How to Grow Bay Leaves – A Beginner’s Guide

bay leaves plant growing in garden
Bay leaves, which are known botanically as Laurus nobilis, are a type of tree that can easily be grown at home. Continue reading to learn the basics of growing bay leaves as well as common mistakes to avoid along the way.

Best Time to Plant Bay Leaves

This will depend largely on your local climate, but as a rule of thumb, begin to plant the bay leaf seeds outdoors in spring or early summer, or in a container anytime. This is the best time to ensure that the seedlings survive the weather.

To check when bay leaves are most likely to thrive in your area, see the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. If you live outside the US, do a quick search for ‘plant hardiness zone + [city]’.

How to Plant Bay Leaves the Right Way

There are a number of things to consider that will help you avoid some of the common mistakes of growing bay leaves in your home garden.

Often overlooked, your soil can have a huge impact on how well your bay leaves grow. Generally, your soil should be well-drained and fertile, with added organic matter. Soil PH levels should be around 6.0 to 7.5.

1/4″ deep, 2-3 seeds per pot, thin to 1 seedling per pot. 2-3′ apart for multiple plants. The seeds should be sowed at a depth of about 12-24″. For each plant, be sure to sow at least a few seeds to ensure that at least one of them will germinate.

Begin thinning your bay leaf seedlings n/a

How Much Sunlight is Needed to Grow Bay Leaves

The amount of sunlight is another key to a successful harvest. Too much sunlight will dry out your bay leaves. Not enough sunlight will stunt your its growth or even kill it.

Ideally, your bay leaves should be getting full sun to partial shade

How Much to Water Bay Leaves

As you’ve figured by now, a lot can have an impact on how well your bay leaves do, and the amount of water is no different.

Ideally, the soil should be damp to touch; not soggy or bone dry. If the leaves on your bay leaves begin to change colors or start to look droopy, you need to adjust how much water you’re giving it.

Unfortunately, if you give it too much or too little water, you can kill it, so it’s best to just keep an eye on it and water as needed.

How Long Does it Take Bay Leaves to Germinate and Grow?

Now the fun part begins and you get to watch your bay leaves grow.

It takes approximately n/a to germinate, and a total of n/a (harvest leaves as needed) from seed to harvest.

When to Harvest Bay Leaves

The best time to harvest your bay leaves is when leaves are large enough to use, mature leaves have a stronger flavor.

Bay leaves can grow up to about 10-60′ tall, depending on location and container size.

What Can Bay Leaves Be Used For?

Food Use: great for seasoning soups, stews, and sauces.

Flavor Profile: warm, earthy, and slightly bitter.

Can Bay Leaves Grow in Pots and Containers?

Yes, you can plant 1 plant per 18-24″ container. This can help control weeds and keep your plant from growing out of control.

It also gives you the flexibility to move your bay leaves around if you need to adjust sunlight or bring it indoors to avoid harsh weather conditions.

Are Bay Leaves Safe for Bees?

Yes, bay leaves are safe for bees.

According to, bees pollinate human food crops that make up about 90% of the world’s nutrition.

Given their importance in our ecosystem and food supply, I feel it is important to note that growing bay leaves is bee-friendly.

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