Forum home Plants

What is wrong with my bay tree?

Does anyone have an idea what is wrong with this potted bay tree?

The leaves, mainly around the bottom are brown, with the unique pattern spreading out towards the tip which is really brown and crispy.

Research says too much water/too little water could be an issue, too much sun/too much shade... I don't know what's true!

It is potted, and was potted with high quality compost. There was a small bit of plant food added when it was potted on top. I used to water myself in the summer but during the cold months have been concerned about overwatering so have generally let the rain do it. There is a membrane on top of the soil, lined with pebbles to stop the soil drying out in the summer. With the amount of rain we're getting it seems to be getting enough water and if anything I am concerned I would be overwatering it. 

Does anyone know what the issue is likely to be?


  • B3B3 Posts: 26,987
    Are you sure that the rain is getting into the pot?
    In London. Keen but lazy.
  • floraliesfloralies Posts: 2,586
    Have you taken the pebbles out and lifted the membrane to see what the soil is like underneath? Too wet/dry? 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    Is the water able to drain easily? If it's on a hard surface, it's best to raise the pot up on feet of some kind.
    Compost alone won't be great if it's in the pot long term too. A mix of a soil based medium and grit would be best. It looks like a very mature specimen, so it's important to refresh the soil too each year or so.
    Wind can cause crisping foliage, as can animal urine. Could either of those be a possibility?
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • BijdezeeBijdezee Posts: 1,484
    Good suggestions above. If it were me I would tip it out of the pot and check the moisture and look for any root rot or pests etc. Being Mediterranean they seem to prefer some protection  from cold winds etc and really don't like wet feet. 
  • Thanks for suggestions everyone!

    - Yes rain is getting into the pot. The soil is quite damp. It seems about right at the top.

    - Good suggestion to life the plant out of the pot to check for root rot. If it is too damp at the bottom that could be it. Adding drainage at the bottom would be good if it is very soggy down at the bottom. 

    - Wind was mentioned. I think this might be it. It is behind a glass balcony, gets lots of sun and water, but the storms at the moment are really really cold. The cold air could be crisping the leaves.

    We are moving house in around a month and I will put it in a more sheltered place anyhow in the back garden, but also check the bottom of the pot for root rot and add some stones or gravel for drainage. I don't want to do this at the moment as it is on a first floor balcony and it should be able to last a few more weeks until I move to a place with a bigger garden to sort. 

    Thanks very much everyone. 
Sign In or Register to comment.