Bay Growing Guide

Laurus nobilis


Crop Rotation Group



Fertile, well drained soil, or high quality organic potting soil.


Full sun to partial afternoon shade.

Frost tolerant

Bay is a half-hardy shrub or small tree that can tolerate winter temperatures no lower than 20F (-7C). In cold climates, bay is best grown in a container that can be kept indoors in winter.


Fertilize bay grown in containers with an organic water soluble fertilizer every three weeks from spring to late summer. Feeding is not generally needed for plants grown outdoors as herb garden specimen plants or hedges.


Use an attractively potted bay plant as a movable accent in your summer herb garden. In mild winter climates, use bay as a landscape shrub or small tree.


Single Plants: 1' 5" (45cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 1' 5" (45cm) with 1' 11" (60cm) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Start with a purchased plant, because bay stem cuttings are very difficult to root. Spring and early summer are the best times to adopt a new bay plant. Outdoors, allow 6 feet (2 meters) between plants being grown as a hedge. When grown in containers, gradually shift plants to a container at least 12" (30 cm) in diameter. A mature plant, grown in a sunken container, will occupy a space 18" (45 cm) square.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


When growing bay as a potted plant, allow the soil to become dry as fall approaches. Through winter, allow the soil to dry between waterings. Dried bay used in bouquets supposedly brings good luck.


Stem or leaves as desired from early summer to fall. In midsummer, gather perfect small branches and dry them in small bunches. Stored dried leaves in airtight containers.


Repot containers every other spring, gradually moving to slightly larger pots. Outdoors, prune as needed if plants outgrow their space.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Bay