Laurel is a very popular plant both for the pleasant aroma it gives off and for the usual use of bay leaves as a condiment in Mediterranean cuisine. It is a shrub with a great capacity for adaptation, which can fulfill all kinds of functions, both in large gardens and in interior spaces, and it all depends on how it is grown.
If you want to learn how the laurel plant is cared for, keep reading us in this EcologíaVerde article where you will see a complete guide to laurel care.
Characteristics of the laurel plant
The laurel tree is actually a bush which can grow up to about 15 meters, although the potted laurel can also be grown without problems. This plant, which came from the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor through the Romans, has the 3 species of the genus Laurus, of the Lauraceae family, which come from the Azores, the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean basin.
The most common is the laurus nobilis, that of the Mediterranean area, which is commonly known as laurel, lauro, loreto or laurel of Apollo. It has leathery leaves of striking dark green, oval and very aromatic. Its flowers are yellow and very small, without ornamental value, and appear in spring.
Its cultivation is usual for its nice scentfor its value as a spice and, furthermore, for its ability to form very dense hedges, which even allow the creation of topiary art and partitions outdoors, as windbreaks or to limit visibility.
Location and climate for laurel
As a plant of temperate origin that it is, it prefers climates such as the Mediterranean, without extreme temperatures rising or, especially, falling. Frosts have the ability to cause significant damage to the plant and snow tends to accumulate, breaking its branches due to excess weight, since it does not lose its leaves in winter.
If the climate is dry, it is best to find a location in the shade or semi-shade, while in humid or colder climates it will prefer direct exposure to the sun, with all possible hours of incidence. Indoors, it will be necessary to find spaces that are as sunny as possible, and control its growth with adequate pruning.
Land or substrate for the laurel
The laurel is not demanding with its soil, being the only important point that it offers a drainage as best as possible, since flooding is very harmful. Check the drainage of the soil in your garden by watering and checking where the water pools and where it does not. If you don’t have any suitable area, you can always pot it up or dig about half a meter, as its roots aren’t invasive, and fill in yourself with a light, well-draining mix.
It is also not too demanding with the pH of the soil, but there are those who say that slightly alkaline soils are more beneficial.
This plant, when planted in the ground, hardly needs watering, resisting even in dry summer months without problems. You will need to water it more often if it is located at a high altitude or in shallow soil. Logically and like all plants, if you grow your potted laurel will need more frequent wateringbut remember to always put it in a pot with drainage holes and remove the excess water from the plate after watering.
If you have doubts about the amount to water, it is better to err on the side than too much as you learn to observe your laurel and see if it lacks water or not.
As it is not a demanding shrub in terms of nutrients, it will suffice with pay it in the warm months during the first years of its life, with organic fertilizer or rich in nitrogen. Later, it will suffice to add some worm humus, compost, manure or chicken manure to the foot of the plant in early spring.
Once it has reached its desired size, you can stop fertilizing it so that it does not spread any further and simply stays put.
Regarding pruning, this resistant plant can be pruned at any time of the year where there is no risk of very high or very low temperatures soon. There is a lot of writing about how to prune it specifically according to the way you want to give it, since it is an art, but here we will tell you that, if you want to form a hedge with them, plant them about 50 cm apart from each other and prune them sides of the branches that extend too far to the sides, to keep the most even and somewhat rounded shape of the garden hedges.
Laurel pests and diseases
It is not usual for this plant to be threatened by pests or diseases, since if it is in good condition it will not normally be an easy target.
However, it may happen that, due to different circumstances, it ends up being attacked by the cochineal and the bold fungus which normally comes with this. In these cases, it is best to treat the plague quickly, with ecological remedies and extending the treatment until complete eradication. In this other post you can learn about one of the types of mealybugs that usually attack plants: Eliminate the cottony mealybug: treatment and home remedies.
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