Laurus Nobilis (Sweet Bay) – Grow Your Own Bay Leaves

Laurus Nobilis is a tree that produces fragrant leaves that you can use in cooking. It’s commonly known as Sweet Bay or Bay Laurel and the leaves as Bay Leaves. And the great news is you can grow it indoors in a container!


Your container should be at least 30cm (12 inches) in diameter, so reasonably large. As I always recommend, the container must have drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to drain. You probably want to get a slightly heavier pot to make it more stable and place a saucer underneath to collect any excess water.


Laurus Nobilis - Bay Leaves

Keep the soil moist and no more. Dependening on the time of the year and weather, this will mean watering about once per week, give or take. Water when the soil feels dry.


Use a good quality, general purpose potting soil. Place pebbles at the bottom of the pot to aid water flow to the drainage hole.


The sweet bay tree likes full sunlight. Place it near a window that gets a full day’s worth of sunlight. So ideally south-facing if you’re in the northern hemisphere or north-facing in the southern hemisphere. A conservatory or balcony is another well-suited space to put this tree.


You should prune your bay laurel tree annually during autumn or winter. Cut away damaged branches or ones that are growing such that they are inconvenient or unsightly.


Fertilise monthly during spring and summer using a general-purpose plant food.

Harvesting Bay Leaves

Bay leaves add a lovely flavour to soups and stews. Simply cut off a couple of leaves and add to your dish. To dry bay leaves, place them between two pieces of kitchen towel in a cool, dry room. Add them to your dish during cooking and remove them before serving.