CALIFORNIA LIFE & STYLE

How to grow your own bay leaves

Growing your own bay leaves Where to buy: Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) trees can be found at Armstrong Garden Centers (check armstronggarden.com for locations), Marina del Rey Garden Center and other area nurseries. Price: Costs vary from $30 to $50 for a 5-gallon pot. Where to plant: They can be maintained in pots for patio and balcony gardens given good drainage and regular water, or planted out in most California gardens where they will need weekly to monthly irrigation as they become established. They take hard pruning, can be used in close-planted hedges and as topiary, or they can become large stand-alone trees. Caution: Contaminated nursery stock was identified as one vector of Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen responsible for California and Oregon epidemics of sudden oak death, so gardeners beware: Buy bay laurel trees only from a reputable grower, never buy a runty specimen, and think twice before putting them near oaks or oak woodlands. The major regional supplier, Monrovia Growers, confirms that it has never had such a case in Laurus nobilis and that it checks assiduously to keep the stock healthy. -- Emily Green

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