This beautiful broadleaf evergreen is native to the dry climate surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Valued since ancient times for its leathery, aromatic leaves, it is the sweet bay used for culinary seasoning, and was the stuff of the victor’s laurel crown awarded in the games of ancient Greece. Bay laurel is now grown in many countries as a commercial crop. It also makes a fine ornamental, and has yielded several cultivars with varying foliage forms and colors.
In its native habitat, bay laurel can grow to a tree of considerable height with age, but is most often seen as a large to medium-sized shrub. Its forms an upright, branching, conical form, with trunk and branches covered in glossy, pale gray bark. The leathery, pointed, dark green leaves are lance-shaped to broadly oval, with wavy, finely toothed margins, and emit a pungent fragrance when crushed or broken. Clusters of small, greenish yellow flowers appear in spring, with pollen-producing male flowers and fruit-bearing female flowers borne on separate plants. Following pollination, those of female plants mature to round, purple to black fruits that contain a single seed. These may cause problems with pavement staining if plants are sited too closely to walks or driveways.
Bay laurel is best grown in part sun to part shade, and fertile, well-drained soil. Regular moisture is ideal, but standing water or soggy conditions should be avoided. Protect from harsh winter winds to avoid desiccation of foliage. The plants are quite attractive if allowed to grow naturally, but have traditionally been sheared to create topiary forms or to limit their size (possibly to eliminate fruit production). Care should be taken if pruning, as the bark is susceptible to sunburn if the canopy is clipped to closely.
This handsome evergreen is suitable for mixed borders, foundation plantings, or as an accent in the home kitchen garden. Plants may be grown in containers to be brought indoors in colder regions. Fresh or dried bay leaves are a delicious seasoning for soups, stews and Italian dishes, and are an essential ingredient of bouquet garni, small bundles of herbs used in French cooking. Inserting the leaves into cereal or flour containers is a very effective old-time remedy for repelling pantry weevils. (info source: Learn2Grow.com)
Genus - Laurus
Species - Nobilis
Common name - Bay Laurel
Germination rate - 55%
Pre-Treatment - Required
Plant type - Shrub
Vegetation type - Evergreen
Hardiness zones - 8 - 11
Exposure - Full Sun, Partial Sun
Height - 5'-40' / 1.50 - 12 m
Spread - 5'-30' / 1.50 - 9 m
Growth rate - Medium
Bloom season - Spring
Leaf / Flower color - Dark Green / Yellow-green
Soil PH - Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil type - Clay, laom, Sand, well drained
Water requirements - Average Water
Landscape uses - Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier
Seed is very perishable. Store cold until sowing. Do not let the seed heat up, mold or ferment.
1. Moisten peat moss and place it in a plastic bag. The peat needs to be completely wet but not sodden. Place the seeds into the bag and envelop the seeds in the dampened peat. Close the bag and put it in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for 60 days.
2. Remove the bag when the time has elapsed and separate out the seeds. Use a piece of sandpaper to scuff the seeds until you can see the white interior in several places. Laurus nobilis is notoriously hard to germinate and stratification and scarification are two methods to break dormancy.
3. Mix half portions of potting soil and compost and line the seed flat. Press the seed into the medium with 1 inch between them. Sift fine sand over the top of the seed and press down to make certain each one has contact with the medium.
4. Mist the seed flat until the planting medium is evenly moist 2 to 3 inches down. Place the lid on the flat to make a mini greenhouse. Put the flat on the seed warmer set to at least 65F.
5. Check the soil every three to four days to see if it is moist. If the lid fits properly, the seed should not need to be misted. Remove the lid once a week to allow the flat to dry so the seed doesn't rot. This is the most common problem with the seed.
6. Look at the flat closely in Weeks 3 and 4 as this is the shortest expected germination time. The seeds can also take up to six months. Continue to apply the heat and occasional moisture and wait. When the plants have emerged and carry their second set of true leaves, they need to be repotted and grown on. (source: ehow.com)
Some growers will remove dark seed skin and plant exposed to the light on 70F growing bench. Seed does not require a pre-treatment. Note our recommendation as follows: Soak berries in cold water for 1 or 2 days then rub with a coarse sand. This gently breaks the skin/pulp so water may enter and reach the endocarp. Sow at temperature 77F (never below 68F). Bury seed 0.5 inches deep. Germination may take about 2 months.
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