Laurus nobilis: Flemish Laurel tree, maintenance - winter

Being the proud owner of one or more laurel plants, you want to enjoy every year again the specific aroma or the typical shape in which you purchased the plant.
Therefore, some maintenance procedures are necessary. The following tips will surely be useful..

Except in special circumstances, in which the plant could survive winter in a sheltered or walled garden, you should move the plant around half Octobre to a place where it can hibernate.

Untill April, half May, the best conditions for hibernation were achieved in a frost-free glasshouse, where the laurel passes its rest period together with other balcony and terrace plants. However, it can also survive winter in a sun lounge or a dark place. Just take into acoount an adjusted watergift, especially when there is not so much light. In any case make sure the place is frost-free and as cool as possible.
Especially for the fancier, some special activities are to be added :

1) Watering
During winter, water the plant as less as possible, but make sure the soil ball does not get dry.
During a sunny period give the plant slightly heated water (min 8 °C).
If there is no danger of frost, the place is to be ventilated in order to prevent damage caused by fungus or insects.

2) Repotting
The laurel needs to be repotted when the root ball has completely grown through the pot, when the plant has grown too widely for the pot or when it becomes unstable (laurel on trunk). Winter is the perfect time of the year to move the plant to a larger pot.
As the laurel plant shows little leaf and root growth, caused by lower temperature and less natural light in winter, it is best to repot after new year, because otherwise the risk for the wet soil ball is too big.
The new pot is to be 1,5 to 1,9 inches larger than the old pot.
It’s best to use a pot with drainage holes in the bottom, and which goes larger to the top (gives less problems when the plant has to be repotted again).
It is best to repot the laurel plant in its early youth every two years, and when the plant gets older (pot 9,8 to 11,8 inches) every three or four years.

Method of repotting
1 Make sure to have everything at hand. It’s not so nice to have to look for something when you have dirty hands.

2 First, make sure the larger pot is ready, its bottom covered with a layer of soil, and if you wish, some potsherds and argex grains under the soil.

3 Place the plant in the middle of the pot, and scoop on some soil.

4 In order to have the plant stable, a piece of a handle of a broom can be used to tamp down the soil. Go on adding soil and tamp down with the hand.

5 Do not forget to leave room for watering by not filling the pot completely. So the laurel can be sufficiently watered in summer.
What to do with those big heavy pots ?
If the root ball tress passes the pot, than it’s time to look out for fresh soil.
If you do not find a bigger pot, loosen the roots from the bottom of the pot
and remove them partly. Provide the pot with new soil and repot again.
It is very dangerous to remove the roots on the upper side!!!

3) Substrate
When repotting, the choice of the soil is very important. Choose for good quality. Mostly, a rather ‘heavy’ soil is to be chosen, mixed with clay, which simplifies watering in the growth period. Make sure the foot of the plant is never too wet, ‘cause this enhances fungus problems at the roots. In order to avoid this sort of problem, put potsherds and argex grains at the bottom of the pot ( a layer of 1,1 to 1,9 inches).

4) Fertilization
During the winter period the plant is not to be feeded. There is some fertilizer provided in the soil ball which is enough to enter the plant into a new growthperiod. When repotting, do not add fertilizers yourself.

Click on the picture to enlarge..

5) Pruning in winter
During the past summer, the laurel plant has formed some shoots and twigs which makes your plant look different from what you had wished. By means of a sharp and well cutting pruning scissors, you can have back the shape you wanted, taken into account some rules:

For a pyramid shape: cut back the top shoot. At the top of the plant you choose the best places and the best developed shoot: you trim it to 3,9 to 5,9 inches. Make sure the above eye is directed towards the main stem of the plant. Then you can prune off the other shoots as to reach the rigid pyramid shape. All the twigs and shoots reaching further than the cone of the plant are to be trimmed, leaving 2 to 4 leaves. Avoid cutting in the leaves. Do not hesitate to use a plank to achieve a straight pyramid.

When pruning shrubs, pillar shapes, or bulbs on trunk, the same rules as for pyramid shapes are to be applied. You just have to take into account the choice of the top shoot. The shoots are to be trimmed to the circumference of the desired bulb or pillar shape. Also cut back, leaving some leaves.

When pruning, take into account the growth power of the pruned plant: the bottom of the pyramid, bulb, bush or pillar restores itself less quickly than the top.

However, the best way to have a well filled plant and keep it that way, is to prune on the entire surface of the plant, on the bottom being more prudent and less cutting back.

  Symbolic en uses  

Geert en Ingrid Devriese-Luyssen
Schewegestraat 6
8750 Wingene - België

Tel 00 32 (0)51/655430

Website: /



© Copyright 1997-2007 Sierplantenkwekerij Devriese-Luyssen. All rights reserved.