Bay Tree Propagation – Tips For Rooting Bay Tree Cuttings

Potted Bay Tree
bay cuttings
(Image credit: igor_kell)

One mature bay tree will keep even the most dedicated cook in pungent bay leaves for a lifetime. If you need more though, it is not difficult to start growing a bay tree from cuttings. For more information on propagating cuttings from a bay tree, including tips on rooting bay tree cuttings, read on.

Bay Tree Propagation

Bay tree, also called bay laurel or California laurel, can grow to 75 feet (22 m.) tall. The branches are laden with fragrant, shiny leaves that are used in cooking. These trees thrive in USDA plant hardiness zones 7 through 10. 

If you already have a bay tree in your backyard, you know that your climate is appropriate for bay trees and can proceed with bay tree propagation. 

If you are hoping to start propagating cuttings from a bay tree in a different location, you’ll want to check the climate first. These are evergreen trees and grow fairly slowly.

Growing a Bay Tree from Cuttings

If you are wondering how to propagate bay cuttings, be assured that it is not difficult if you take the cuttings at the appropriate time. Rooting bay tree cuttings can take a while but you don’t need to have a lot of equipment. 

The first step in bay tree propagation is to take the cuttings. You should do this in summer when the wood is green and pliable. Take three or more cuttings at least 6 inches (15 cm.) long. You want the cutting to be firm, but the wood should be easy to bend. 

The next step in how to propagate bay cuttings is to strip off all leaves from each cutting except the top two or three. Then plunge the cut end of each cutting in a bucket of water. 

Fill a small flowerpot with coarse sand and water thoroughly. Dip the cut stems into rooting hormone, then stick them into the sand. To keep the cuttings moist, cover the pot with a clear plastic bag and close up the top with a rubber band.

Add a second rubber band below the lip of the flowerpot. Place the pot on a heating mat where it gets indirect sunlight and wait. You will likely succeed in rooting bay tree cuttings in a month or two. If you feel resistance when you tug, the cutting probably is rooting.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.