Bay Leaf Tree Drying Up
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Shirley Uyesugi
Posted on: January 22, 2002

Please advise on the care of a bayleaf plant.

This is it’s third year and the plant is now about 18" high with four "branches". During the summer it is left potted in a southfacing garden. In the winter I have it placed in a southfacing window. It is watered with the addition of a very weak solution of water soluble fish emulsion on a weekly basis.

This year the leaves appear to be very dry and are curling upwards and easily break off the plant.

Can you advise whether this normal or whether I need to adjust my routine. Also I wish to train this plant into a topiary - what shape would you advise?

The plant appears to have been dry for too long at some point in the not too distant past. Since the leaves are very leathery it takes time before damage is noticed. If the stems are still alive -and they are harder to kill than the leaves- it will sprout new leaves when its next growth period starts.

As for turning it into a topiary it is a matter of nipping off the highest buds to stop them from producing an inhibitor that prevents lower buds from breaking dormancy. However do not attempt his until the plant is in great health again. For details, go to our website at Please go to the "Q&A" section and search for "topiary". Past articles on this subject will come up.

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