Tuesday 19 January 2016

Starting some new Bay trees

When we moved into this property of ours, in 1991, we brought a potted Bay tree from our previous house, and I planted it in one of the borders. It has grown into a huge bush / tree, and we use leaves from it very frequently in our cooking - particularly for flavouring stock and casseroles. Soon after we moved here I took some cuttings from this tree and I have grown them into a pair of standard-trained ornamental trees, clipped into a rough "lollipop" shape.

The two standards will not last for ever though, and since Bay trees grow very slowly I decided in 2013 to start another pair, so I took two more cuttings. Unfortunately only one of them "took". Here it is in June 2014.

By October 2015 it looked like this:

And you can see it again here in a photo taken just a few days ago.

Just recently I noticed that the big "Granddaddy" Bay tree had put up a few basal suckers. These are the best material for taking cuttings, so I thought I would demonstrate here the procedure I use for this.

Here are the suckers coming up out of the soil at the base of the mature tree:

There were 3 of them, but I decided I would only cut 2.

They both had a very pronounced curve.

I cut off a couple of inches of the base to straighten them, but not too much, because the part of the cutting that was underground is the bit most likely to root. Then I dipped each cutting in some Hormone Rooting Powder, which will (allegedly) help it to produce roots.

Then I stuck each one in a pot of moist garden soil to which I had added a about 10% gravel, which will assist with drainage.

These pots are now sitting on a potting-bench in the garage, near the window, where it is warmer than being outside (by a long way!), but still relatively cool. There is now nothing much else I can do apart from wait and see whether they "take". It will be several weeks before I know, but if/when I see some new leaves forming at their tips I will know that I have been successful. And in about 10 years time I may have two more standard Bay trees!

P.S. Thanks to everyone who offered advice about the care of Fig and Olive trees. Much appreciated!


  1. A prize goes to you for patience :-) we used to have a bay tree but we found it was always becoming infested with scale insect do you ever have this problem on yours?

    1. The big parent tree dis have some scale insects once, but it's never been much of a problem. On the other hand all my trees are constantly attacked by "Bay sucker" insects - https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/Profile?pid=505 The damage they cause is very unsightly.

  2. It was lovely to read of your bay tree adventures, there is a wonderfully large one in the ground of one of the front gardens in the lane I live. It must have been there for years as I remember it as a child.

  3. I had a very small bay tree many years ago, not much bigger than those cuttings, but it didn't do very well and eventually succumbed. I've learned a lot since then so I will likely give it another try at some point.

  4. I was going to ask you how long/old those were but missed it in the beginning of the post. We have a small, though growing, bay tree that just grows so slowly. I thought it it was something I was doing wrong but now I realize "patience" is the key, ha. And perhaps a bigger pot! :-)

    BEAUTIFUL trees! Thanks for the tutorial, I swear, I always learn something new when I come here. Thanks!!


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