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Bay leaves have a range of uses, most commonly dried and added to dishes for an aromatic flair. People can grow and dry their own at home or use the plants to add some deep green flair to their gardens. Regardless of how people intend to utilise them, they will require pruning.
When should you prune a bay tree?
Bay trees are evergreen shrubs that will keep gardens looking fresh year-round.
Gardeners can grow them in several ways, as they take well to containers and make hardy topiary specimens.
A wild or shrub planted bay tree can reach dizzying heights, surging past 7.5 metres (23 feet).
How and when people prune their bay trees will depend on the method used to raise them.
Bay trees are potentially fragile, especially so in topiary form.
While some may require hard pruning, experts recommend gardeners take care.
Any excessive pruning could leave the plant short of leaves for up to a year.
When to prune a topiary bay tree
Topiary bay trees are the most fragile and require trimming between late spring and midsummer.
The plants should stay at a maximum height of 135cm, trimmed back lightly, as they may take up to a year to grow leaves back after hard pruning.
People should use a pair of secateurs to extract dead or damaged leaves to a healthy bud, cutting in the direction they wish the bush to grow.
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When to prune a shrub bay tree
Hardier shrub bay trees can withstand hard pruning, but gardeners should cut them back sooner.
Experts recommend pruning this type of bay during dry weather in late spring.
They aren’t as susceptible to permanent damage but could take years to grow back to their previous form.
Bay tree health issues to look out for
Gardeners pruning bay trees will want to keep the plant healthy, and there are three health conditions to keep in mind.
Peeling bark: Bark may peel on lower main bay tree stems following harsh winters, with recovery generally apparent by midsummer.
Leaf spots: Bay trees may develop lead spots during wet weather, especially in a container. Repotting helps clear the condition.
Yellow leaves: Yellowing bay leaves may indicate age, but also nutrient deficiencies or waterlogged compost.
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