Bay Laurel Sold as Tropical?

nicoblue74(5IN)March 27, 2012

Hello, all! I was at a local nursery the other day and saw what looked like several small bay laurels being sold as a tropical houseplant in small pots. Is it possible that the expensive bay laurels could be marketed this way? I did a google image search and the bays look identical to what we saw. We are ready to go buy them out at $2.44 a pot. Anyone else seen this done?

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birdsnblooms

Howdy... Bay Laurel is making its rounds. It's sold as house plants at Home Depot, grocery stores and online nurseries. They're labeled as 'house plant', I've never seen a tag read 'tropical Plant.'

Bay Laurel is Bay Leaf, a seasoning for cooking.

Indoors BL needs lots of sun, and a cool room. If temps are hot it'd attract Spider Mites.

It'd could be summered outdoors. During winter, placed in the sunniest window, under artificial lights, 'bulbs that don't emit heat,' in a cool room.

To be honest, I doubt Bay Laurel would make a good house plant.
They're hardy from z9, I think..Outdoors, in the ground, Bay Laurel grows into large trees/bushes. In containers, it'd need pruning.
However, confined to a pot, it only grow so high.

Bay Laurel would probably make a nice Bonsai, but would require a lot of work.

It's only 2.44. Can't hurt to try, see how it does for you. One never knows.

Are you going to get one? Toni

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 7:35PM
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nicoblue74(5IN)

Hmmm. Thanks for the reply. It may have been just sold as a houseplant. When I inquired with the nursery expert they told me it was a coffee. However, there were coffee plants there and I know they were not coffee as we have those. Then we were told pepperomia, which I knew it wasn't. I believe they probably had just ordered a houseplant assortment from a supplier. Bay came to me as a possibility and in looking it up I thought it looked like it. Just was surprised to see it so cheap. They are usually so expensive. So you have seen this before at Home Depot? That makes me think we are on the right track. Considering getting a few to put outdoors this summer. Would be something to get several plants for less than $3 when I saw one small one potted up today for $15. :-) I so wish things were labeled....but then again, if the nursery knew what it was, would it be so inexpensive? Hehe.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 10:20PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Rub a leaf between your thumb and forefinger (without damaging the plant) and see if you detect the aroma of a bay leaf. No smell....no bay laurel.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 4:43AM
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rina_

The leaves are also stiffer than lots of other plants.
The price seems very reasonable to me, I did see just one stem in 3.5" pot for $8.99, was approx. 7-8" tall; for sale in "Herbs" section.
Here is photo of one I am growing (in gritty mix); and you do get the bay leaf aroma if you rub as mentioned. The leaves have slightly wavy edge.

Rina

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 12:27PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Bay is a lot hardier than people think. It grows into large trees where I live and withstands our winters with no trouble at all. Although they are not usually very cold the bays around here withstood a highly unusual - 10 c (14f) last winter. But they do not like prolonged freezes. They are definitely not tropical and will not be hurt by a bit of frost. They are extremely amenable to being trimmed and pot grown. I would buy one at that price and keep it outside until there are one or two freezes then bring it in, preferably to a light unheated room. Then I'd get it back outdoors at the earliest possible moment in the spring.

Here is a link that might be useful: My next door neighbour's baytree

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 3:01PM
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birdsnblooms

Nicoblue..The employees at your nursery are Bozos, lol.
Coffee, Peperomia!!

Yep, HD, our grocery store, 'Jewel's, and sellers on Ebay are selling Bay's as house plants.
Back in the 90's, our grocery store sold small 4" herbs, in Produce Dept. Rosemary, Thyme, and Bay.

Nowadays, they sell Bay in ornate pots, some are shaped, and placed among house plants..Shaped are expensive...same w/shaped Rosemary around Christmas..they're pruned to look like Christmas Trees, decorated w/tiny ornaments.

If you receive plant catalogs in the mail from nurseries such as Direct Gardening, Gurney's, etc, they too sell Bay as a house plant.

Flora, your neighbors' tree is amazing..It IS huge! If they use Bay Leaf for cooking, they'll save a lot of money. McCormick = 7.99 for a small bottle. About 15 leaves. Toni

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 3:47PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

The hilarious thing is, hopefulauthor, that the last lot who moved in before the current ones, went out and bought a little baytree in a fancy pot. They had no idea what the tree at the end of their garden was!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 2:00PM
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birdsnblooms

Flora, I bet they were surprised. Do the previous owners ever stop by? Do they know their little 4" plant is now humongous? Toni

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 5:08PM
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usha_srinivasan(z5/6 SE MI)

I had one and kept it reasonably healthy indoors for a couple of years. Finally killed it when I gave it a "special" spot by a window in our guest room and then forgot to water it for weeks :(

Fresh bay leaves taste great, I use them to make tomato bisque and mushroom soup.

Usha

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 10:34AM
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birdsnblooms

Usha, do leaves dry naturally? Know what I mean?

I sometimes add to spaghetti sauce.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 12:01PM
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rina_

The bay laurel (Laurus nobilis, of the plant family Lauraceae), also known as sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree, or simply laurel, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is the source of the bay leaf used in cooking.

The plant is the source of several popular spices used in a wide variety of recipes, particularly among Mediterranean cuisines. Most commonly, the aromatic leaves are used, fresh or dried. For cooking purposes, whole bay leaves have a long shelf life of about one year, under normal temperature and humidity. Bay leaves are used almost exclusively as flavour agents during the food preparation stage; even when cooked, whole bay leaves can be sharp and abrasive enough to damage internal organs, so they are typically removed from dishes before serving, unless used as a simple garnish.
Ground bay leaves, however, can be ingested safely and are often used in soups and stocks, as well as being a common addition to a Bloody Mary. Dried laurel berries and pressed leaf oil can both be used as robust spices, and even the wood can be burnt for strong smoke flavouring.

And from 'About.com-Gardening':
Although bay is a very attractive shrub or small tree, it is grown as a seasoning. The dark green leaves are very fragrant, especially when dried. Dried leaves are broken or crumbled into cooking foods and allowed to permeate the dish.
Bay can be grown simply as an ornamental. It has attractive foliage and can easily be pruned and sheared into topiary shapes. The leaves are often used to make wreaths and garlands. Since bay is a very slow grower, itâÂÂs ideal for container growing.
Bay has also been a traditional medicinal plant, with uses as varied as earaches, rheumatism and insect repellent. CAUTION: some people find bay to be a skin irritant.
It's very important that you only grow plants labeled Laurus nobilis, if you plan to use it for cooking and eating. There are other plants that go by the common names of bay and sweet bay and these are not necessarily edible.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 12:23PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Hopeful - I don't know who put in the bay tree originally. It was that height twenty years ago and has been cut almost to the ground since then and regrown. It might even have been a self sown seedling. In WWII a couple of bombs landed just about where it is and lots of trees grew up on the site afterwards. It could have been there since then. Bay trees live quite a while, especially if periodically cut back to stumps. There are plenty of Victorian ones in our local parks and they seed around.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 12:59PM
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subtropix

Can they be espaliered and pruned to keep under control? I have a few bushes planted along the western/hot side of the house, interspaced with English Box. Will the roots damage the house if I keep them espaliered?

As a sidenote, I frequently read that Bays are so slow growing, but I think this is because people who grow them in containers do not appreciate the fact that what to be trees--unlike basil or parsley!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 12:08PM
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usha_srinivasan(z5/6 SE MI)

Hi Toni,

I dont dry the bay leaves from my plant,I use them fresh.
They have better flavor than the dry ones IMO.

OTOH, I have dried the leaves of my curry plant (Murraya koenegii) by placing the the leaves in a single layer in a
microwave on top of a paper towel and nuking for a minute or so. You have to watch carefully otherwise they shrivel up and dont have any flavor.
The dry curry leaves are decent but not as good as the fresh ones.

Regards
Usha

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 10:03AM
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birdsnblooms

Flora, Aww, that's a horse of a different color. :)

Usha. Fresh is always better than dry or frozen. For seasonings, veggies and fruit.

Don't remind me of M koenegii. My little Murraya, potted in a 3" container, was doing well.
Since most days have been super-sunny, I didn't think to check this little plant. Well, the west light dried the soil to the point every last leaf dropped.
I don't know if they'll regrow, but that little 4" tall plant is probably history..I feel so bad. Toni

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 3:53PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

njoasis - you can do pretty much what you like to an in ground bay tree. They are prime topiary subjects. Spirals, cones, balls on sticks, plaited stems - you name it. Think of them as box with bigger leaves. No idea about the roots - I'm not a civil engineer and I don't know how your house is constructed, but the are often grown near walls here to get a bit more warmth.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bay

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 11:06AM
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birdsnblooms

Flora, were the Bay Tree pics taken in UK? It's so lovely there. If there was one country I'd pick to live, it'd be UK. Beautiful. Toni

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 11:35AM
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