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Can this neglected potted bay be revived?

SplandySplandy Posts: 161
It's been in this pot for a very long time, not watered and left in a fairly shaded area but is still alive. Can I do anything to make it healthy and more attractive looking again?

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  • PlantmindedPlantminded Wirral (free draining sandy soil)Posts: 1,754
    Yes, it can be revived by repotting in a slightly larger pot, using a soil based compost like John Innes No 3 and relocating the pot to a sunny position.  Elevate your pot with pot feet or similar to ensure good drainage and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged while it recovers.  There's plenty of green there, so there's hope!
  • SplandySplandy Posts: 161
    That's great, thank you. Will leaves appear again on the lower portions of the branches or will it always have bare branches with leaves only on the ends now?
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Wirral (free draining sandy soil)Posts: 1,754
    If you lightly prune the ends of each branch, that will trigger buds to form from the leaf nodes below, producing a bushier plant.  Keep doing this as the plant grows and you will encourage the plant to produce a fuller shape - in a similar way as regularly trimming a hedge to make it thicker.
  • SplandySplandy Posts: 161
    Thank you, that's good to hear. Should it eventually look like a normal small tree? I'm not sure what to expect or aim for. I've seen lollipop style bay trees in pots before, but this hasn't been pruned in that way. Should it have the 'trunk' type bits at the bottom bare and then all of the higher branches covered in leaves? Or would it always look a bit bare in the middle?
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,707
    Bay will respond to hard pruning (a friend had a massive one that was cut down to the ground by frost and regrew perfectly well). I don't think that one will make a good lollipop though, unless one of the trunks is already straight and vertical and you can take out all the others.
    Make sure the rootball is damp all the way through before you repot it. The best way is to dunk the whole pot in a large bucket of water and hold it under the surface until the air bubbles stop rising, then let it drain for a while.
  • Joyce GoldenlilyJoyce Goldenlily Posts: 1,974
    Splandy said:
    It's been in this pot for a very long time, not watered and left in a fairly shaded area but is still alive. Can I do anything to make it healthy and more attractive looking again?
    I would stand it in a bucket of water for a few days to give it time to rehydrate, then pot on into a bigger pot. Trim off any dead growth.
  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 13,027
    I would prune it hard, it will respond well, but it does need repotting in a good soil based compost, with some added grit to ensure good drainage.
    There are ashtrays of emulsion,
    for the fag ends of the aristocracy.
  • SplandySplandy Posts: 161
    OK, when you say to prune hard where would you be pruning to? Is now an ok time of year to do this or should I rehydrate, pot on and then wait?
  • B3B3 South East LondonPosts: 24,080
    edited May 2022
    Mine, although a lot older than yours, was in a worse state  
    I repotted  and cut it back really,really  hard last year.  It could do with a bit more shaping but it's doing well. Its  recovery time was spent in light shade. I don't  know  if  that's  necessary but it  didn't  do it any harm 
    I did it this time last year.

    In London. Keen but lazy.
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