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Bay Tree beginner

4 weeks ago I bought a young bay tree and have it potted by the front door. I’ve followed the various online advice as closely as possible but admit to being a total newbie in the world of gardening so need some more specific advice please.

I’ve started to notice small holes in the leaves; I know from online research there are a couple of likely causes but there are no signs at all of any sort of insect, fungus or anything else for that matter.

I’ve pruned the effected leaves as instructed so the image won’t show a great deal but this evening I also noticed what looks like signs of eaten leaves as shown in the picture.

is there anything else I should be doing/thinking about to try and give this young bay tree the best chance of survival in the hands of a novice gardener? Thank you in advance 


  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,442
    You always get a bit of nibbling. I wouldn't worry unless the tree appears to be suffering and, personally, I wouldn't cut bits off while it's  so young.

    It's hard to tell from the picture but I wonder if your pot is big enough and what compost are you growing it in?

    Bays hate strong, cold wind and cannot take prolonged frost or freezing. They like a bit of shade and a bit of sun and plenty of water when it's hot. Otherwise, they are very easy to please and no trouble at all. I feed mine about once every 2-3 weeks in Spring and summer.
  • ef1990ef1990 Posts: 4
    Hi Posy, thanks for your reply. Some good points and useful info. I think I was just concerned that I’d only had the tree for a month and already noticing signs, I’ll keep an eye on it and just make sure the trees looked after properly.

    I definitely need to re-pot you’re right; I was told not to do that until the temperature dropped though just in case it shocked the tree so I’m hanging on until the end of the month. It’s fed and watered so should still be ok for a while

    The tree is by our front door so has full sun in the morning and then shade in later afternoon/evening so I’m hopeful that I’m doing most things right but time will tell! 

    Can I ask what you feed your tree with? I was told by our local garden centre to use an ericaceous feed but read online it’s not necessary at all; never quite know what’s the most reliable source of info!! Thank you 
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,442
    I just use a general feed - what's on offer at the garden centre, and mine are happy with it. You don't need ericaceous feed. There's a long and complex science of feeding plants which is beyond me but others will know....
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,566
    I give mine either blood fish and bone or general Growmore in the spring and water it well in, then through the spring and summer it gets a foliar feed with diluted seaweed solution around once a month (when I remember) or if it’s looking in need of a boost. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • ef1990ef1990 Posts: 4
    Thanks everyone! Really useful info.

    it’s amazing how advice can differ, the guy at the garden centre was so confident telling me what I should and shouldn’t be using. That’s why I wanted to try a forum to get advice
    from those that have been there and done it.

    much appreciated 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,566
    edited 4 August
    My bay is in a large unglazed pot with a good drainage hole and is raised up on pot feet to ensure that it drains well ... unglazed pots are best for mediterranean plants like bay because they 'breathe' and allow air into the compost, and they are also less inclined to get waterlogged ... mediterranean plants need plenty of water but they need it to drain through quickly ...   I find that a mix of 3 parts John Innes No 3 loam based growing medium, with the addition of 1 part horticultural grit … I repot every couple of years replacing as much compost with fresh of a similar mix as I can without damaging the roots. 

    From March to the end of September I water thoroughly at least twice a week ... this weather I've been watering with at least 10 litres of water every other day.

    I've just worked out that my tree is around 22 years old ... I grew it from a cutting I took in 2001/2 ish.  Wow ... doesn't time fly!? 

    I took that photo earlier in the year when the grass was green ...  :/

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • ef1990ef1990 Posts: 4
    Wow, bay tree envy! That looks fantastic. 

    Really grateful for your advice. I’ll be referring back to it when I re-pot. Just need the weather to cool a little and then it’ll be all systems go

    There’s good drainage in the current pot but I know the soil could do with a refresh and a few more nutrients so I’ll take your advice on the soil types. 

    Have you found you’ve had any issues with your chosen pot and the frost? I’d been told to be mindful of that when choosing a pot. Mine is next to an external wall of the house which I understand can help but wondered if you’ve done anything else to protect during winter?
  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 1,289
    If your plant is close to the door and house wall, rotate the pot occasionally to give the whole plant exposure to sun and better air circulation - mine didn't get enough sun near my door so it's now in the ground and much happier!  (That's a lovely plant @Dovefromabove!)
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,566
    Thanks folks ... I'm quite fond of it myself 😍 

    In the winter I make sure the pot is up on it's pot feet ... it's very heavy to move so we leave it where it is on the terrace only a few feet from the back of the house ... in a sort of southeast facing garden and quite sheltered as the garden is lower than next door and there's a few large trees around. 

    We do wrap the pot in several layers of bubblewrap before the frosts arrive ... and we don't water after September so by the time the frosts come the compost is fairly dry-ish.

    The pot we have was advertised as 'frost resistent' but not frost proof ... it wasn't as expensive as some ... we decided that we'd rather get a large but affordable pot and replace it from time to time if need be.  So far both the pot and the tree have coped with the worst of the weather Norfolk can throw at it ... even the Beast from the East ... so we just carry on as before and keep our fingers crossed 🤞
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

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