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I planted a Bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) in my garden in Sweden (60°8'33.86"N, 16°9'46.62"E). I am aware the climate here is not ideal for this tree, but I have hope it can adapt.

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I planted in the summer of 2015 and this has happened since:

Summer 2015: Planted it from a small (baby tree). In the winter it dried out.

Summer 2016: It came up a new branch (I thought it had died!). The branch became around 60cm high, looking great. In the autumn a raindear ate its top leaves and in the winter it dried again.

Summer 2017: 3 branches came up, I put a fence (like this one) around it quite high so no animals reach it.

Question:

How can I make the branches survive over winter? (In Sweden there is quite litle light during winter and temperatures can drop to -25oC)

I thought about covering the small tree during the winter, should I cover just from snow, or close it more hermetic?

  • If someone could make a tag laurus-nobilis would be appreciated, my rep is not enough. – Sergio Aug 12 '17 at 10:16
  • @pnuts should the herbs be used when its a tree? – Sergio Aug 12 '17 at 14:35
  • @pnuts I do use it for cooking/flavours, but I think the tag "herbs" is for smaller plants, the laurus nobilis becames a tree around 6 meters high. (but Its my first day here, that is why I asked) – Sergio Aug 12 '17 at 14:38
  • Noticed a -1 in my question... since I'm new in this community, do let me know what is wrong or could be better in my question. – Sergio Aug 13 '17 at 6:13
  • Welcome Sergio! Joining a new SE community can be tough, as the cultures are not all the same. You're obviously a very kind person, and it was so nice of you to ask how to make this better if necessary. It wasn't my downvote, and I'm really not sure why it would happen. The question has a lot of detail, links to further information, and a thorough explanation of your situation, which are the major things we ask for. I hope you don't get discouraged about being here, we really appreciate you! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Aug 19 '17 at 1:33
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I'm in the UK so have much milder winters than you. But a few days of ~-10°C dipping to -13°C killed all the top growth of mine (unusually severe for southern England). While it came back in spring, the next (much less severe but still below freezing for a few days in a row) winter finished it off. This was growing in the ground. If I was expecting -10°C again I'd put it in the unheated greenhouse (where the potted lemon and olive spend the winter).

The replacement is in a pot and hasn't suffered at all in a sheltered corner against the house, for several years. Neither have two grown as ornamentals in pots in an open porch.

I've seen them described as frost hardy down to -5°C, which agrees with my experience. The difference between this and the temperatures you have would seem too great for fleece/bubble wrap but it might be worth a try.

Honestly what I'd do is put a small one in a nice pot, and lift it in for the winter. When it gets too big for that, try wrapping it in horticultural fleece or bubble wrap (less insulating but lets more light in; dont forget to wrap the pot as well) and leaving it outside. If you've already got one in the ground, or don't have room indoors, just have a go with the insulation.

Snow isn't too bad, it's the cold air you want to keep off it. In fact early snowfall can protect plants that are only slightly hardy.

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I think it is too cold for Laurus nobilis.

It keeps its leaves, so it doesn't like very cold weather. I never had so much cold, but with -10 degree, the leaves start to become yellowish and nearly dead.

But I think you can plant it in a pot. It is a plant which can live under trees, so I think it can survive winter inside an house, with not much sun light. I would not water much in winter.

  • Thanks for looking at this question. In Portugal (where I and the tree come from) they can grow up to 6meter tall tree. So having it in a pot is not a long term option... :/ – Sergio Aug 12 '17 at 14:28
  • @Sergio I live in the UK, and Bay trees here are susceptible to damage outdoors in a cold winter, often dying back to the base. Once they get to a large tree, not so much, but they make awful trees anyway - dense, dark, gloomy, casting equally dense shade. They take a long time to get that large, and I doubt you'll be successful - most people here grow them in pots and just move them to a more sheltered spot in winter, or into a cold greenhouse if its a bad winter. Many are bought as standards but the top dies over winter, then the plant puts out shoots at the base, so then its just a shrub – Bamboo Aug 12 '17 at 16:01
  • @Sergio When I say they make 'awful trees', I mean when they're mature, specifically in more northerly climes, they look really depressing on an overcast, chilly day - they look fine in places like Italy, where the light is much brighter year round, with higher uv levels. – Bamboo Aug 12 '17 at 16:03
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    @GiacomoCatenazzi good idea. Is there a relation between "branch width" and the possibility of it freezing in a cold winter? I play with the idea that it might grow enough to have a "permanent" body and not just new branches coming up from the ground every year. – Sergio Aug 12 '17 at 21:23
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    @Sergio: It could be a nice new question, but... Laurus is a evergreen, and cold will damage the leaves. Additionally, evergreens do not store nutrients in roots (as far I know, but some Mediterranean plants do it anyway, for fire) – Giacomo Catenazzi Aug 14 '17 at 9:34
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I have to admit its too cold for something like that (-25 far too cold) however... it does seem that the roots are protected and it does want to grow, or at least sucker up. which is fine if you want soft usable growth for cooking- usually only older plants seem to tolerate colder temperatures. may be buying a more mature plant might solve your problems however your budget might go through the roof! you could try to protect the plant in several ways using fleece (breathable protective material) or bubble wrap?( I saw once done on a garden full of bananas in paris- very successful) or even a cloche of some kind that could be removed during the summer? however I would be more concerned with day length in the winter that far north? being its an evergreen plant it will need light during the winter months and a balance of light and protection will have to be considered if its to survive, the only other thing is to think about bringing it indoors during the winter in a large pot? and treating it like topiary, clipping it small to keep it tidy, feed as such and keep an eye out for bugs/problems. hope it helps

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