Bay Laurel Leaves - Drying Up
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: J Grossman
Posted on: March 02, 2007

From reading a previous question about bay leaf problems, I think I have the same problem...although I cannot be sure. I have had the bay tree indoors in a pot, in a quite sheltered area, and recently have moved it near a window in a place where it gets some indirect light this time of year (we live in northern Michigan, USA). The lower leaves are drying up and falling off. Progressively going up the tree, most of the leaves have a dry brown color (almost looks like dirt), which is not raised or circular but spreads progressively across the leaves, starting at the outer edge and moving toward the stem. There is still some new leaf growth at the top, as well as some small new leaves on the bottom, so I know it’s alive. Perhaps we are watering the tree too often - once a week. Is it fairly certain to be an infectious problem (eg mold or mites)? We have toddlers in the house, and I’d like to be sure before I treat it with pyrethrum, etc. Is there a way I can send you a photo? We do have a digital camera and I could e-mail it to you.

This sounds as if the plant has received some shock to its roots. It does not sound like an infestation of any sort. Re-water whenever the top of the soil starts to get dry. If you use Pro-Mix as your potting medium, then when the surface colour changes from black to brown, it is time to water. I would recommend re-potting into this medium, because it teaches you when to water - and the plant needs new soil periodically anyway.

Put the plant in the brightest spot you have, since Michigan winters are very low light. It might be getting rid of its leaves, because the light is too low. The new leaves would be thinner to take advantage of whatever light they can get.

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