How to Prune a Bay Tree

The Bay tree, Laurus nobilis, is a very large tree than can grow to an ultimate height between 8-12 metres, but thankfully for the home gardener bay is also a slow-growing tree. It can take longer than the average human-lifespan to reach such a size.

Bay is very amenable to pruning and is often used as topiary. Most notably the classic Bay Standard or Lollipop tree; a round ball of foliage upon a straight trunk. With regular pruning you can keep a Bay tree in the same pot for years. It is easy to prune a bay tree when you use topiary shears.

Growing a Bay Bush

Laurus nobilis / Bay Bush : 9cm Pot : 10cm High (exc pot) on

Remove the top growth.

Removing top growth will encourage a shorter bushier plant. This is the strategy you should follow if you want a nice thick bush.

By removing side growth you will encourage a taller thinner plant.

Growing a Bay Tree Standard

Laurus nobilis / Bay Standard : 3L Pot : 55-60cm High (exc pot) on

A lollipop tree can be crafted from a young seedling by removing the suckers and any leaves or side branches along the stem until the leader reaches the height you would like the Bay tree to be. At that point cut the stem. Several new branches will grow which in turn can be cut to produce more branches. A strong bushy head is formed by pinching out the growing tips on all side shoots regularly until the desired shape is formed.

Give the bay plenty of nutrients, sunlight, heat, and water, as it is important to get the plant to reach the desired height as fast as possible. Use a cane to keep the stem straight. A nicely proportioned and healthy standard will have a trunk twice as high as the head.

Top Tip: Pull the suckers off carefully and they should come with a bit of root. These can work well as cuttings!