Mediterranean bay tree is right at home in a
I have a Mediterranean bay laurel, now about ten years
old and five feet tall. Each summer I put the plant outside. I
water it when it seems dry but never fertilize it because I cannot
find information about the type of fertilizer to use. I would
appreciate any information about how to better tend this lovely and
Bay (Laurus nobilis) needs plenty of light and water
while it's growing. In winter it's fine in a cool place shy of
freezing with just enough watering to keep it from drying out. Its
nutrient requirements are basic and can be provided by any
balanced, water-soluble powder with micronutrients such as
Sixteen beautiful bay trees in huge pots grace Cranbrook House
and Garden terraces, from April through October. I called Lou
Borsheim, recently retired from tending the Cranbrook landscape,
for a report on the care he gave those bays.
"I gave them liquid fertilizer when I brought them out each
spring, and maybe once more during the growing season. At the end
of the season, I was careful not to push them. Then I'd put slow
release fertilizer in the pots as I put them on hold in the garage
over winter. Milorganite, for instance."
Those bays flourished in their same pots for all of Borsheim's
35 year career. They were lifted out and root pruned only once.
Borsheim occasionally used a thin metal rod to loosen and aerate
around their roots. Other than that, they prospered on water and
Mountain Laurel report.
"Sunshinebob" read here about growing Kalmia and other
acid-loving plants. Then he made this report:
"We have grown 'Elf' mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia
'Elf') for almost four years. Expect a couple of years to pass
before blooms (are produced) on smaller plants. They will need
decent sun and some protection in the winter from desiccation if
winds can reach them. Ours are against a wall facing south in front
of some Princess hollies. Our soil is not particularly acidic, with
a lot of clay. We enhance (the soil) occasionally but these plants
have been subject to some benign neglect. Even so, they do pretty
well. However, be aware they are highly prized by rabbits -- the
Thanks Bob! You exemplify what I love about gardeners, a
willingness to share specific, practical experience with others. We
can learn so much from the details of others' efforts, both
successes and failures.
Some problems have no solution. I can't provide much help to
those who pose a "stumper" such as:
I keep a tag from everything we plant, to record species and
variety in case we ever have questions or need additional plants.
So why is it that when someone asks which variety of witchhazel it
is that's in full bloom in our yard on February 16, that particular
tag is missing from the tag collection?
Green thumbs up
to working to promote better planting and more native species in
both private and public spaces.
Green thumbs down
to damning all landscape companies after one bad experience.
Originally published 2/26/05