Laurus nobilis, also known as Sweet Bay or Bay Laurel, is a small to medium-sized tree most widely recognized for its aromatic leaves, which are used for culinary purposes. The tree also makes a beautiful addition to the home garden, and can be grown outdoors all year in warm climates. In cooler climates, Laurus nobilis is grown as a container plant, where it can easily be transported indoors during winter. The tree is easy to grow and requires only minimal maintenance to thrive.
Plant Laurus nobilis outdoors in fertile, well-drained soil or in a container filled with high-quality potting mix enhanced with organic compost. Sweet bay is best grown outdoors in zones 7-10. In all other zones, grow the tree in a container and move indoors when temperatures drop to around 40 degrees Fahrenheit in late fall or winter.
Provide Laurus nobilis with full sun to partial shade and keep the plant in an area that is protected from harsh winter winds. Place container-grown plants in a cool, bright location when brought indoors during winter for the best results.
Water Laurus nobilis at least once a week, or enough to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Increase watering to twice per week during extremely hot temperatures or in drought-like conditions. Container plants may need more water, up to once per day, during hot weather. Never allow the soil to dry out completely.
Feed Laurus nobilis plants once per year using an all-purpose tree and shrub fertilizer. Refer to the instructions on the container for proper application rate. Water thoroughly before and after fertilizing to distribute the nutrients in the soil and prevent root burn.
Prune Laurus nobilis trees once per year to keep them growing vigorously and to prevent overgrowth. Cut back damaged or unruly branches and leaves using pruning shears. Prune when the plant is not actively growing in late fall or winter.