Creating a Standard Bay Tree

Topiarized evergreen herbs can be very expensive to buy, but large specimens do take many years of careful pruning. The techniques involved are simple, however, so try this at home and enjoy spectacular results.
Topiary Bay Tree

Topiary Bay Tree

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

From: DK Books - Herbs

Step 1

Young, single-stemmed specimens are easiest to work with, which can often be bought as pots of young seedlings. Using a healthy, vigorous plant, pinch or cut off enough leaves to create a clear stem of the desired height.

Growing Boxwood Topiary

Growing Boxwood Topiary

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 2

To promote bushiness, pinch out all the side shoots to within a few nodes of the main stem. As the branches regrow and fork out, more pinching out will be needed. Remember to save the bay leaf prunings for the kitchen.

Pinch Out Bottom Leaves of Bay Tree

Pinch Out Bottom Leaves of Bay Tree

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 3

Pinch out the main growing tip to "stop" the plant from growing much taller for the next year or so. It also helps the other branches fill out. Only pinch out the tip if you are sure that the tree has reached your ideal height.

Take Out Growing Tip of Tree

Take Out Growing Tip of Tree

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Step 4

Topiarized bay trees can become quite top heavy and will need extra support. Insert a garden stake into the rootball and loosely tie the stem, in two or three places, to the stake using garden string or expandable ties.

Top Heavy Bay Trees Need Extra Support

Top Heavy Bay Trees Need Extra Support

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs © 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Herbs, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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