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Bay tree

AltaficaAltafica Posts: 1

I have a Bay tree in a pot, it has been there about 7 yrs and is not happy. The pot is about 700cm across and the plant is 175 high. Because of the shape of the pot which is bowl shaped it is difficult to remove, I have scraped back what is left of the soil, and the roots a entwined and fill the pot.

My question is, when is the best time to move it, either into larger pot or open ground, and would it kill the plant to cut the roots to get it out the pot?


  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 20,451

    Autumn is a good time to move it, so anytime now. I'm sure you can trim the roots but not sure how severely. It would need a good rootball. Is your pot deep enough? 70cm is quite wide. Has it got waterlogged or been allowed to dry out?

    I've found a site which has a lot of info about bay trees.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • Hi Altafica - [what does that mean?]

    If you value the bay, I'd suggest a pair of safety glasses or goggles and a lump hammer should do the trick - that way you maximise the root ball and have the option of repotting into something even larger or, preferably, giving the plant its freedom and a chance to show its true worth in a key spot in your garden!

    Hope you've plenty of room in your garden, 'cos a bay can easily grow to 10-12 feet and 5-6 feet spread in 5 years...

    *I've three very vigourous 20+ year old bays in my mid-terrace garden, but by dint of  hard pruning they've become quite respectable "lollipops" about 2 metres by 1.5 metres wide. [As a culinary item, the prunings are readily distributed to neighbouring housewives and work colleagues].

    **Take few cuttings to root on for yourself & you should have some material to go into a different pot in a year or so?


  • It probably has just exhausted all the food in the pot. Unless - as DM2 indicates - you have the space/ desire for a large bay tree in your garden, I'd repot it, and now is the ideal time. Take some cuttings now as insurance and get it out of the pot. If you haven't hacked too much of the roots off in the process, trim them and prune the plant (with less roots it will not be able to feed itself at its current size) reducing the growth back by at least a third, then put it in a larger pot - one which will be easier to empty in future - and pot up with soil based compost with some slow release fertiliser. Hopefully it will recover. I have a very small bay tree in a pot because I value it as a herb but don't need any more trees and the pot restricts its growth. I just have to remember to keep it watered and refresh the compost every now and again.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,270

    How deep is the pot?  My lollipop bay which is about the same height as yours is in a pot which is about 45cm in diameter and roughly the same in height - I potted it on from a slightly smaller pot last spring.  However, this is the biggest pot I will use - when it next needs repotting in order to provide some fresh compost I will loosen the compost from around the edges and bottom of the rootball to free up the roots and trim them back a couple of inches before repotting in JI No 3 loam-based compost.  What can happen with a potted bay is that the roots totally fill the pot and any watering fails to penetrate the root-ball so it is important to pot on every few years.

    Unless you have loads of room I wouldn't plant a bay laurel in open ground - they are trees with noble ambitions and can reach 50ft plus in height unless thwarted. 

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

  • My bay tree is a tree, not a tortured lollipop. It is 20 feet tall and is 6ft round the base. I want to know how the root ball grows, down outwards or as a mittor of the tree? Any ideas?

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,270

    The roots of bay trees tend to be fairly near the surface, and the diameter of the root circle can be up to the same as the height of the tree, depending on the soil and any buildings and other constrictions. 


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

  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,875

    Mine is more of a multi-stemmed bush than a tree. The roots and their suckers are ever spreading. Nice thing, good windbreak.

    Might be tortured now, it's just had a very severe hair cut

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