Bay Laurel, also known as Sweet Bay, Grecian Laurel, or simply Laurel, is an enduring evergreen native to the Mediterranean region. This noble tree graced the ancient Greek and Roman landscapes, symbolizing honour and accomplishment. In the garden, Bay Laurel enchants with its glossy, dark-green aromatic leaves, yellow-green flowers and black berries.
Bay Laurel can reach heights of 30-40 feet under ideal conditions, but in Canadian climates, it is best grown in containers so it can be moved indoors during colder months. While Bay Laurel prefers full sun and well-drained soil, it's adaptable, managing well in partially shaded locations and various climatic conditions.
Bay Laurel is not only a striking addition to any garden but also a favourite in the kitchen. Many renowned chefs use Bay Laurel leaves to infuse their dishes with a distinct flavour that elevates their culinary creations. The aromatic leaves can be used in soups, stews, roasts, and other dishes to infuse a savory flavour. Bay Laurel is also a key component of the French bouquet garni.
- Life Cycle: Evergreen tree, but suitable for growing in containers in Canada; needs to be moved indoors during the freezing months
- Canada Hardiness Zone: 8-9
- Days to Maturity: 300
- Planting Depth: 1-2 cm
- Plant Spacing: 1-2 m
- Growth Habit: 1-1.5 m tall
In terms of reaching maturity, where the tree will produce flowers and berries, it can take between 6-10 years when grown from seed. However, you can start harvesting leaves for culinary uses once the plant has established itself and is growing strongly, generally after about two years.
Remember, part of the joy of growing plants from seeds is the journey. The process of nurturing a Bay Laurel from a tiny seed to a flourishing, mature tree is a rewarding experience.
Bay leaf is an essential ingredient in many classic recipes. The savoury flavour it imparts is subtle yet cannot be mistaken or replaced. Starting Bay Laurel from seed will test your patience and plant propagation skills. But fear not, it’s bound to be a fun and educational experience!
First of all, bay seeds have a suboptimal germination rate. So it may be wise to start more seeds than you plan on growing. And they will need a period of cold stratification to replicate their native Mediterranean climate and seasonal change. Put some moist soilless medium into a plastic bag and then place the seeds in with it. Put the bag into the refrigerator and check regularly for moisture levels and sprouts.
After the seeds have germinated they can be planted into individual containers in a light seed starting mix. Keep the medium moist and make sure it drains well. Put the young seedlings in a bright, warm location and pamper them until they reach about 15 cm in height. At this point they’re ready to be moved outdoors and hardened off.
As for overwintering a bay tree, the easiest solution is to grow it in a container so you can bring it inside for the cold months. Keep it outside as long as possible but pull it in when a frost threatens. A greenhouse or a south facing window would be ideal places to set your bay tree during the winter months so it can still receive as much sun as possible.
Bay trees can withstand temperatures as low as -5 degrees, but no lower. If you live in a cold region and are unable to move it indoors some extra preparations must be made.
Planted in a sheltered spot against a heated exterior wall will help keep the tree surrounded by warm air. To add another layer of defense, cover the tree with a small plastic greenhouse you find at garden centers. The size of the container or planting hole of the tree is critical as well. The larger the better. If the area surrounding its roots is more spacious, it will take longer for the root ball to freeze.
Frost jackets protect trees from harsh winds and trap and hold warmth inside. It’s important to note that they also trap in humidity, so the jacket shouldn’t touch any part of the tree, just fit loosely draped over. It should also reach all the way to the ground to protect roots from freezing.
An application of moist compost to the base of the tree will act as a warming insulation. Otherwise, water sparingly and do not fertilize over the course of the winter.
- The ancient Greeks and Romans cherished Laurel for its symbolic value. Bay Laurel was associated with Apollo, the Greek god of light, healing, and prophecy. In Roman times, emperors, poets, and victorious athletes were crowned with wreaths of laurel leaves, symbolizing honour and accomplishment - hence the term "laureate".
- In the Middle Ages, Bay Laurel continued to play a significant role. It was thought to offer protection against lightning and witches, often planted near houses for this purpose. Its leaves have also been used medicinally, seen as a remedy for ailments like stomach aches and muscle pain.
- Bay Laurel seeds will remain viable for 2 years if stored in a cool, dark place, ideally between 4 and 10⁰C. After that, the germination rate may start to go down.
OUR SEED GUARANTEE
You know that a lush, fruitful garden needs good soil, frequent watering, and sunlight to grow, but it’s the seeds that really make the harvest.
Picked and bagged for 2023 the vast majority of our seeds have germination rates of over 85%. The seeds are all-natural, non-GMO, non-hybrid, untreated, and open-pollinated for seed saving.
We have put a lot of thoughts into the design and packaging of our seed packets. Our seeds are all carefully packed in food grade kraft paper/aluminium zipper lock bags, and then are shipped in eco-friendly padded mailers.
We heat-seal each of our seed packet for even more protection from moisture, odour and light, allowing you to store your seeds for up to 3x longer than paper or plastic. Plant them all, germinate some indoors, save some for next season - it’s up to you!