Laurus nobilis, the real laurel, is a medicinal and spice plant. The evergreen shrub or tree can reach stately proportions and grow up to 10 m high. In our Central European climate, the plant is unfortunately only partially hardy and remains significantly smaller. The aromatic smell of its leaves is characteristic of the laurel tree. The flowers are rather inconspicuous, small, green-yellow and held together in umbeled inflorescences. Flowering lasts from May to June, but only older plants that have not been cut will flower. The berries are blue-black and shiny.


The true laurel actually comes from the Near East, but now occurs naturally in the Mediterranean region and in the Pacific Northwest of America. With us it only survives planted in the Rhineland, on Lake Constance and in other areas with mild winters, but even there only with winter protection. Otherwise, the culture in the planter is recommended. As a container plant, the laurel is easy to keep and care for and develops splendidly.

The leaves of the laurel are used as a spice. They come in soups, stews, meat and fish dishes and should usually be removed before serving. The leaves are also used to pickle cucumbers and herring, for aspic and to flavor vinegar.

Since the fruits of the laurel tree contain many essential and fatty oils, they are pressed and boiled. The oleum lauri laurel oil is buttery and greenish and is obtained by pure pressing. It is used medicinally for rubbing in, for bruises, sprains and rheumatic complaints. The oil is also used in the perfume industry. You have to be careful with laurel. Consumed in large quantities, it leads to trance and disturbances of consciousness.

Many plants are called laurel. Most are aromatic plants. They can be distinguished by their technical names, the Latin designations.

The care of the real laurel

Except for overwintering, the laurel is easy to cultivate. Its leaves and berries can also be used for this. The laurel even does well as a pure ornamental plant. It can be grown as a stem and also cut into shape. Laurel is one of the oldest tub plants. The plant has one disadvantage, it grows very slowly. If you want to grow a spherical crown, it takes about 10 years until there is a handsome and round crown. Therefore, the trees are usually cultivated as a bush or cut as a pyramid.

It is important that as soon as new shoots appear, the plant ball must not dry out under any circumstances. Otherwise, the new leaves quickly get black edges or even become completely black. The leaves should be harvested outside of the growing season, i.e. in autumn or spring.


Actually, the laurel is quite undemanding as far as its location is concerned. In its homeland, however, it is very sunny and the tree likes the sun very much here too. If there is too little of it, growth slows down. The wood also becomes more vulnerable to diseases and pests. Sun is important, although it is often stated that laurel thrives in the shade. It is a Mediterranean plant.

  • Place outdoors from mid-May
  • A place that is as protected as possible and, above all, warm makes sense.
  • Sun is favourable, but partial shade is also sufficient.
  • 5 hours of sun a day is the minimum.
  • A completely shady location is not ideal.
  • As soon as the first frosts are announced, take them to winter quarters or provide winter protection

plant substrate

The plant substrate is uncomplicated. Either you use good potting soil or better potting soil or simply garden soil. Of course you can enrich it a little more appropriately, depending on the condition, make it more permeable with sand or make it more water-storing with peat. In principle, however, a normal substrate is sufficient.

  • Normal potting or garden soil
  • Prefers sandy, nutrient-rich soil with some peat content

plant laurel

There is not much to consider when planting. The bale is used as deep as it was in the pot. A drainage in the planter prevents excess water from draining away. Do not use pots where the water stays in them.

  • Transplant or repot in spring
  • Repot every 2 to 3 years
  • If necessary, shorten the roots a little when repotting

watering and fertilizing

In summer, the laurel should be watered and fertilized regularly. It is also advisable to hose down the entire plant from time to time. This drives away spider mites and other pests. Too much moisture damages a laurel much more than too much dryness, although drying out of the root ball should also be avoided.

  • Water regularly in summer
  • Bales must not dry out completely
  • Definitely not waterlogging
  • Watering quantity depends on the location, pour more in full sun than in less sunny locations
  • It is important that the soil is not completely dry.
  • Water only when the top layer of soil has dried well
  • Water significantly less in winter
  • Fertilize from April to mid-August
  • Weekly to ten-day fertilizer application with liquid fertilizer
  • Alternatively, use long-term fertilizer in spring

To cut

The laurel can be cut into shape. Round, pyramidal, conical or angular shapes are possible. There are no limits to the imagination. It is important not to cut through the leaves when cutting. Firstly, it doesn’t look good because the edges of the leaves turn brown and secondly, it opens the door for pathogens to penetrate.

  • Shape cutting in March
  • Cut back if necessary
  • Do not cut through the leaves, the interfaces will brown
  • Don’t cut in the sunshine!
  • Dry the cut leaves and use as a spice. They also do well in bath water.


The laurel overwinters like other typical Mediterranean plants. The plant is frost hardy down to around – 5° C. But I have also read that less frost has caused the shoots to die off. So there are other factors at play. In any case, sufficient light is important because the laurel is an evergreen plant. It is often stated that the light does not play a role in wintering. That is not right. As with all Mediterranean and evergreen plants, light is important for the tree to remain healthy.

  • Winter cool
  • Best below 10°C, between 5 and 10°C
  • Sufficient light is important, otherwise the tree will drop its leaves
  • Pouring depends on the temperature. The cooler the winter quarters, the less water is poured.
  • If you water too much, the roots often rot
  • It is better to water too little than too much
  • Don’t fertilize
  • Make sure that the laurel is still cool in the spring and is only slowly brought up to warmer temperatures so that the growth remains compact. Otherwise the shoots shoot loose and become long and squishy.


Propagation is possible in various ways, by cuttings, layering and sowing. It is even possible that in a correspondingly mild climate self-sowing will lead to an invasion of laurel plants, which can be quite annoying. It is favorable that two plants of different sexes are always necessary for fruits and seeds. If you only have one, there are no problems with it.


  • Spring or August and September
  • Take a not fully lignified (semi-mature) cutting just below a leaf node
  • Remove lower leaves
  • Stuck in a mixture of sand and peat
  • Rooting at about 20° C
  • Put a plastic bag over the planter
  • Make the vessel light
  • Water the substrate only lightly
  • Don’t forget to ventilate to prevent mold from forming
  • Pot must be well rooted before you put the small laurel plants in a larger container.


  • Soak seeds in lukewarm water for about two days
  • Put the seeds 1 cm deep in a sand-soil mixture
  • Make light and water lightly
  • Germination time about 2 to 3 weeks

diseases and pests

\Diseases are very rare with proper care. The fresh, tart essential oil drives away many pests and prevents diseases. Too much moisture in the winter quarters can damage the roots.

Pests also like to attack the plants there. Scale and mealybugs are particularly common, as are spider mites, which are generally very annoying. It is best to first try to get rid of the pests by collecting or hosing them off. Only use chemical agents in an emergency, because the laurel is quite sensitive. Systemic agents work best for scale and mealybugs. The plant absorbs the poison and so do the pests when they suck the plant sap. Since scale insects in particular can hardly be combated in any other way, this is the best way to combat them. Spider mites can also be eliminated with plant protection sprays. However, the application has to be repeated several times so that all generations of the annoying suckers are caught.

Of course, one must not use the leaves of the laurel if chemical agents have been used. It takes a long time for the funds to break down and completely disappear from the plant.

The laurel tree is a decorative container plant. You can often see the standard trees in the entrance area of ​​houses, flanking the front door on both sides. The only downside for me of these ornamental plants is that they cannot overwinter outdoors. The only thing that helps is frost-free wintering, with temperatures that are as low as possible, but above 0° C. It is easy to cut and propagate, making it an ideal potted plant if you can offer a suitable winter quarters. I can only recommend the real laurel. I also regularly used the dried leaves, which by the way should be dried and stored in the dark.

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