How to propagate bay laurel by cuttings (stems) and its care

Propagating bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) takes time and patience. On the plus side, you’ll likely have better luck rooting cuttings than trying to grow bay from seed. In this guide we will see how to propagate bay laurel by cuttings and its care.

spread the laurel


When to Take Bay Laurel Cuttings

To start, you will need to take the cuttings in mid to late summer.

You must select semi-hard branches, with still green and flexible wood. Avoid woody branches or thin new stems.

You may get lucky and your first attempt will be successful, but I recommend taking a lot more than you think you need to improve your chances of success.

If you have room, grab a dozen and hope a couple survive.

Preparation of cuttings

multiply laurel cuttings

First, choose a healthy, mature plant to propagate that does not show obvious signs of disease or pest infestation.

The ideal is a side shoot about 15 centimeters long. It should be at least as thick as a phone charging cable.

Although you can cut the stem completely at an angle, I find that heel cuts tend to be more successful.

What is a heel cup? This is when a small tail of bark from the main plant is left attached to the length of the stem, instead of cutting it off entirely.

multiply laurel cuttings

A heel cutting is better for propagating bay and tough plants because it includes more cambium layer, where plants take root, and there is more auxin present, a hormone that regulates plant growth and promotes growth. ‘rooting.

To make a bead cut, start with scissors or a knife that has been cleaned in a 1:10 mixture of bleach and water.

Make a small incision at the top of the stem, about a third to half. Then gently bend and pull the bud until it separates from the main bud.

You need to remove about half a centimeter of heel. If it’s too much, cut off the excess.

multiply laurel cuttings

You should now have at least 6 inches of stem. Repeat as desired to get plenty of stem lengths for rooting.

After taking the cuttings, plant them immediately or place the cut ends in a pot of water to keep them hydrated and minimize moisture loss.

Before planting them, remove all the leaves except the top two or three. You can use the leaves you removed immediately in your kitchen or dry them to use later.

If the remaining leaves are large, cut off a third of the length of each.

We remove the leaves to reduce the amount of moisture the plant loses, which gives us a better chance of success.

plant in the ground

multiply laurel cuttings

The best medium is a potting mix with perlite and coconut fiber.

After stripping, dip the end of each cutting in rooting hormone. See: rooting

For planting laurel cuttings, it is best to use individual containers, this will facilitate transplanting when the roots have grown.

Dig a hole in the ground and insert the cutting halfway up the stem. Firms the earth around him to keep him upright. Repeat with the rest of the cuttings, placing them in their own containers.

Soak the soil well so that it looks like a well-wrung sponge. It is convenient for the soil to remain as moist while the new plants take root.

Cover it with a blanket or clear plastic to help retain moisture. One of the easiest methods is to use a plastic bag and some long sticks.

Arrange the sticks around the rim of the container and lower the bag over them. The sticks will keep the plastic away from the plants.

multiply laurel cuttings

Place bay cuttings in an area that receives six to eight hours of indirect light. Although you can keep them outside, the ideal temperature for this process should be around 15°C, so for most people an indoor location is best.

Gradually reduce the time the plant is covered with plastic to acclimate it to the humidity level in your area.

For the first month, leave the plastic in place full time. For the next few weeks, take it off for an hour a day. Then take it off for a few more hours a day for the next few weeks.

After a few months, even if some have failed, at least some cuttings should have developed new roots. If you pull gently, those who have rooted will resist.

At this point, you can completely remove the plastic and allow the top of the soil to dry out between waterings.

Over time, the plants will begin to grow new leaves. Let this happen naturally instead of pinching off new growth.

Transplanting bay laurel cuttings

In the fall, as long as you have successfully rooted the cuttings with new growth, you can put them in the garden soil.

Let’s harden them off gradually over a few weeks. On the first day, place the plants outside for half an hour in a sheltered spot with indirect light.

Add an hour the next day, an hour the next day, and continue until they’ve been gone for seven hours a day.

Then put them in direct sunlight for an hour, two hours the next day, and so on. The goal is to accustom your plants to full sun before putting them in the ground or in a new pot.

Caring for bay laurel cuttings

multiply laurel cuttings

Don’t despair if some of your cuttings don’t survive. There are many reasons why they cannot be planted.

Plants that don’t get enough moisture or are exposed to direct sunlight are more likely to fail.

Be sure to check the soil moisture level daily. You should also check frequently to see if the sun is starting to hit your plants.

You may have placed them correctly at first, but as the seasons progress, so will the position of the sun.

Some cuttings that fail may have contracted root rot, which thrives in high humidity conditions. This disease is caused by aquatic molds of the genus Phytophthora.

Most of the time, the cutting will simply die without showing any obvious symptoms. But it is also possible that it wilts, yellows or suffers from a general lack of vigor.

To prevent root rot in the future, be sure to use clean, sanitized containers, soil, and tools.

Also, do not take cuttings from plants showing signs of disease and be careful not to overwater.

Now that you’ve tackled one of the most difficult plants to propagate, take a look at our guide to growing bay laurel to review how to care for your new plants: How to Grow and Plant Organic Laurel.

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