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Leaves on bay trees going brown

Martin GardenerMartin Gardener Posts: 63
edited March 2020 in Problem solving
I have a pair of bay trees for two years. Over this time alot of the leaves have gone brown, particularly more at bottom. Any suggestions of what could be wrong and how to get back to full green leaves would be greatly appreciated. 

Bay trees are in a ball shape. They've been in same pots and same soil since i bought. 

I live 40m from the coast so I'm very exposed with alot of winds.

I feed every week during summer months with plant food. 

Some photos below. I have them indoors right now as there is a storm.


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    Those pots are too small for bay balls of that size, which I think is the 'root' of the issue (sorry about the pun!)  I would recommend repotting them into pots of at least twice the diameter, using a John Innes #3 compost.
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Martin GardenerMartin Gardener Posts: 63
    edited March 2020
    Thanks for the quick reply! Am I ok to repot them now or should I wait for warmer months of say May\June?

    Is there a general guide of diameter of pot relative to diameter of the bay ball? (e.g. have them both same diameter, or have pot X % of diameter of bay ball) 

    Ah I see I actually created a thread when I bought these bay trees :) . My pots are 25cm diamater. The advice was to repot to a pot slightly wider in diamater or keep same diameter but hack off some of the roots.

    I don't want my bay trees to grow much bigger than they are now. I would be concerned putting them into a pot which is twice the diameter would cause them to grow a lot bigger. Plus I have already bought expensive wooden planters that are 35cm squared, and this is where they will live...when I eventually get around to it :smile:
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,055
    They’re living plants ... they will grow ... you keep the ‘ball’ the size you want by pruning ... not by starving the roots  :/ 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • JoeXJoeX Posts: 1,783
    Definitely bigger pots, as big as you can go. Imo.

    “40m from the coast so I'm very exposed with alot of winds.“

    I don’t think this will help, I’d be thinking of a sheltered location if possible.
  • Thanks. The current pot is 25cm diameter and 35cm squared is my new pot (my planter). Hopefully this will be big enough. 

    My original plan was to go slightly bigger than 25cm, plant in pot say 30cm, and put the pot into wooden planter. But if I should go as big as I can, then I think I'll plant directly into the wooden planter.

    I have some pond lining material, so I will put that inside the planter with some draining holes in the bottom, put some stones at the bottom, and then put in my bay tree and use some John Innes No3. Sounds good?

    Should I pull away some of the existing roots when I repot? Or just ruffle them up a bit, as they are clearly pot bound at the moment.
  • And is it ok to repot now or I should wait for warmer months?
  • FireFire Posts: 17,338
    A pot as big as the head of the bush would be best.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,055
    edited March 2020

    This is my bay grown from a cutting I took about 15 years ago. 
    The terra-cotta pot is about 21” in diameter by 18” in height. It has a layer of broken pots in the bottom ... the potting medium is a mix of 3 parts John Innes No 3 and 1 part coarse horticultural grit with a handful of Fish, Blood and Bone.  
    I repot it into the same pot every other spring replacing as much compost as possible and give the top a sprinkling of F,B&B. 
    In the summer it is given plenty of water but in the late autumn and winter it just gets whatever the heavens throw at it. You’ll see that the pot is raised onto feet so I can ensure that the compost is draining freely. They hate their feet being cold and wet (so do I 😉). 
    In the summer I spray the leaves weekly with a seaweed solution. 

    The terrace faces SE so it is in shade in the afternoons. 

    Please excuse the scruffy garden ... I hate gardening in the wet and there’s been a lot of it  🌧 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

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