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Bay tree help!


We bought 2 bay trees which we had at our wedding (so they are sentimental!) and we’ve had them outside the front of our house for a year, neither have grown as they once did when they were in the back but one is fine and one is looking pretty dead! I have tried a seaweed fertiliser, and doesn’t seem to of done much (only used a week ago though) I am desperate and just need some advise! 

Attached photos to help and possibly identify the issue. They’ve had plenty of water, and they should now be getting plenty of sun as I’ve moved them to try and ensure at least those 2 needs are definitely ticked. When I put a nick in the stem, it’s green... 

Thank you! 


  • Is there any possibility that the poorly one could have suffered from lack of water at any point?  Or over-watering?  Are the drainage holes at the bottom of the container clear?  The damage looks just like the effects of drought or over-watering, the effects of which both look very similar.  If the container isn't draining well, that would be the most likely culprit and you may see cracked bark on the trunk if that's the case.
    If you're sure the container isn't waterlogged then all you can really do is cross your fingers and hope it springs back into life, but no more watering until the top inch is completely dry.  I would remove all dead and diseased-looking leaves at this point;  Fewer leaves, the less stress on the roots until it recovers. 🤞
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thank you, that’s great. I guess overwatering is a possible and I haven’t managed to look int the planter yet for drainage issues - thats on my to do list. I will have a look at that. It’s getting water now from when it rains due to its position, is that ok? I can put it under cover to control it? 
  • Moving it under some cover might be a good idea if that is possible, as long as it stays outside or is put somewhere with plenty of light but unheated.  As you say, it would help you to control the watering, especially while we are getting these deluges!
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Absolutely and it would still get light. I think I’ll investigate the compost / planter and then go with it. So frustrating! I hope it’s ok 😫
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,699
    Agree with what BobTheGardener has said so far. What type of soil are you growing these shrubs in? From the photo, it looks very light and fluffy. They prefer a loam-based compost like John Innes No 3 with added grit to aid drainage. How often do you water them?

    The shrub is near death right now, so near that most of the leaves are unlikely to revive. If it survives, you will need to severely remove a lot of dried out leaves. Or wait for signs of new leaf growth, and then prune out the dead and diseased leaves.

    From what you mention previously, they may have been placed in a shady area. When in containers, they need more attention to keep going. Consistent watering, which is a very deep watering once a week or twice a week in warmer weather. Not just 1 litre of water. A lot more than that.

    Green is a good sign, but with evergreen shrubs, there is sometimes a delay. Branches that snap or feel brittle will have died back. Those that still bend may still be alive.
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