I use quite a lot of bay leaves in my cooking, so I wanted to buy a bay tree to save myself some money in the long-term, as dried bay leaves can be quite expensive and I preferred the idea of being able to pick fresh bay leaves straight from the garden.
I ordered a bay tree from Suttons.co.uk as they had them on special offer. They’re normally £21.95 but they’re selling them less than half price at £10 with any purchase. So I bought some Green Manure mix seeds for £2.99, to plant in my raised bed over the winter as it will provide nutrients for the soil.
The website says that bay trees are easy to grow and fully hardy and they can be pruned to keep it small or fashioned into an imposing specimen bush or pyramid.
I placed my order on the 15th March and the tree only arrived this morning. It was packaged in a large brown paper bag. The soil was very dry but the plant looked very healthy.
The website also said the plant would be 40-60cm tall. I measured mine and it’s 46cm so I’m happy. It looks like they’re are some buds growing and I’m not sure if these will grow into flowers and whether or not I should let it flower or not – some research is in order!
The instructions that came with the bay tree said:
“Grow in a sunny position that is sheltered from cold drying winds which can damage the foliage. In colder areas where temperatures can fall below -5°C, over winter in a greenhouse or conservatory. In Spring pot on into a large container using John Innes number 3 potting compost, eventually a 38-45cm (15-18”) tub will be required. Once or twice during the Summer months trim the plant to shape. Keep well watered during the Summer and apply a balanced liquid fertiliser weekly.”
It came in a 1.5 litre plastic pot which was slightly cracked and the roots were clearly visible on top of the soil, so I decided to re-pot it. The pot it came in was 14cm in diameter, so I decided to use an 18cm one as I read somewhere that you shouldn’t increase the pot size by too much.
Before I re-potted it, I left it soaking in some water before I went out (to the Kingston Food Festival which was a complete waste of time as there were hardly any food stalls to see!) and when I came back the roots looked like they’d had a good drink. The roots looked healthy and not too pot bound, but hopefully they’ll be happy in the bigger pot. I ignored the instructions and just used the multi-purpose compost I already had (Westland), firmed down the soil around the plant and watered well.