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What has happened to my bay tree

Hi folks- can anyone help please with my bay tree. I pruned back the small shoots at the base two months ago and the top leaves have turned brown. This was a very healthy plant and new shoots have started growing again at the base. I have a twin plant that received the exact same treatment and it has stayed green. Any advice much appreciated. Thanks. Craig


  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,564
    Hi, Craig. I am sorry to say that I believe your bay has not been watered enough. The container is fairly small and if the compost became very dry it might not have absorbed the water you did give it. The water runs out at the bottom and you think all is well, but in fact, the compost isn't getting a soaking at all. 
    I don't think the tree will recover BUT I wouldn't give up yet. Can you stand the pot in water for a few hours to get it well soaked? Then just wait and see.
    It's a mystery why one plant thrives and another fails but there may be more or less sun or wind or water that makes all the difference to the plant. The little green shoots show the roots are alive and well but they will grow up into a bushy shape, not a lollypop.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    I'd agree with what @Posy says. Up against the house wall is also much drier. It's why  it can be useful for overwintering plants in very wet areas. 
    If you have a saucer or tray of some kind, that will help re the watering. Anything sitting in it will gradually get absorbed. You may need to do it a couple of times to ensure it's thoroughly dampened the whole pot and it's contents.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 498
    It looks very dead.  If it's twin survived, look for differences in aspect or teatment.  This one looks like it is in two pots.  Was it waterlogged?  That would kill the plant, roots first.  Some of the suckers might have their own roots that survived longer.
    So it might be over-watering, not under-.
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 20,906
    If it were mine I would cut it down to about 6” from the pot then put it in ground where it can grow naturally.   As you already know, it’s shooting from the base,  it will look lovely in the ground. 
    All those leaves will drop off soon and may never grow back as it was. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 7,049
    I would wait until spring before giving up on the top part, but it doesn't look very promising :(. If it doesn't show any sign of new shoots/leaves in the top part by about May, then I would do what @Lyn said.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    Whereabouts are you - roughly @craigggrantw_xjc_Io?
    They aren't great up here for example, because the weather annihilates them, especially if very exposed.  :)  
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Thanks for all the help folks. I reporters both trees into half whisky barrels after giving the roots a good soak. Will see what happens in May time and take it from there. Fairygirl - we’re in Perthshire and have been told bay trees should be fine. Nonetheless I’ve given them a sheltered spot
    All the best. Craig

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,289
    I did wonder @craigggrantw_xjc_Io :)
    Perthshire should generally be quite a bit better, climate wise, for it [unless you're at exposed altitude]  so fingers crossed it'll come away. 
    Keep it sheltered, and just keep an eye out for long poor spells of weather. It's that usual mix of keeping it well enough watered, and having enough warmth and protection in winter.  I hope it'll  thrive for you   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

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