when or where to buy bay in SE Virginia?

anybody know when Bay (as in the little mini-tree used for spice) is in season (no pun intended) in zone 6/7?
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Didn't you bother to do your own research on this?
The so-called bay leaf is actually laurel (Laurus nobilis), a Mediterranean shrub.
Do a Google search under the proper name.
Check it out.

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I don't remember if I did or not, but obviously I didn't find anything or I wouldn't ask.
Thanks for the tip.
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Salty Thumb wrote:

L. nobilis may not do too well in your area. Most sites give it as hardy to 8 (even 8b). I grow it in 8a, but we haven't had a deep freeze for a while.
I expect that if you find it in your garden centers, it would be from late spring through the summer.
If you have a sheltered spot, it's probably worth a try. It sure beats paying $5 for a tiny bottle of bay leaves (which often are the inferior California bay).
Mike Prager Beaufort, NC (on the coast in zone 8a) (Remove spam traps from email address to reply.)
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Thanks for the info. I was planning on growing it indoors (at least during the winter), in a movable container (despite warnings about herbs not doing too well indoors). Since it supposely is going to turn into a tree, that's probably an insane idea.
I'm still at the stage of not knowing what I am getting myself into, but yeah the prices are insane. I don't remember if it was bay or not but I remember seeing one item in the spice aisle at a regular grocery store for $14.
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My experience is that it grows very slowly. The first year I had it it put out about 4 new leaves, so it wasn't a good source of leaves for a year or two. It's now about 5 years old, 2 feet tall, and has plenty of leaves to spare.
I have been deliberately avoiding fertilizing, extra watering, and frequent repotting in an effort to keep it from growing too big.
It takes well to cutting the top leaves and branches out in a more bushy way.
I take it inside soon after the first frost, and I think it does well as a houseplant. It does get some scale, which I control by submerging the entire plant in water with a little dishwashing detergent, lightly rubbing off the bugs with a sponge, and then rinsing well. Usually one treatment a year is fine.
I think spraying with horticultural oil would do fine to control the scale too, but I assume you would want to wash the leaves before cooking to get rid of the oil, so it doesn't seem like there is any real savings in time.
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Salty Thumb wrote:

If you're in a warmer spot in 7 or can plant it in a sheltered spot, perhaps near a west-facing wall that will help keep it warm, it might be fine outside, at least until an unusually warm winter. I would expect that until it gets VERY cold all you'll see is tip or twig dieback, which will keep it smaller but still big enough for culinary and many ornamental purposes.
By the way, if you buy it mail-order, it will probably cost you at least $15 including freight and you will receive something small, possibly a single bare-root stem. If you can find it at a garden center, you will pay about the same for a robust specimen in a 3-gal container. The former would be OK for indoor use, but I'd rather have the big one for planting outdoors. It will have the rootmass to withstand occasional errors in care. Don't know about you, but I miss watering a new plant occasionally.

It is relatively slow growing. Even here in 8b, ours have grown to about 4' h x 2' w in 3-4 years, while Camellia sasanqua planted at the same size and time have grown to 6' h x 4' w. So yes, it can become a tree, but considerably south of you or e.g. around the Mediterranean. I saw 15' specimens used as shrub borders on a visit to France.
Also, if you keep it in a pot, it won't get that big! In the house, the dry warm air in the winter may bother it. You could try misting. That's a guess based on growing houseplants.
Good luck!
Mike Prager Beaufort, NC (on the coast in zone 8a) (Remove spam traps from email address to reply.)
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Mike Prager wrote:

Of course, I meant an unusually COLD winter.
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I live in 7a and have been very successful with a variety of bay that I've purchased at Colonial Williamsburg during their spring plant sale. They have it growing outside planted directly in the ground and it has been growing there for years. since you're relatively close, I'd give it a try! Cyndi
Mike Prager wrote:

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I don't, but it can be had mail-order as soon as hard freezes are over between you and the supplier. Quite a few mail-order nurseries sell it. I could look one up for you...but you might want to decide whether you really want one. Forestfarm in Oregon has it
www.forestfarm.com
and they run a reputable nursery, tho it is far from you.
It will probably need to be kept in a pot and brought indoors or better yet a cool greenhouse for the winter.
I am writing about Laurus nobilis. Although it is the original source of bay leaves used in cooking, one of its relations from the West Coast of the USA is the current commercial source of bay leaf sold in grocery stores. It is a MUCH larger, faster-growing, and much tougher tree, Umbellularia californica. I don't know if it would make it in a hard zone 6 winter but probably z7; in any case it is cold-hardier than its Grecian cousin. It is ultimately too big to keep in a pot tho I suppose it could be kept that way for some years.
It grows in full blazing sun or deep shade. It is not picky about soil. It is really an amazing tree. It's easier to grow than Laurus nobilis, and more prolific, which is why it's being used as a substitute. The leaves actually contain more bay oil than L. nobilis, so much so that it gives some people a headache. It also can be had mail-order; Forestfarm would usually have it
www.forestfarm.com
I have one, but in a much milder climate (z8b, Seattle). Mine is in deep, dry shade (which it tolerates quite well), and is only about 5 feet tall (ultimately it will hit about 75 feet tall), dwarfed by its poor site. Quite healthy, tho.
Regards,
Atar
Salty Thumb wrote:

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Thanks to everyone for the helpful responses. It turns out I have a friend that use to have a bay in Norfolk (more or less same climate), but it started getting some growths on the leaves and she freaked out and removed it. I don't know what scale looks like first hand and her description was vague ("something weird growing on the leaves").
Anyway, I'll try to get up to Williamsburg (didn't know there was an annual plant sale) or otherwise look around once the weather turns. By mail, shipping for a tube was like $9 transcontinental, which I guess isn't too bad if I can't get it elsewhere.
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