering for the laurel shrub immediately after you transplant it. Moisten the soil thoroughly but stop before puddles form. Keep the laurel shrub evenly moist during the first month to ensure it adjusts to its new location.


Things You Will Need

  • Larger planting container (2 to 4 inches larger than the existing container)
  • Paper towels
  • Potting soil
  • Garden spade
  • Compost
  • Shovel


  • A laurel shrub will give you indications that you must transplant it. Look to see how far out the root ball extends in the container. If the root ball is reaching the outer edges of the container, you must transplant the laurel shrub. Often a laurel shrub will become unstable in the container, another indication it is time to transplant it.

About the Author


Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.