al3tte
Full Member
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 4:34 pm
Location: PA/NJ 5b

Zone 5b Bay Laurel Container Growing Advice

Hi there! :)

I just ordered 2 Bay Laurels from Hirt's Garden in Ohio, they'll be here within a couple of days. I've been looking for bays for years with no luck and couldn't pass these up - I'm so excited :-()

Anyway, before they get here I want to get pots ready and stuff for them to have the best chance. I'll have to overwinter them indoors as it gets below -5 and windy here in the winter so it seems this thread belongs here more than in the Herb Gardening forum - but feel free to move it if necessary.

First question: I know they need good drainage, so should I use 50/50 regular potting mix and cactus mix, or all cactus mix?

Secondly: How big should I pot them? I know they grow slowly, they're coming in "quart" pots, and I've been scouring the internet but there's very little advice on where to start. I was thinking either 8 or 12 inches - these are the pots I like - I have a few already, they are nice and sturdy so they won't tip easily and they seem to drain very well. I've read in several places that bay laurels don't mind being a little bit root bound (but many of Hirt's reviewers said they started seeing growth when they potted up) but when should I be worried about overpotting? In addition to which, nice pots can be expensive and I don't want to end up with a bunch from potting up that I don't even use.

And lastly: Google has already informed me of common pests and diseases to watch for like scale and suckers, but is there anything else I should know about potting or care?

Any advice you guys can give would be much appreciated, you've all been so kind and helpful so far!

Thanks in advance :mrgreen:

imafan26
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Posts: 11273
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Zone 5b Bay Laurel Container Growing Advice

Bay leaves grow slow. If they are under one foot you can put them in a 1 gallon pot. I use potting mix 50/50 peat lite. After they flush and grow over 2 ft I move them up to a 2-3 gallon pot, they can stay in that for a long time. If you are keeping them in the shade or indoors they will grow even slower. Outside in full sun they grow much faster and have to be potted up more often. I usually wait until I see the roots coming out of the bottom of the pot. I have waited too long on one of my bay leaves in the sun. It is in a 2 gallon pot and it is over 4 ft tall and it has rooted in the ground. I am going to have to try to get it out of the ground or just use it for cuttings and then kill it. It is not in a good place. Just goes to show that it has been awhile since I cleaned out that part of the yard. Feed it with slow release fertilzer like osmocote. If your temperature is under 80 degrees it should last 3-6 months. In warmer climates it releases faster so you have to use half as much but more often. 180 day osmocote will only last 3 months. 100 day osmocote will only last about a month in summer.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

al3tte
Full Member
Posts: 24
Joined: Mon May 22, 2017 4:34 pm
Location: PA/NJ 5b

Re: Zone 5b Bay Laurel Container Growing Advice

Thank you, imafan!

I don't plan to go too far over 5 gallons (12"ish) as I want to keep them relatively small. I have been seeking advice on whether I should start in that size without fear of overwatering. But I can't find anything conclusive so I think I'll start in the 8" (1 gal - I did the math on the particular pot and it's about 1.5 actually) and even if I have to repot to the 5 gal next Spring I'll be okay with that. They are actually shipping with Nature Blue, courtesy of the nursery, so I'll probably use that at least to start with as I assume that's what they've been fed with up to this point. Unless you think it would be better to use osmocote?

Do you think it would be a good idea to keep them inside for a couple weeks after repotting them or should I also just put them out for the summer as long as it's warm?

And should I feed right away (mix in with the potting medium) or wait a little bit for it to acclimate to it's new environment? (Shock of travel, repotting, etc)

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