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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - May 04, 2010

From: Elyria, OH
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Seed and Plant Sources
Title: Growing non-native bay leaf plant from Elyria OH
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I was wondering if the bay leaf plant is native and how hard it is to grow? I am so tired of buying expensive bay leaf in the store and want to do it myself.

ANSWER:

The culinary bay leaf is Laurus nobilis, which is native to the Mediterranean area, as are many of the culinary herbs you purchase at the grocery store. From Old Fashioned Living Growing and Using Bay Leaf we learned that it can be grown as an evergreen shrub in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11. Since Lorain County is in Zones 5b to 6, you will have to treat it as an indoor pot plant. Please be sure to read the cautions about toxicity in certain situations and making absolutely sure you are growing the right plant, as other members of the same family can be poisonous. Some plants are even called "bay" but are not. 

 

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