HELP! I want to save this bay tree seedling.

Baby G (Z10, 300?CH, SoCal-LA)(10)April 14, 2014

Yesterday my friend dug up two tiny bay tree seedlings and brought them to me planted in 5 gallon buckets. I want to plant them near my house for the smell, and dwarf them.

This morning my one year old ripped one out of the bucket whole. OUCH!!!

I dipped it in water and rooting what?
Peat moss and fluffly dirt? Back in to it's native soil? Straight in to the ground at my house?

The seedlings came with their native soil -- one more clay than the other. My soil has less clay than both.

Please advise. I really want to save these little bay trees.

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famartin(z5 NE NV)

First advice: Find a way to protect your trees from your 1 year old ;)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 3:52PM
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Oh my- I feel for you- I'm not good with bay at all. I planted some seeds and they never sprouted- twice now! Anyway, try the Herb Forum. Someone there would definitely help you. Good luck

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 4:00PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

plant them in mother earth NOW ... see link .. no amendments.. no fert.. nothing ... but PROPER WATERING ALL SUMMER ...

i would never dip a rooted tree in rooting hormone.. but if it has no roots ... its probably a goner ... i doubt it will root ...

then push in a giant stake.. so you know where it is at all times.. so you dont step on it ...

and finally ... research how big this thing will be in ten or 20 years.. and plant it appropriately far.. from the house ...

see if you can get a few more... there are other methods... to experiment with ... if you want to insure success ... let us know if you get more ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 5:42PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Is this Laurus nobilis? If so just plant it, firm it in, water it thoroughly and leave it in peace. They transplant very easily.

As Ken says, if it is Laurus nobilis, it is a tree and will grow tall. Maybe it's different in a hotter climate, but here they have no smell when growing, only when the leaves are crushed.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 9:53AM
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Baby G (Z10, 300?CH, SoCal-LA)(10)

I acted before I saw Ken's great advice.

Since I was afraid of "Death by One Year Old", I put it in a VERY TALL container with drainage. Unfortunately I mixed in some compost, bark fines and peat with the native soil. I did pack it down and I mulched it...not thinking about disease at the trunk. That was silly because I know you aren't supposed to put mulch near the truck for citrus trees. I'm going to dig out the mulch and hope for the best.

The seedling had a very long tap root, but the long hairy root fibers came off of it when my son pulled it out -- that's why I put rooting hormone on it. The container is 10-12" diameter and probably 20" tall. It's clay.

My hope was to dwarf/prune it the way you can with cypress trees. The seedlings are each about 3" above the soil and 8" below the soil.

This post was edited by babyg on Fri, Apr 18, 14 at 15:02

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:36PM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

Since this is CA this might well be Umbellaria californica, a tree not at all suited to captivity, which is why the OP referred to dwarfing it. If it has a chance it will have to be watered this summer, which is not what a native CA plant expects (much better to do this stuff in fall when the rains come during cool weather). Give it a shot, see what happens!


    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:22PM
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Baby G (Z10, 300?CH, SoCal-LA)(10)

I don't know how to tell whether it's California Bay Laurel, (Umbellularia californica) or Sweet Bay Laurel, (Laurus nobilis.) They came from the mountains of Topanga Canyon, inland from Malibu CA, so they could be either.

For that matter, what if it's another laurel entirely?

"If you search in PlantFiles for bay or laurel you will find a host of plants with bay or laurel in the name, most of which are poisonous. For instance, the Common Laurel, also called English Laurel or Cherry Laurel, has twenty varieties listed, which are beautifully ornamental and resemble our L. nobilis but cannot be eaten. Then there's Poet's Laurel, Danae racemosa, or a small evergreen bush, and Laurel clock-vine, Thunbergia laurifolia, a tropical vine; the mountain laurels, Kalmia latifolia, attractive temperate zone shrubs, again with elipitical, leathery, evergreen leaves, and again poisonous if ingested.

"California bay, Umbellularia californica, is very much like Laurus nobilis, so much so that Spice Islands brand sells U. californica leaves as "California bay leaves" in my New England supermarket. (The two trees are unrelated, however.) It bears the same familiar aromatic leaves and grows into full trees in the same, Mediterranean-type climate (i.e., California and southern Oregon). Penzey's compares the two in flavor, saying L. nobilis has "a natural depth of flavor that the California bay leaves can't hope to match."

This is from an article on Bay Laurels at Dave's Garden, written by Carrie Lamont.

Does anyone know how to tell them apart? I would very much like to avoid being poisoned.

This post was edited by babyg on Fri, Apr 18, 14 at 15:01

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 2:24PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Well, I'm pretty sure it's not Laurus nobilis.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 3:44PM
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Baby G (Z10, 300?CH, SoCal-LA)(10)


Here is another angle. I keep looking at "california bay seedling" and "laurus nobilis seedling" photos on the Internet, and I can not tell the difference.

It does have a very pungent bay leaf smell when I crush one of the half-dried leaves up. My friend identifies them as "bay leaf trees" and his wife's family has used them to cook for decades, so I'm inclined to think it's not one of the poisonous kind. Still, I'd like to know what it is exactly.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 4:44PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Both bay trees are used for cooking.
In fact, both are sold for that purpose.
But they have differences in fragrance and flavor.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 12:41AM
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Sara Malone Zone 9b

This is Umbellularia.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 12:11AM
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