I bought a bay laurel seedling this past spring that was about six inches tall and set it out in a pot in the herb garden because I heard you may have to bring it indoors in the winter. It’s now about a foot tall. Could it survive outdoors? How do you harvest and use the leaves?
Place the plant where it gets as much sun as you can give it, in a south or west-facing window, if possible, and don’t let it get too dry (keep the soil evenly moist but not overly wet, the experts at the Herb Society of America suggest). It may also appreciate occasional misting if the air in your house is very dry. Take it back outdoors when the weather is consistently above freezing in the spring.
Bay leaves can be used dried or fresh; they’re usually added to long-cooking soups and stews. Snip them from the plant and use them as needed, or dry them to save for later. Use them whole (crumbled leaves have very sharp edges, which could be an unpleasant surprise to diners), and be sure to remove them before you serve. A bay leaf is a key ingredient in a bouquet garni (tied in a bundle along with thyme, parsley and other herbs), which would be added to a dish while it’s cooking and removed before serving.
By the way, there have been reports of bay laurel surviving the winter in colder climates, provided it is in a protected area. But to be on the safe side, find a sunny spot for it indoors.
Garden events in Middle Tennessee
Sept. 18: Perennial Plant Society’s monthly meeting at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall begins with refreshments at 6:30 p.m., meeting at 7 p.m. Speaker is Terry White.
Sept. 22 & 23: Many rare and unusual houseplants will be available at the Tennessee Gesneriad Society’s annual Flower Show and plant sale, which will be held at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall. The event is open to the public 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Sunday. To learn more contact Julie Mavity-Hudson at Julie.email@example.com.
Sept. 27: Middle Tennessee Hosta Society meets at 6:30 p.m. at Cheekwood. Speaker is Susan Webb of Hurricane Valley Ornamentals in Gurley, Ala. Topic is “Growing Miniature Hostas in Hypertufa Containers.”
Sept. 29: Herb Society of Nashville’s Herb Day at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall: “Cooking & Gardening with Native Plants.” 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; admission is $40 plus Cheekwood gate fee. To register: www.herbsocietynashville.org.
October 6: The Nashville Rose Society and Chattanooga Tri-State Rose Society host the annual Tenarky District Fall Convention and Rose Show Oct. 5 – 7. Events open to the public on Oct. 6 include Rose Garden Tours, 9 – 11 a.m.; a rose show, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; and a public seminar: Basics of Growing Roses,” 2:30 p.m. Learn more here.
Oct. 16: Perennial Plant Society’s monthly meeting at Cheekwood’s Botanic Hall begins with refreshments and plant swap at 6:30 p.m.; program at 7 p.m. Speaker is landscaper Tina Ramsey on the topic, “Winter Gardening.” Open to the public.