Braid a Bay Tree

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Braided Bay Tree TopiaryEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Bay trees can be kept trimmed to make classic evergreen lollipop-shaped topiary. Straight stems look handsome, but for extra texture you can braid or twist several stems around each other. It is an expensive look that you can achieve yourself; all you need are young plants and time for them to grow.

When to Plant: Late spring or early summer
At Its Best: All year round
Time to Plant: 4 hours

Materials Needed:

  • two or three young bay plants, or a plant with suckering stems
  • sharp spade
  • clippers
  • large container
  • broken clay pot pieces
  • soil-based potting mix
  • slow-release granular fertilizer

Select Straight Stems

If you have a multistemmed bay, dig it up and select the longest and straightest stems. Alternatively, buy a plant with lots of stems. Sever the root ball between the stems with a sharp spade.

Retrieve Root BallEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Plant Stems Together

Place some clay pot pieces in the base of a large container, at least 12 in (30 cm) wide. Add soil-based potting mix and some fertilizer, and plant two or three stems as close together as possible.

Potted Bay Leaf TreesEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Remove Leaves

Make sure that the bay stems are planted at the same depth as they were in the ground or pot. Use clippers to remove the leaves from the lower two–thirds of the stems. Rub off any new leaf buds with your fingers.

Remove Leaves From Bay TreeEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
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