I have a bay plant that is
approx. 20 years old. Living in CT, I bring it inside
every year and then in the spring, back outside it
goes. It is approx. 4 ft tall
with lots of shoots and stems. Every year, the main
plant sends up shoots from the base. I would like to
"divide" or "separate" the shoots but do not know the
best way or even if this is advised. Any ideas on best
way to proceed? thank-you. K
Bay laurel has a
reputation for being difficult to propagate, but since
yours is volunteering, maybe you will have more luck.
You could try digging the shoots along with as much of
their roots as possible and planting them. It may take
up to a year for it to become a viable plant so be
We have heard that some types of
laurel leaves are poisonous. How do we tell the
difference between those you can use in cooking and
those that are poisonous please? We moved into a house
with laurel bushes (which local people call bay) but we
are not sure whether they are safe to cook with or not.
Thank you. AB
I live in South Louisiana. Will a
bay tree grow down here? CS
I should think it would
thrive. Bay laurels can't tolerate the cold but I don't
think your climate would pose any problem.
I have a bay laurel tree and this
year it has purple berries. What can I use them for?
Bay berries are usually
pressed for oil to be used as a food additive or in
cosmetics. I can't find a single reference for cooking
with them so I can't recommend it.
I have a new Bay tree in a 6” pot
and wonder when is the best time to prune it? I would
like a bushy plant rather than a tall tree. It is on a
balcony in Victoria, Canada. Thank you DM
You can prune a bay at just
about any time of the year. They are fairly slow growers
so you might want to wait until it reaches the height
you prefer and then snip from the top first. This will
encourage more bushy growth.
Can I use bay leaves without
drying them? Are they weaker or stronger in taste? MG
As long as you are sure
they are actually bay leaves (see the article
Nine Ways to Use the Herb of
the Year 2009) you can certainly use them fresh.
Theoretically, they would be weaker in taste but I
haven't noticed a marked difference between the two in
The cookbook is now available
for purchase! To find out more about it as well as take advantage
of special website pricing ($8 off--use discount code U9KGY74Z)
Spiced Right e-store at CreateSpace.
We bought a lovely bay tree in
memory of our little boy who we lost last summer – we
chose a bay as we thought it would be robust and survive
the usually mild winters we have in GB. However, due to
the severe winter and harsh frosts, the leaves of the
bay tree have all turned brown and it looks as though it
is dying. The tree is potted and stands about 4 foot
high. Can you please give us some tips on how we may be
able to revive the tree – any help will be much
I'm so sorry for your tragic
loss. We are having the same problem with our bay tree
at the demonstration garden. You can check to see if it
is still alive by scratching the bark on one of the
limbs close to the trunk. If you see a bit of green or
white, the tree will probably be okay. Our tree showed
the green so we snipped off all of the brown leaves and
are hoping for the best.
Is it possible to use the
berries of laura nobilis?
Bay oil is pressed from
the berries of laurus nobilis and has been known
to alleviate joint pain. They won't hurt you if eaten in
small quantities, however, apparently they are extremely
I have dried the leaves of my 10
year old Bay Laurel from time to time, however they
never seem to be as fragrant or flavorful as the ones I
buy at the grocery store. I'm wondering why? JG
I was given a small bay tree that
was about 2 feet tall. It's growing indoors as we live
in a very cold winter climate. After the first year, it
had grown about a foot and I repotted it into a larger
container. It has really grown quickly since then. It
just reached about 6 feet tall, but the only side
branches are at the bottom of the tree. Recently, the
tall top of the tree started to lean over. I had to
support the upper part of the tree with string to keep
it from leaning over at nearly a right angle. I would
like to prune it in a way that will stimulate the growth
of more side branches. Can I cut it off about 2 feet
from its top? That's the point at which it is leaning
over. Will that cause more side branches to appear? What
a pleasure to find this website - thank you for your
You are right on track.
Pruning from the top will cause the tree to branch out.
Just keep in mind you don't want to take more than one
third of any plant at a time.
I am washing and packing to
sell 'nice large' bay leaves at a market and was told by
a "Miss Know all" that this particular tree is not a
'cooking' bay leaf tree. Is this possible?? Please help
me before I pack. HH
Is it possible to root a bay
laurel cutting? Can you tell me how? Thank you. BG
Bay laurel is notoriously
difficult to propagate. The best way to attempt it is
through the process of "layering." Basically, you bend a
branch down, nick the bark with a knife and fasten it to
the ground under soil. You might also try taking a
cutting and using a rooting hormone. Be aware that it
may take months for the plant to root using either
Can bay leaf grow in
Washington, DC and can bay leaf be stored in a freezer?
Love your site. DW
I'm thinking the
temperatures in DC drop well below 20 degrees for
extended periods of time in the winter, don't they? If
this is the case you would want to grow bay in a
container that you could move to a protected area during
cold spells. You could certainly store bay leaves in the
freezer but they dry so well, I don't see the point.
This is not a question, but
actually a comment for "C" with the house flies on her
bay plant. We have the same problem, and after a bit of
sleuthing have determined that the plant actually has a
(fairly mild) scales infestation, and the flies are
feasting on the honeydew. P
Thanks for giving us another
idea to solve the problem.
Hello, I am in Norwich, UK.
Today, I came home to find that my husband had decided
to trim the bayleaf tree outside our door. It was
blocking the front window and about to block the
satellite dish. Unfortunately, he has never had a garden
of any kind at all, and did not check beforehand how
much pruning was wise to do. It was about 11 feet high
with a trunk about 6 inches thick. It is now two feet
shorter, but the worst is that he has nearly cut it back
to sticks. I stopped him before he got to the very last
part of it so there are a few, a very few, leafy
branches left. From a little initial research, it seems
he may well have put the tree in serious danger of
survival. Is there anything at all we can do to try to
save it? DC
You might want to check with
a certified arborist but I have a feeling the tree will
be okay. It sounds like it was well established so just
keep an eye on it, water it a bit if your conditions are
dry for long periods and see what happens.
If I am without bay leaves what
herb would you use next? CJ
You can just skip the bay
leaves without disastrous results. There is no good
substitute but you might add a sprig of thyme or
Hi. I have a 4ft bay shrub in
the garden which I grew from a tiny shoot about 5 years
ago. As we changed the patio this spring I unfortunately
had to move it in March and although it seemed ok for a
while it is now fast developing a white creamy substance
over the trunk and onto branches. The leaves especially
at the top are turning yellow. It looks quite fungal to
me (although I am no expert) and fast moving. I can wipe
it off with kitchen paper but the trunk still looks a
bit white afterwards. Am also worried our cats might
have used the area as a toilet and have affected it.
Please help! Thanks! KH
Hmmm, I'm a little stumped
here. It could be some sort of cankers although I can't
find any that match your description. Could it also be
powdery rather than creamy? Powdery mildew is white but
usually described as looking sort of like flour or
talcum powder. You might want to see if you can get
someone to come out and look at it for an accurate
How do you make bay leaf oil
juice? Do you boil leaves in water? AB
I've never heard of bay leaf
oil juice. Essential oils are extracted from herbs
through the process of steam distillation which is
something we can't accomplish at home. You might find
bay leaf oil at your local health food store.
I live just north of Vancouver, BC
have had my bay leaf plant in the garden for 16 years.
Always very healthy until this spring I noticed the
leaves all looked like they had been frozen (we did have
an unusually cold winter) looking closer I see inside
the tree the leaves are green but are also covered with
rust. Can I do anything to save this plant? MH
It is important to determine
whether your plant has suffered from winter damage or if
it is actually a case of the fungal disease called rust.
Chances are good that the plant can recover from the
cold winter if you give it some time. You may want to
snip an affected branch and take the sample in to your
local Master Gardeners for a diagnosis.
Hi, We had a harsh winter here and
my bay tree seems to have gotten frozen. The tree is
about 8' high and HAD been very healthy but is now
entirely covered in brown leaves? What should I do? I am
wondering if I need to cut the plant way back, or is it
This is a tree rather than
an herb plant so you should consult with a certified
arborist to decide on the best approach.
Hi, our family just bought a bay
leaf plant (very small, maybe 10 inches) a month or so
ago. The problem is, it is now spitting the honeydew
substance previously mentioned in this column, also
there are small white things (sort of cottony, very
small, could be bugs??) covering the plant/leaves. It is
early spring and we live in Massachusetts so keeping it
outside may not be healthy if it happens to snow again.
Please help!! G
isn't the plant that is producing the honeydew, it's
some sort of pest. You might want to do research on
mealy bugs. Try to find a photograph of the bugs to
compare to those on your plant. You can actually
eliminate several different pests simply by giving the
plant a strong blast of water.
To make bay leaf tea can branches
be boiled also? PE
I don't think I would want
to include the branches. It's the leaves that have the
Hi! I have a 3 year old bay
plant in the yard, leaves have brown spots that look
like dried spots. Could one still use these for cooking
or are these brown spotted leaves health hazards when
consumed? Thank you. ZM
Leaf spot can be caused by a
variety of fungal or bacterial diseases. It would be
best to determine the cause, take a few affected leaves
to your local garden center, before using them for
cooking. While they are not likely to hurt you,
especially since you don't actually eat the leaf, I
think I would use the leaves without spots.
I purchased a Laurus nobilis
this past summer and brought it in the house in the
fall. It was doing fine, until this week, when I noticed
that the leaves were curling and looking like they could
fall off. I also noticed what appears to be new leaves
forming just above these curling leaves. The plant is
about 16 inches tall, not near any heat vents and I live
in Northern Illinois. If the leaves fall off do you
think new leaves will form? Please Help. Thank you. NB
Sounds like new leaves are
already sprouting so it could be just a normal
regeneration process. Continue to give it the same care
while it's indoors but keep in mind, most houseplants
are killed from too much attention rather than too
My grandmother left me a jar of
home dried bay leaves, which I used up. They were
bottled with a variety of other seeds, which gave the
bay leaves a wonderful and long lasting aroma/flavor. I
would like to find a similar recipe for the bay leaves. ie..which seeds might be bottled with them. Do you have
any information on this subject?
Thank you. CH
Since this is a home
brew, so to speak, it's hard to say what was included in
the mixture unless you have some of the seeds left. If
you do, check out the "Spice
Photos Page" to see if maybe you can identify them
I have a bay tree and a laurel
tree, what the difference, the bay leaf are about 6inch
long, the laurel are about 10 inch long, can you use
both in cooking? Please help. VAL
This is where it is
important to know botanical names. Laurus nobilis
is the culinary bay leaf, although Umbellularia
californica baylaurel is considered by some
to be similar in taste. Other laurels such as the one
known as daphne, or mountain laurel and cherry laurel
may be toxic if ingested. Be sure to identify both trees
before using their leaves in the kitchen.
I have two bay laurel plants in
pots that I bring indoors in the winter. One of them is
covered in honeydew, and the backs of the older leaves
have many 3-4 mm oval things on them. Are these aphids?
Or aphid eggs? None of them move-they seem to be stuck
in the honeydew. I am wondering if I should discard this
plant, to prevent my other plants from becoming
I suggest you do an image
search on Google to see if aphids look like your pest.
If they are aphids, you can probably get rid of them by
spraying the affected areas with a strong stream of
water. You might want to do this several times before
bringing it indoors.
For four years my bay leaf
plant has been growing in a 6" pot. Lately all the
leaves are curling, turning brown and dropping. My plant
is a skeleton, yet the branches appear healthy. What are
the growing conditions for a bay leave plant? PK
Bay laurel likes a basic
potting soil mix with good drainage, quite a lot of
sunshine and a yearly feeding. It's easy to overwater
but you don't want it to dry out completely either. Your
plant might enjoy a new, larger pot with some fresh
soil. Six inches is pretty small for a four year old
I have a recipe that calls for 10
whole fresh bay leaves. Can I substitute dried bay
leaves? How many? BL
You could go with half as
many dried bay leaves but I suspect that you are going
to thread them onto skewers or some sort of layering
that dried leaves end up crumbling.
We have moved into a house in the
last 6 months that has an 18ft high bay tree. Sadly the
leaves are turning yellow then brown and dropping off.
Some leaves look as though they have been nibbled. We
can find no trace of anything that is eating the leaves.
Some leaves are curling at the edges. The trunk of the
tree was green and this we have scrubbed off but the
leaves continue to drop. The tree has had a flourish of
white flowers at the top this year and new growth is
evident. Are you able to advise what the problem could
be please. TS
An 18 foot tree is a out of
my area of expertise. You should really consult an
arborist. If there is a problem with pests or disease it
is probably not too late to treat it since the tree is
showing new and normal growth.
Hello, I live in Winnipeg,
Canada. I have a small Bay plant that I bring in for the
winter. I was told that when harvesting the leaves you
should cut them leaving about 1/4 inch of the leaf still
on the plant rather than plucking off the entire leaf
from its stem. Can you tell me which is the proper way?
I can't imagine the point of
leaving a bit of the leaf on the plant like that. The
best way I know is to gently pull down on the leaf to
separate it at a natural point from the plant.
I just got this Bay Leaf plant
last summer. It was growing quite well starting to put
out short branches then discovered that half the plant
was sticky from scale. I wiped them off with alcohol in
February and have not seen any change in terms of
growth. Should I do anything special to it? Special type
of fertilizer? It has not turned brown. Still green. Is
it dormant? Thanks for your help. GS
Dormancy would be a good
call. Once you notice that it has begun to grow again
you might give it a light fertilizer application. Resist
the temptation to overwater it--they don't need much.
I live in New Orleans, LA and
have a five year old bay leaf plant on my balcony that
seems to be suffering from some kind of rust. I have
removed the most badly affected leaves but am reluctant
to remove any more because almost all of the leaves are
affected to a small degree and I don't want to kill the
plant. I read somewhere that sulfur could help in
treating some kinds of rust. Do you think that could
work in this case? If so, how is it applied? I was also
thinking that it may need to be repotted. What size of
pot should I use for a 14" high plant? Thanks, TJ
Rust is a nasty fungal
disease that is notoriously difficult to eliminate.
First, I encourage you to take a few leaves, or even a
good portion of a branch, to
your local university extension office to get a
final diagnosis. Sulfur could be the answer but you must
use care in applying it as it is moderately toxic to
humans and animals. Ask your local nursery for their
recommendations on a specific product and exactly how to
apply it. As for repotting, just go to a pot that is two
or three inches larger all around the the one the plant
is in now.
Hi there, I have a beautiful
standard bay tree about 6.5 ft tall. I noticed last year
that a few of the leaves had become mottled with light
green. This seems to be spreading, more and more leaves
are turning. Other than the mottling, these leaves seem
to be perfectly healthy, and the tree itself is in great
condition. Can you help? (I live in North Devon and the
tree is in a sheltered south-facing position. It was
repotted last year.) Hope you can help. Kind regards, LS
It's impossible to diagnose
without seeing the plant so you will want to take a
sample branch to someone local who can help you. The
symptoms may indicate something as simple as a lack
nutrients but they could also reflect a serious viral
Hello and thank you for a
wonderful site!! I have a small 1' bay about 4 years old
(affectionately known as "Bay-by" of course) that is an
indoor plant here in Wyoming. We have gone through
scale, overwatering, harsh sunlight, blights and half of
the Bush presidency together. I would love for the tree
to grow taller, but it has a branched trunk at about 5"
so there is no leader. We are now seeing very tall
shoots of new growth (about 12") which are rather
awkward on our "bonsai-like" bay. Should I let them grow
recklessly, or trim them back? Will they help grow
Bay-by taller? We are at 6500 feet in altitude--does
that have any effect on the noble Bay? Thank you so much
for your input! MS
Since there is no leader to
your little tree, it probably won't grow taller in the
way you might expect. It will grow, slowly, but it will
have a tendency to bush out now. You can trim a bay tree
just about any way you please and snipping will lead to
a fuller-looking plant.
My bay leaf plant has copperish- colored leaves with some black spots on less
than 10% of the plant. What is it and how can I save my
beautiful plant? AL
It's next to impossible to
accurately diagnose a plant problem without seeing it.
Your best bet is collect a few affected leaves and take
them to show to your local master gardeners or a
professional at a nursery/garden center.
I moved into a new house a year
ago, and have what I believe is a bay tree in my
backyard. It smells similar to bay and the leaf appears
to be a bay leaf. Are there any look alikes that could
be poisonous that I should be careful of? I am only
hesitant to try an herb I am not absolutely certain of.
You are wise to use caution
with plants that you aren't sure about. Your best bet is
to trim a small twig and take it to someone who
specializes in herbs, perhaps at a garden center or
I bought a bay tree over a year
ago. It grew well until we moved to an apartment and
went through a long hot Arizona summer. When we watered
the tree it gave off a weird odor. We let it dry out and
all the leaves fell off. We were left with bare stems.
One main stem remained green. We thought the plant was
gone but yesterday noted a green shoot with several
leaves on it. We moved the plant to a sunny area on the
patio. Is this plant a goner or do we have a chance? DP
Sounds like there is hope
since you have green shoots. Time will tell.
Our Bay Tree is suddenly
sweating clear sticky liquid that is actually spritzing
our hardwood floor with a fine sticky mist. The leaves
look like they have been misted but to touch they are
dripping with sap-like liquid. I booted her outside and
sprayed her down but we are in MN and winter is just
around the corner. She has to come in again but if I
have to deal with this mess she has to die. She is over
10 years old. JRG
The sticky liquid is
"honeydew," excrement from some sort of insect. With a
bay tree it is likely scale but impossible to say
without seeing the plant. Inspect it closely to see if
you notice any bugs and be sure to check out the rest of
this page for other problems and solutions.
I have a bay leaf tree that is
infested by small aphid-like bugs that cause the new
leaves to curl under on one side, causing the curled
portion to turn yellow and brittle, and the bugs leave
small white debris on the back-sides of the leaves
(lightweight, look like husks or something). The bugs
themselves have wings, they're light brown, and are
lightning fast launchers when you disturb them. They're
really doing a ugly number on the tree (which is one of
my favorites) any advice would be welcomed in terms of
getting rid of these pests!
Hmmm, sounds like thrips.
Do a Google image search to double check me. If it is,
you can encourage or release beneficial bugs like
lacewings, lady beetles or predatory mites. For a
quicker fix, you could try insecticidal soap.
I have two standard bay trees
given to me as a Christmas present this year. They are
about 3 ft tall each. The new growth has leaves that
have a weird curling pattern, as if they were closing
around a caterpillar. There isn't a caterpillar inside
the furl, only black speckles. Can you please tell me
what this is, and how to prevent this happening in
future? Many thanks. AR
Could be leaf rollers. Try
doing a Google search on them to see if you can make a
Hello, I just purchased two small
Laurel Bay plants. I have a lot of leaves. Can I freeze
the leaves for later use during the winter? If so,
exactly how do I freeze them? Is drying better than
freezing? Also, how do I maintain my plants over the
winter? Do I have to bring them inside my house? TW
You know, with two plants
you will probably have all the fresh leaves you'll need
so there might not be much point in preserving them.
I've never thought about freezing them but you would
likely end up with mushy leaves if you did. You could
try just laying a few out in a single layer and freezing
them to see what happens. Your climate dictates winter
care. Don't expose the plants to temperatures much below
20-25 degrees (F).
I saw some possible similarities
between my problem and others in your bay q&a. I’ve
nipped off just about all the new growth because the new
leaves were curling (parallel to the centre), and I
thought this could be peach leaf curl as it had been
very wet and I couldn’t see signs of any insect
infestation. Then I noticed some leaves had a sprinkling
of small white cubic crystals. The old leaves seem fine.
Do you know what this is and is there any way of
preventing it in future? JT
I'm stumped on this one
although the white crystals seem familiar to me in a way
I can't remember! One thing though, could it be salt?
Either from watering or some use in the local
I have a 4/5 year old potted bay,
it has always stood in the same place. Last year it was
inundated by the common house fly for most of the
summer, they swarmed all over it. Leaving it looking
rather sad. I didn't treat it with anything as I didn't
know what to try. When the cooler weather arrived they
disappeared, and the bay returned to a healthy looking
tree. Now this year as the weather warms up they are
returning again. Any suggestions would be much
appreciated. Regards C
First make sure they
really are house flies. Tachinid flies look very similar
and are a good bug that eats caterpillars. If they are
house flies, this is really unusual. I can't find any
source that addresses them as a plant pest. I suppose
the best thing to do would be to hang some fly paper
near your plant but you might want to contact your local
extension office to see if they can offer any advice.
HI, I have a bay tree in a
large pot outside that is about 6 years old. Last year I
noticed a few small grey disc like things on the
underside of the leaves, this year there are a quite a
lot of them, the leaves are not curling or going brown
but they are being eaten, I cannot see any sign of any
other pests such as caterpillars. Any I deas? J, Sussex,
Might be scale. Please see
for a link listed as 'a good online article about
We have an established bay bush
growing in a large tub outdoors. Now in its 5th year it
has suddenly developed curling leaves at the top – the
youngest leaves are almost all affected. The curl is
parallel to the centre line, leaving the leaves looking
like needles. There’s no obvious sign of infestation.
Any advice as to what is causing it and how we can
remediate would be welcome. JT
This sounds like a very
unusual condition. Peach leaf curl is a fungus disease
but your description doesn't meet typical symptoms of
that. It might be an indication that your plant has come
in contact with an herbicide. Your best bet is to take a
sample to your local county extension office for
I want to take a cutting from a
bay leaf tree that belonged to my grandfather. This tree
has sentimental value as he planted it when he came over
from Italy. Will it grow from a transplant and if so,
where and how much do I cut? Thank you! LFC
Please see the entry that
is highlighted 'start a "new" rosemary plant' on the
Gardening Q&A Page for
a link to help you.
Hi, We have two ball bay trees in
large pots. Many new shoots have come through this
spring/summer. But now I am noticing the leaves on the
inside branches have turned yellow and are falling off.
What can I do? Many thanks in advance. Kindest regards
I'm afraid yellow leaves are
symptomatic of a wide variety of problems. Consider overwatering, rootbound in the pot, lack of nutrients,
lack of sunlight and just a natural cycle of plant life
all as potential problems.
Hi I wonder if you could help, I
have 8 bay trees soil planted and one has a lot of bare
branches and some yellowing leaves. what can I do to
help it? I also live in Scotland, could it be damaged by
The yellowing leaves could
indicate a drainage problem but it could really be
anything. Since I'm not familiar with your climate, you
would probably get more help from a local expert.
We have a bay leaf tree about
3-4 feet high - we received this plant almost a year ago
and keep it inside in a room that receives good light
throughout the day. I give the tree about 4-5 cups of
water every week (usually when the soil looks dry).
However, it seems that a lot of the leaves are turning
brown and falling off; I'd say about 1/2 of the tree
looks healthy, while the other half looks "dead". Please
advise on what we can do to keep this tree alive. Thanks
in advance for your help! STP
I wonder if your plant is
close to a heating vent? You might also check the bark
for scale and/or the leaves for mealy bugs. Both are
common pests on houseplants.
My potted bay tree is 2 years
old. We live in Canada and have kept the tree indoors -
except for the tree's first summer with us. The tree has
been sitting in a west-facing window. A few months ago I
was thrilled to see new shoots growing at the top of the
plant, but then all of a sudden the shoots shrivelled,
all the leaves turned brown, curled and almost all of
them have fallen off, and I'm now left with twigs in a
pot, which is distressing. I have not re-potted since
getting the plant or fertilised - was this my problem?
Is it too late or can I still revive the plant? Most of
the stems are woody, but at least one stem is still
relatively green? Any advice much appreciated. -JK
It is hard to say what
went wrong with the new growth of your plant although it
may have been scale. This insect often attacks indoor
plants. Check the bark closely for small, hard,
shield-like formations. You might tend to the "twigs"
for awhile as if they were a healthy plant and see if it
makes a comeback. Don't be tempted to overwater,
We live in New England and we
have received some bay leaf branches from the southern
part of Italy. The leaves are still pliable, not dry,
have berries, but have no roots at the stems. Is it
possible to root them or is our only option to dry them?
If so, can you suggest the best method to do so? LR
My motto when wondering
about things like this is: can't hurt to try. I would
make a new cut to the stem, dip it into a rooting
hormone and pop it into some sand to see what happens.
You can dry the leaves by placing them in a single layer
between some screening. Keep them in a dry airy place
out of direct sunlight for a few weeks.
Hi, I have a recipe that calls
for 6 ground Bay Leaves. I need to know approximately
how much 6 ground Bay Leaves equal in teaspoons.
Obviously I have ground Bay Leaves. Thks…IM
I ground up six average size
bay leaves and ended up with not quite a teaspoon.
I have been searching for a bay
laurel plant for quite some time now. I often make gumbo
& love the added flavor bay leaves add. All the local
nursery's I've visited don't carry them. I live in the
Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Any suggestions? PJL
Hi. I just found your site, and
read through many of the Q and A's. I bought a bay
laurel this past summer, and had it outside until about
September (in NJ). Brought it into my kitchen, where it
gets bright light all day-- strong sun in the mornings
when it was warmer. The plant's leaves are still a deep
green, and there are baby shoots on the one stem, but it
seems to be the same size, and none of these new leaves
are developing! From what I've read, I think I may be
watering too much, but is there anything else I can do
to encourage growth upward and outward? I've been afraid
to fertilize without knowing how much. Thanks. PW
Keep in mind that many
plants, even those in pots, may go dormant in the
winter. Bay laurels grow slowly to begin with. Wait
another month or two and apply a water-soluble
fertilizer once as you begin to re-introduce it to the
outdoors again. And do watch out for overwatering!
Hi. I read all your articles and
emails about bay leaves but to my surprise most of the
bay leaves tree are small. In my case, I lived in CA,
and we have 1.3 acre lot and it surrounded by California
bay leaves. We have more than 50 bay leaves trees and
their huge. I am even thinking if I can use this
resources to start a business. So please let me know, if
there's any business opportunities for these. Thank you
very much. Sincerely, CJ
It is important to
identify the exact species of your tree. The bay that we
like to cook with is Laurus nobilis. California
bay, Umbellulariacalifornica, is not
edible but could be used for crafting projects. As for
business opportunities, once you have established the
type of tree, perhaps your local Small Business
Administration office could give you some pointers.
Is there a health danger to eating
bay leaves, or is this just an old wives tale? L
(near the bottom) you will find several questions that
address the "hazards" of eating bay leaves.
Hello, I have a 20 year old bay
tree doing very well expect this year it seems to have
about 40 suckers which have grown very quickly and are
very strong. Do I just take to them with the pruning
shears or is there some other way to eliminate them. T
Pruning shears will be your
best bet. Just nip them close to the base but take care
not to harm the main trunk.
I have a bay laurel tree that I
bought last year. It is in a 12inch container. It has
grown about 2 1/2 feet. It is just a tall skinny trunk
with leaves from the bottom to the top. Three new plants
have come up at the bottom this summer. My question is
how do I trim the tree so it will grow wider in the
shape of a pyramid like it should be? When should I do
this? I live in South Carolina. DC
You will want to remove
those new plants, "suckers," from the plant right away.
You can harvest leaves from the plant year around but
major pruning is best done in the spring beginning after
the second year's growing season. Once the plant has
reached the height that you want, remove the uppermost
leaves and it will begin to take on a more desirable
I live in Northern Indiana so I
do not think my Bay Tree would thrive in our sometimes
sub zero weather. My tree is probably about 15 years old
and almost 8 feet tall. The structure of the tree is
pretty much free formed and at this time has gotten
gangly with leaves on the ends of the branches. The
height is starting to be way too tall for my house also.
I wondered if I pruned the branches to a more manageable
length would new leaves develop there even though there
are no leaves there now? If I top the plant would that
stop the heightening? I have been keeping it in a
building where it gets some afternoon light but not a
lot with very cool temperature through the
winter...maybe around 40 degrees. This year I brought it
in the house where it will get more light but the
temperature will be higher...maybe around 65 most of the
time. Which environment would be better for the plant to
winter in? There are no heat ducts near where it would
be in either place. Thanks, I just found your site and
like it a lot. CSG
Trimming back the
branches of your bay should result in a bushier plant
although it may take time. Once you remove the uppermost
leaves it will stop growing up and begin to grow out.
Pruning is best done in the spring. Although inside the
house will probably be fine, my gut tells me that it
would prefer the cooler building where there are no
artificial environmental controls. In either location,
resist the temptation to overwater.
Dear Sir: We have a bay tree
that is three feet high. We have had the tree for
about five years. We keep the tree inside for the
winter and outside in the summer. Everything was fine
until we brought it in one night and it was all
sticky. The wife took it outside and sprayed it and
brought it back in. But what we have noticed is that
the leafs curl up and drop off. We have not seen any
bugs on it. But it still gets sticky and we have to
spray it again. The leaf when it falls off goes yellow
and has a brown line on the outside of the leaf. Could
you tell us what could cause this and how to solve the
It is hard to say
without seeing the plant but I could guess that you
have a case of "scale." The stickiness is called
honeydew and is the excrement of the bug that is
sucking plant juices that kill the leaves.
University of California at Davis provides a
good online article about scale.
Hi, I'm from Cambridge, UK. We have just moved into a house where a 15 ft bay tree takes up a large sunny portion of the garden. It seems a real shame to cut the whole thing down as it is so well-established, but space is required for other plants/vegetables. I would like to prune to about 5 or 6 ft, but the trunks are quite thick and I wonder if it would sprout heathly new growth at this size, and whether it could be re-trained. Can you advise me?
A 15 foot tree is beyond my knowledge of growing herbs. I think you should contact a tree expert in your local area.
I have a bay tree/bush that is about 5 tall but I want to transplant it. I live in Charlotte North
Carolina. Should I transplant in Fall or Spring? DT
Fall is a good time to move plants so that they have a chance to establish their new roots before it gets too hot again.
We have a bay leaf tree in Dallas. It grows magnificently every summer. However, we have two distinct leaf shapes/flavours. One leaf is serrated and the other straight edged. We're assuming this is a grafted plant, but don't know which branches to prune? Thanks GL
I think this is one of those
questions that you should ask a local expert like a Master Gardener. You can find one in your area by Googling the words Master Gardener along with the name of your county.
Hi, I have a 6 ft high believe over 20 year old bay tree, we have kept it in shape by pruning each year but,
this year we noticed all the leaves seem to go brown over a couple of days, I then noticed a 8 inch split up the trunk where you can see right into the trunk. There is a white mildew around the trunk and on some of the branches? I am resigned to lose the tree, I just wanted to know if this is a regular occurrence. Can you assist please. Thanks. MR
Sir: Please help, we have two beautiful bay trees, transplanted from large pots in to the ground around 12 months ago. They are around 3ft 6” each. This was a harsh winter with heavy frost, but they are quite well sheltered from wind as we have a walled garden. One is thriving the other seems at death’s door – it has woolly Aphids, the bark of the trunk is splitting and most of the branches are very brittle, the majority of the leaves have fallen off, wither and drop. I have treated twice with a strong systemic preparation – is there hope of recovery? We are now in a very dry spell but are feeding and watering regularly. Many Thanks for your help. RR
Gee, you have done everything right but it sounds like it might be too late. Since you have used the systemic insecticide with little effect, I'm not sure what else would work. I think, if I were you, I would wage war on them with the garden hose. A strong stream of water aimed directly at the pests on a regular basis can do a world of good.
Could you please help me. I have a bay tree that is approx 6 years old and has developed yellow leaves and a white powdery fungus on the stems about 6" up from ground level. What is this and how can I treat it and could it affect my other one that is about 10 feet away? thank you AN
Sounds like powdery mildew which is, as you say, a fungal disease. It often arrives during times of hot days and cool nights or if the plant doesn't have adequate circulation. Once established, it is difficult to control. You might check with your local garden center to see if they can recommend a fungicide that you would be comfortable applying yourself.
Hi there. We live about 1000ft above sea level in Wales and have a bay tree which stands about 5 ft high. We purchased it 3 years ago and up until now it has done really well. Recently, the leaves at the tips have started to turn yellow, which I presumed was just shedding but I have noticed that the leaves are starting to turn brown and the tips of each branch are starting to turn black. Does this mean that it is dieing back. I haven`t over watered it, the only thing I have done differently this year is that I have moved it to another area of the garden. I hope you can offer some advice. Regards W
The plant could be suffering transplant shock. I wonder if the new location is very windy. Bays prefer a sheltered location. We have covered the culture of bay laurel quite a bit in the Q&A lately so you might scroll down this page and/or check out the Bay Q&A Page for further information.
I have a bay leaf plant that I pruned last year and the new young leaves do not have the same texture of the original plant; in fact they are very tender to the touch and are not hardening. Is this normal? If I place the plant in full sun it just burns the leaves and they just wilt and shrivel. What should I do to get this plant back to producing the dense, thick leaves that it once had? PB
Maybe you should just give the new leaves more time to grow and develop. It is normal for new growth to be tender.
Have two lovely bay trees in pots and the leaves have suddenly turned bright yellow in the centre. Am I over - watering? How often should I water them? Thanks for your help. LR
Hello, I live in the UK and have 2 bays, one standard about 12 years and one pyramid 3 years, the problem is both are developing yellow leaves but only on old wood, all the new growth is
very healthy looking. All the old leaves seem to be turning yellow - help please.
hi, we have two bay trees in our garden they were very healthy up until recently when the leaves have begun to turn yellow and we don't know why. We live in Bromsgrove near Birmingham, in England, the climate varies, but it is very hot at the moment. They are very well looked after and have plenty of room to grow in huge pots. We were wondering if they are turning yellow because of the hanging baskets which are above them because these need lots of water, it could drip of them onto the bay trees, this is the only solution we could think of. if you have any idea we would be grateful of an answer to the question. thanks
My goodness, we have yellowing bay leaves all over the world! Chances are, they are getting too much water. Bay is a Mediterranean plant and doesn't like wet feet. Regular watering should be dictated by when the soil has dried out, not by a set schedule. The point about the yellowing developing on the older leaves is an indicator of a nitrogen deficiency. Bay laurel shouldn't be fertilized more than once a year, preferably in the Spring, but that could be a part of the problem too.
Is there a tree that looks the same as bay leaf tree? CSR
are really two bay leaf trees: Laurus nobilis, or Mediterranean bay leaf, the one we like as an herb, and the California bay tree, Umbellularia californica, which is not particularly tasty.
When we purchased our home 10 years ago, the bay leaf tree in the yard was 3-4 feet tall; it is now at least 15 feet tall. It is against the house - the trunk about 2 feet away. It is situated on the northeast corner and shaded by two live oak trees from the north to the south with the house protecting it from the west. What should I be doing with my tree -- can money be made from the leaves? We trimmed the top last year when a hurricane was heading our way to protect the shingles, but my husband didn't do anything with the "limbs" until after the storm was over. The yard smelled very nice, but it was clearly a waste. Any ideas? Thank you, JB
You might be able to sell the fresh leaves but I doubt there would be much money in it. Perhaps
you could contact someone who sells herbs at your farmer's market or at a nearby farm stand to see if they have any interest.
Hi. I live in Ireland and I have 2 bay leaf trees that my Mum is babysitting for me. They are situated outside either side of a porch and are west facing but have been doing quite well until now. This weekend I noticed the new growth was tinged with black & it is quite widespread. We have had some fine weather followed by some wind and rain last week so the climate
has been a bit mixed. Any idea what the problem could be? Thanks for any advice. AF
The problem could be leaf blight, caused by a fungal disease. A second indicator will be if the leaves turn yellow as they grow. Keep an eye on the plants and if symptoms continue to develop check with a local expert about how best to address the problem.
Help please. I have a bay tree in my garden which is about forty years old. It was indoors in a pot for about four years and was then moved to the garden. It is a beautiful tree about twenty five feet high. This year several small outer branches of about two feet in length have died. The branches and the leaves are all brown. There are spots and small patches of a white powdery substance on many of the main branches. When these first appeared last year I thought it was droppings from the many birds (pigeons and collared doves mainly) which
regularly nest there. Can anyone please tell me what is the problem and how can I cure it? BB
This glorious tree sounds like far more than an herb plant! On first impulse I would say the powdery substance is powdery mildew, a fungal disease, but the problem must be identified for certain before beginning any type of treatment. Given the size of your tree and its age, I think you might want to consider consulting with a professional arborist.
I have a beautiful bay tree that I planted in my yard about 3 years ago when it was only about 6" high. It is now about 4' tall and very bushy and healthy looking. But today I noticed that some of the leaves are turning yellow in some areas, and one edge of these
leaves is tightly curled. I picked all of the curled leaves off, but I'm wondering if that is good enough or should I do more to protect my tree? SL
I think you have done the right thing by removing the affected growth, at least for now. The damage could have come from aphids, check the new growth carefully for the tiny sucking pests and if you see them, douse the infested areas with a strong stream of water every couple of days for awhile. Keep a close eye on the plant and continue giving it tender, loving care.
Hi I have recently been given a bay tree which was taken from a cutting. I recently looked at it and it looks like it has developed black spot, is this possible or is it just aphid attack. I live in the UK. CG
Black spot is a fungal disease that is difficult to control once it has begun. It is common to roses. Learn more about it by following this link. You can check for aphids by looking closely at the new growth--these tiny pests are white, green or reddish and can usually be knocked off the plant with a good strong stream of water.
Hello. I have a bay tree in a pot in my garden. It has a lovely long stem and it is trimmed into a gorgeous ball shape on top. Unfortunately, over the last few months, many of the leaves have small brown spots all over them. I use the leaves in cooking usually, so I have had to take only the leaves that look healthy and they are rapidly running out. Have you any idea what my problem may be? Many thanks. A
It's hard to say exactly what the problem might be without seeing
the damage but I wonder if maybe your plant was exposed to low temperatures over the winter. Check the plant carefully for some sort of pest, especially on the underside of the leaves. One suggestion might be to slowly remove the affected leaves, just a few at a time, to encourage new and healthy growth.
Hi, I have a bay tree with black soot on the underneath of the leaves. Can you help with what would get rid of it. I have tried washing the leaves which are getting less in number. Thanks, yours KW
Sooty mildew is a fungus that results from the "honeydew" left by pests like aphids, scale and mealybugs. Look closely at the plant to see if you can determine which pest. Aphids cluster on new growth. Scale forms little shield-like growths on the bark and mealy bugs are cottony. Bay laurel is susceptible to scale which is very hard to eradicate. University of California at Davis provides a good
online article about scale.
Sir, We have a bay tree (bush) how do we dry the leaves so we can use them in cooking. Yours, C&P
Please see below (near the bottom) for ways to dry your leaves.
I live in Montana and have a 10 year old Laurus nobilis
kept indoors all year. The tree is ~ 5' tall in a pot ~18" H and W. Will the tree continue to grow and be healthy in this size pot? CF
This is about the limit for a bay tree that size but it should be okay for another year or two. The best thing to do is keep an eye on it and if it begins to show signs of stress, transplant to a slightly larger pot or consider root trimming. The Bountiful Container book has good information on this subject.
Our Bay Leaf Tree is over 6 years old and just recently for the first time we have noticed that it has berries on it. Can these be eaten or used or discarded? Does this mean the tree is going to die? Many thanks. K in UK.
Your tree is fine. The berries are a natural occurrence that indicate
your tree is healthy, happy and well-established. The references I came across mentioned that the seeds have been used medicinally in the past and may be pressed for essential oils even today but I can't recommend eating or using them at home.
I always consider daphne and bay leaves are the same. Is that right? K
Thanks to the mythical Apollo and
Daphne, the bay laurel tree is sometimes called daphne, especially in Greece. Have you seen the article "All About Bay Leaves?"
Another reader responds: This answer doesn't say anything about Daphne Mezereum, which is quite a common plant in gardens, particularly in the American west coast area. It is actually a spurge, and is toxic. See this page, in the Etymology section: http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Laur_nob.html ...where it says: "In modern botanical terminology, Daphne denotes the genus of the toxic plant spurge laurel (Daphne mezereum, Thymelaeaceae/Thymeleanales/Dilleniidae)." Please update the answer to that question,
and consider mentioning the confusion on your page about Bay Laurel. At the very least, the spurge kind wouldn't taste right! Love your site, BTW.
Where can you purchase the bayleaf bush? Thank you. M
Bay laurel trees are common to nurseries and garden centers. You might call around to
your favorites and see if they have them in stock or might be able to order one for you.
I have two bay leaf trees in the porch and recently encountered a problem with little green caterpillars I have treated it and it seems to have gone. One of the trees is ok but the others leaves have all gone brown and dry. It has never been repotted and when lifted out of the pot they are clearly visible. Is it dead or can it be saved, the soil was very dry also so it has been watered. If I remove the leaves it will be bare and there is no sign of new leaves, is it a matter of repotting and hoping. What soil is best? HELP! CJ
If the roots that you can see on the plant are a healthy white, the plant should be able to recover. Move it to a pot that is only about 2 inches larger than the one it is in, use a good quality potting soil (one that is made for containers, available at garden centers or superstores), water it well but not too often and wait to see what happens. I think I would just leave the brown leaves as they are for now allowing them to fall off on their own.
Hello, I have a bay tree in a pot that I purchased about 5 years ago at a wonderful herb farm in Massachusetts. It was about 10" tall when I purchased it and now it stands almost 4' feet tall so I am very pleased and proud ! The first question I have is how to prune it. Although it has grown alot it seems to be rather scraggly and shapeless. I an also wondering if pruning it will help in it's growth. Too, although I have always kept the tree inside, I now live in the panhandle of Florida and am thinking of putting it outside for the summer. My concern is about pests, etc. I would really hate to put it in jeopardy. Thank You for your help.
tree sounds marvelous. You can prune it into shape, if you would like. Make your snips just above a spot where leaves are sprouting from the stem. Once you take off the uppermost leaves, those at the very tip top of the plant, it will stop growing taller and begin to get more bushy. I'm sure the plant would enjoy your climate. Scale is the biggest pest to watch for when you put it outside. This forms in hard patches on the bark. When I lived in Louisiana, I had an occasional problem with caterpillars who liked to roll up in the leaves. I read that you can just squish them and remove that leaf.
First I live in Nevada outside of Las Vegas . The nursery assured me that bay trees thrive in this climate. I have a new to me bay tree which is bushy. I just read on your site that over watering can be a problem. I was innocently over watering because the leaves have become very dry and brittle. The potted tree, as of today, is outside. It was in a south facing window. The window facing leaves are turning orange. My hope is that the tree is going to be okay. Thank you for your help. SD
Now that you have moved it outdoors, I suspect your bay tree's health will improve. Just make sure it doesn't get too much of the harsh afternoon sun as the seasons progress. The leaves can scorch. You should also check the plant carefully for any sort of insects that could be causing the leaf problems. Give your plant another month, watching it carefully and watering moderately. If it hasn't recovered by then I think I would call the nursery and request that they replace it.
I live in Mallorca. My bay tree is in a large container on my terrace (S.E. facing, but with afternoon shade). This summer the leaves have become blackened with some stickiness and there are woolly aphids on the trunk. I have sprayed with an anti-mildew preparation and the stickiness seems to be going, but what can I use for the aphids please. S
Aphids are certainly an annoying pest. The black stickiness is a by-product of them so if you get rid of the critters it will go
away too. The first plan of attack is to spray the aphids with a strong blast of water, basically spraying them away. I haven't had much luck with this method, honestly, so you might move on to a careful treatment of insecticidal soap. I say careful because this kills good bugs as well as the aphids. Another idea, for more advanced infestations is a neem product. You might ask for recommendations at your local garden center or nursery.
What can be used in place of bay leaf? I have to make liver sausage that calls for bay leaves. TKS
Bay leaf adds a rather subtle bitter taste that compliments other herbs. You could probably enhance your sausage with thyme, marjoram or savory rather than the bay. I
wonder, however, if you are hesitating to use bay because of the reputation for choking since you wouldn't be able to remove it before serving. If this is the case, you might look for ground bay leaves. They would still give you the advantage of the flavor without that hazard.
I have a large well established bay tree planted in the ground. It is losing quite a lot of leaves which turn yellow and drop. It is in well drained soil. Any ideas? AD
Yellowing leaves are often a sign of overwatering, a common mistake in caring for bay trees. If your tree is well established and you are getting regular rainfall, it will probably do fine without additional water.
Dear Bay Tree Advisor: Hoping you can help. I have two well established Bay standards in big containers that are about 5 foot high. They have been thriving well on the patio until recently when I noticed that there seems to be bite marks on the leaves and some of the leaves have started to shrivel up and turning an orangey colour! In short they don't look well at all.....can you help? KL
My first impulse is to suggest that the problem is some sort of rust, a disease
that will create rust-colored splotches on the leaves. I can't find any answers to why this infects a plant but sources do recommend removing and burning affected leaves to prevent spreading. Rust doesn't explain the bite marks, however, so I'm not quite sure. Inspect your plant closely to see if you might have small green webworms.
I have a bay leave tree (for six years) that almost died; I cut off all the dead foliage this spring and replanted in new soil and a larger container. Now the tree has ‘come back’, there is new foliage. It gets morning sun but during the afternoon the ‘very’ newest foliage starts to droop. Is this normal? Additionally, should you cut back the foliage at the top so that the tree will bush? Many Thanks, CB
The drooping may just be from the fact that the young leaves can't support themselves fully yet. I would keep an eye on it and see how they develop. Once you take the uppermost leaves, the plant won't grown any higher but it will bush out better.
Hi, I live in the UK and I have a pair of 6
year old bay trees in containers and around this time of year they get leaf curl. Not all over the plant but at the extremities of each branch. It's not that bad but will it get worse and is there a remedy? A.
I did a bit of research on this and it sounds as if you might have a fungal disease known as peach leaf curl. Common during a moist spring, it can be prevented by early applications of a copper-based fungicide. Unless your trees are losing an inordinate amount of leaves, it won't kill them and should go away as the season progresses. You might want to take a sample of the affected leaves to your local garden center and see if they can help you with a proper diagnosis and treat the problem, if necessary.
I was given a bay tree a few weeks ago. The leaves are turning brown. I have removed it to a spot where it only gets the morning sun. Should I remove all the brown leaves. Are they still usable? It is in a container and has never been repotted. Should I plant it in the ground? Is this an ok time of year to do that? Thanks....love your website. L
I'm not sure why your leaves might be turning brown but I would go ahead, remove them and not eat them. Make sure your tree is getting at least six hours of sunlight each day and don't overwater. You would
only want to plant it in the ground if you are sure that your temperatures won't fall below 25 degrees (F). This would be a good time of year to do it.
I just bought a
Bay tree and I'm going to pot it, the temp. during the late spring, all summer and early fall is as high as 156 degrees indirect sun and 120 in the shade. My question is how will my tree fare here in southern Nv. L
Hard to tell how it will do in that harsh climate. If it were my plant I would try to keep it in a place where it could soak up some of the morning sun but retreat to the shade for the rest of the day. Keep us posted!
Hello, I grew a bay leaf tree in my back yard ,but it stopped growing due to some disease. Just wondering if you could tell me the disease. Its covered with white specks. TB
Bay laurels are most susceptible to scale, sucking creatures that wind up leaving a small shell on the bark while also encouraging the growth of powdery mildew. Scale is nearly impossible to eradicate, especially in advanced cases.
Hi, I live in Fort Payne Ala. This is in the Northeast part of the state. Can I grow a bay leaf tree out side or would I
need to keep it potted? Do I need 2 plants for pollination? Thank you. WHALA
If your winter temperatures drop below 15-20 degrees (F) you will probably want to keep it in a pot so that you can move it around to protect from extremes. I haven't ever heard of a bay laurel flowering so pollination isn't really an issue.
Is it important to remove bay leaves from food before the food is served. If so, why? OS
Aside from being tough and unappetizing to chew on, bay leaves present a choking hazard if left whole in foods.
I have a potted Bay Leaf tree that is approximately 10 years old. I recently noticed that the leaves are turning brown. I can find no trace of any kind of insect, including scale on the plant. Can you give me an idea about what the problem could be? Joan G. in NJ
Sounds like a nice bay tree. If just a few of your leaves are turning brown, I'd say this is probably just a natural matter of replacing old leaves with new ones. It could also be that it is getting too much sun. Although they like plenty of light, The Herbfarm book mentions that they can burn in harsh sunlight. Maybe you should also check the drainage, they don't like standing in water but should never dry out completely either. Or it could be time to change the soil in the pot, some fresh soil mix might be just what it needs.
I was once told that bay leaves fresh from the tree were poisonous. Is this correct?
You just need to be sure that you are taking leaves from the Bay Laurel plant. Read more at "All About Bay Leaves."
I live in Florida and would like to know where I could purchase a Bay Tree. GM
Bay laurel trees are common to nurseries and garden centers in the south. You might call around to your favorites and see if they have them in stock or might be able to order one for you. You could also check on the links in the question below this one, especially if you live anywhere near North Fort Myers.
Are bay leaves bad for your heart? DN
Not that I'm aware of, but as I always say, this site is for culinary information and makes absolutely not health claims. I did do a search at the American Heart Association's webpage and they had many, many recipes calling for bay leaves as a seasoning. One danger with bay leaves are as a choking hazard and they should be removed from a dish before serving.
I have a laurel bush in my garden. If a recipe asks for bay leaf, is this what I use? H
Bay laurel, botanically known as Laurus nobilis, is the only member of the laurel family that is edible. If you are uncertain that this is what is in your garden, check with a local garden center or agricultural office before adding the leaves to your recipes. See a photograph of one bay laurel in our photo library.
Hi, I have just picked some bay leaves from a relatives garden but don't know how you dry them and if they need washed etc. Please can you give me some help!!
You don't really need to wash them, just sort of brush them off. The leaves will curl up if you let them dry naturally so you might prevent this by placing them under a weighted screen if possible. The curling really isn't a big deal unless they are very small. I do encourage you to use as many of them as you can in this fresh state. They are terrific!
I read your article about bay leaves with great interest. I was born and raised on Cape Hatteras, NC and we have lots of bay which we use extensively in bar-b-ques (Whole pork shoulders). My question is this? My father use to go in the woods and cut off White bay branches to be inserted into the meat. He said not to use red bay as it is bitter. I have been trying to find out the difference in the leaves but have been unable to do so. What do you think?
As I looked up bay laurel in my reference books for you, I noticed that the next entry was always bayberry. I think perhaps there in North Carolina you had both trees around. Bayberry is a fragrant shrub that grows in sandy soils around water. It is unrelated to bay laurel and not used for culinary purposes.
I have a bay tree, frequently use the leaves fresh, how would I dry/store them to share as Christmas gift? Love this site! Thanks for your help.
Try drying your bay leaves in thin layers on an old screen in a warm spot that's out of the direct sun. To keep the edges from curling, place a board atop them as a press. Allow to dry for about two weeks, then pack in airtight containers. Your friends are lucky to receive a gift like that!