Bay laurel cuttings

pricem11(z7 NC)July 29, 2008

Hi there! Have any of you had luck getting cuttings of bay laurel to strike? I know they're pretty difficult, and I just haven't had any luck. I posted a question on the propagation forum a year or so ago, but the advise I received there didn't work out either.

The reason why I'm so keen on making cuttings is because I have a large pot of L. nobilis 'angustifolia', or narrow-leaf bay. It's smell and culinary use is identical to regular bay, but it is supposedly significantly more winter hardy. I received this one as a small start from Heronswood just before the Park takeover---it's no longer available. In fact, it's not available anywhere in the U.S. via mailorder that I can find.

Adele has tried a cutting at BB, and I plan to take a dozen or so more down next June when the plant has more size. Maybe the more controlled greenhouse setting will work. Am just wondering if anyone has had success and if you know any tricks/secrets to getting roots on these suckers--pun intended. This is not a proprietary plant (just a natural cultivar of the normal bay), and in parts of Europe it's fairly common, just not much in cultivation here. I'd love to get several established outside in my Z7b garden in Pittsboro, and I'd love to be able to share one day.



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Hi Mark, I was just doing some research and Dave's Garden says to take hardwood heel cuttings of the willow leaf bay. So that would be a side shoot with some of the old bark attached. Also read that its best to do this one in winter or very early spring when the plant is still dormant. We had no success at all with the willow bay but I assume you were doing tip cuttings which is what John has tried in the past without success. Adele

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 11:14AM
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pricem11(z7 NC)

Hi Adele! Yeah, I have tried 3-6 inch tip cuttings on new growth that had hardened/begun to lignify in May/June with no success. I've read it can take 180 days, which of course, at the end would be Nov/Dec---jeopardy!

The heel idea sounds promising. Maybe some of the established cambium will give them the urge to live. The timing sounds good too. I just repotted, so I should have lots of hardened growth by late winter. I'll try a dozen, and I'll bring you guys a dozen. Fingers crossed!


    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 2:24PM
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Mark, let's see if this will be of any help to you. Yes, try heel cuttings. When in doubt as to how to root a plant I always do it both ways; heel cuttings and tip cuttings.

As John can vouch, from time to time I post the following rooting method. Everyone ignores me except the pros who send e-mails pleased with their success in rooting difficult plants. I urge you to try it. Easy. Easy.

The TOOTHPICK TECHNIQUE rooting method.

This is done only in August. All cuttings have to form a callus at the cut end before they will root. This method allows a cutting to callus while it is still on the mother plant.

Select a tip cutting. Look back along the cutting, selecting a bud on last year's growth. Now, using a very small, very sharp knife, make a single vertical cut just below the bud all the way through the stem. Suggest holding a block of wood behind the stem so you do not cut your fingers. Insert a toothpick through the cut and out the other side. If it is a large shrub/tree it is wise to tie some colored yarn on the cutting so you can locate it in the future. Once this is done, walk away and leave everything alone until Oct/Nov. At that time, remove the cutting from the mother plant with sharp pruners. Make your cut just below the toopick. Trim off each side of the toothpick if it does not slip out easily. Dip in rooting hormone. Your cuttings can be rooted in a greenhouse or cold frame. No misting necessary. I usually just tuck my cuttings to root up tight to the house foundation on the east side. Roots should form by late spring.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 4:47PM
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pricem11(z7 NC)

Thanks Nandina, I'll try this as well. I'm also attempting to layer with a toothpick in the cut in damp sphagnum wrapped in cellophane. Will report back on whether this works.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 8:36PM
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Hi, Nichols garden seeds carry the willow leaved bay angustifolia. I have also read it is supposed to be hardier. I have one in a container that is only about 6 inches high so it will be a while before I plant mine out.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 3:56PM
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pricem11(z7 NC)

Thanks Shane. I went to the Nichol's site and I can't find it. I found the standard bay but not willow-leaf. Can you send me a link?


    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 9:32PM
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