Plants are much like shoes. A certain type will be in style for a couple of years and then ... POOF ... they're done. And you can't find them anywhere again. Even if they were comfortable, and you loved them and you didn't care if they were in style or not and you just wanted another pair because you killed your current ones.
Sucks to be you, 'cause those shoes are gone forever.
And so is that Fibre Optic plant.
This year when I went looking for plants for my garden I wanted to get a plant that I've been able to get for the past few years. A Fibre Optic plant that goes by the latin name, Isolepsis (Scirpus). It's gone. Nowhere to be found. Disappeared. It was in style for a few years, the new thing, loved by all ... and now the garden centres have cast it aside like a pair of Crocs. Or at least Croc charms.
I have a black, black misery of a rain cloud over my head because I can't find this plant.
What does this have to do with growing a Bay Tree? I think you know. Last year I saw a bay tree for sale in my local garden centre's herb section for the first time so I bought one. I saw them there again this year.
I am here to tell you that just because you can get Bay Trees this year does NOT mean you'll be able to get them next year. So if you see one, or any other plant you think you might like ... buy it. Because there is no Marshalls or Winners or Tiger Direct for plants.
As I said, I bought the Bay plant last year and it was about a foot high. I planted it in a sunny spot in the garden and picked bay leaves from it all summer. It grew and grew and grew to form a nice little plant. Come the end of September I started to worry about my little Bay tree and its never ending supply of fresh bay leaves that weren't ripped, blackened or covered in a weird greyish powder.
So I dug my bay plant up, put it in a big pot and brought it into the basement where I promptly ignored it all winter. If I remember correctly I probably watered it around 5 times the entire winter. So maybe once a month when it looked like it was threatening to die on me.
In May I hauled it out of the basement and hardened it off outside over the course of about a week. Last week, I planted it and it was a great success. Bay leaves for everyone!
There are a few things you can successfully overwinter inside, including fig trees, peppers plants and ballet flats.
Well, I know what plant I'll be getting next....I live in Massachusetts, so it would have to come back in during the winter. How difficult is it to plant and then dig up every year? We rent, and I don't think our landlord's would mind (they're in to gardening) but would it just be easier to put it in a large pot? Or would that just be hindering its growth? I just got a 10 inch fig tree so I have the same concerns for that little fellow.
HI Trish - It'll be fine in a pot outside if you like. They're easy enough to plant and dig up if you like though. ~ karen!
Did you successfully harvest any bay leaves prior to overwintering?
Oh lord yes. I harvested them all summer long! ~ karen
Now, I'm inspired to get a Bay Tree and Fiber Optics pellets. I never heard o f it but it looks fantastic in the photo. This fun! Thank you!
Secret Garden Growers has the optic plant.
We have made thousands of wreaths using bay laurel from the coast (seattle / Olympia area) I think it grows wild over there. It is so pungent when we are doing large production that some of my workers have gotten sick from it and had to take a day off to get it out of their system and then try again. (Same with large production of lavender wreaths) It gets to be quite a big bush from the ones I have seen in California central coast. I wish I had some myself growing on our property, but I think it needs a milder climate to get really big like the ones I saw. :)
Belated response - somehow I missed this last summer. The California bay [which also grows in Oregon] gets to be a pretty good-sized tree. It's the one the carvers use for that "Oregon myrtlewood" stuff. It's a lot more aromatic and assertive than the European bay that Karen has - you do have to be careful handling it in quantity.
For those in cold-winter areas who need to overwinter this inside, just keep it trimmed to a manageable size. You don't want to trim it like a hedge or those round balls some people like their shrubs to be in. Cut it back to leave maybe the first 2 internodes produced each year, or farther if it's getting too big. [Internodes being the stem sections between the leaf nodes]. Cut it a little above the leaf node so the leaves from the dormant buds will be at the end of the branches. Otherwise you will have little dead branch stubs everywhere above the new leaves.
I like the fresh leaves from this better than any of the store-bought alternatives
I've had a bay plant in a pot for years that I trained to a single stem and pruned into a ball (well, sort of...). It goes outside all summer and sits inside by a window all winter, and doesn't grow too awfully fast. Easy peasy. Definitely worth it!
I swear there are some fiber optic plants at the grocery store just down the street from my house. I'll plant some and pour a little out for your lost homies.
Hi Nikki. I believe the phrase I am looking for here is "Hurumph". ~ karen!
I just bought a hibiscus tree, live in SC. Will I have any luck this winter if I put it in the garage and water it once a month?
I really like it.
Hi Susan - Yup. You'll be fine. It may lose every single leaf on it, LOL, but if you protect it from frost (and your garage stays relatively warm?) then you should be able to put it outside again once it warms up. It will look sad and sickly but within a couple of weeks it should start putting out fresh new leaves. ~ karen!
where can i buy a bay leaf plant
On the west coast of Vancouver Island, my bay is in a clay pot, tucked into a sheltered SE corner beside the house. First winter I put the pot in a large cardboard box, stuffed in an old wool blanket along with some bubble wrap to insulate it, and left it to fend for itself. This past winter I did nothing. The bay is thriving, and underplanted with a teeny leafed creeping thyme. So happy together.
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Do I harvest it like Basil? Meaning if I cut the stem, will two branches appear?
Yes, but it grows much more slowly than basil. More like a rose bush. So it would take a while for those two branches and leaves to appear. But that doesn't matter much since you only use one or two bay leaves, while when you need basil you usually need a bunch of it. I harvest my bay from the lower stem. ~ karen!
i live in Salinas Ecuador and wonder if we can get the trees here and if they are hard to grow in this climate on the coast here. which one would be the best for repelling cockroaches as we have them even where here
Exactly!! I have been coveting my friend’s bay tree for 2 years and unable to find one anywhere!!!! I finally took about six cuttings, stuck the little branches in rooting hormone, then soil, and kept them outside, moist, all summer. Most of the 5-6 cuttings haven’t made it but 2 have tiny new growth. I’ll nurture them inside over the winter. Fingers crossed! It may take me years to grow a little tree.