How to plant laurel

Laurus nobilis

The laurel or laurel is a shrub or tree that usually reaches less than 10 m in height, but which can reach 18 m in height. It is native to the Mediterranean region, but it was more common in the remote past than in the current era, being considered a relic of the laurel forest, a type of humid subtropical forest that covered the Mediterranean region until a few million years ago, and which can still be found , for example, in the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands.

Bay leaves are used as seasoning, crushed or whole. When used whole, they are usually removed from the food before consumption, as they have a leathery consistency (similar to leather) even after cooking.

This species is dioecious, that is, it has plants that normally produce only male flowers and plants that produce only female flowers. The fruits, which are berries, when ripe are bright and dark purple, almost black. When dried, the fruits can be ground or grated and used as a spice.


The ideal is a mild climate, without extremes of temperature. It can withstand low temperatures if protected from wind and frost.


Preferably grow in direct sunlight, but can grow well in partial shade, as long as the light is good.


Ideally, the soil should be well drained, fertile, rich in organic matter, with a pH between 6.6 and 7.5, but this plant is quite tolerant when it comes to the soil, as long as it is well drained.


Irrigate in order to keep the soil slightly moist. Excessive water can damage the roots.


Laurel can be propagated by seeds or cuttings. Seeds can take a long time to germinate (months) and seedlings from seeds take a long time to grow, so the preferred method is usually to plant pieces of semi-woody branches, 10 to 25 cm long. The soil must be kept well moist until rooting.

The spacing between the plants varies with the size of the parent plants, ranging from 4 to 6 m between shrub-sized plants to 7 m or more for arboreal plants.

The laurel can be grown in large pots, and is recommended for those who have little space, because the plant has limited growth and remains smaller, up to two meters in height. However, it is necessary to fertilize frequently. It is also necessary to remove the plant, cut up to one third of the roots and replant with new soil every 2 to 5 years (depends on the size of the pot or container and the growth of the plant).


It is necessary to remove invasive herbs that are competing for resources and nutrients, especially when cultivation is carried out in pots.


When the plant is well developed, the leaves can be harvested when necessary. In late summer or early autumn, a portion of the leaves can be harvested and left to dry the shade. Dried leaves have a stronger flavor, but they fade over time.

Berries can also be picked and left to dry in the shade. It is necessary that there are male and female plants in the region for female plants to produce fruit. Furthermore, the laurel often does not flower in regions with a climate different from the climate of its native region.

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