Propagating a bay laurel (Laurus nobilis, USDA zones 8-10) from cuttings can be challenging, but if you make the cuttings with care and follow the experts' recommended procedure, propagating from cuttings is likely the best way, and you can eventually have a hedge of laurel shrubs bordering your landscape. Laurels are notoriously difficult to grow from seeds.
Some gardeners find that winter is the best time to take cuttings of bay laurel, while others root semi-hardwood cuttings taken in summer. Try your hand at both to see what works best for you.
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How to Propagate Bay Laurel Using Stem Cuttings
1. Take a Cutting
Cut 5 to 6 inches off the end of a live branch with a very sharp knife to remove a cutting. The cuttings should be trimmed of all leaves except the top three or four. Cut the bottom at an angle. If you're taking numerous cuttings, wrap the stems in damp paper towels and place them in a plastic bag until you've taken all the cuttings.
2. Prepare the Container
Pour potting mix or specialized rooting medium into a small pint-sized pot.
3. Treat the Bay Laurel Cutting With a Rooting Hormone
Dip the bottom of the cutting in water and swirl in powdered rooting hormone. If you're using a liquid rooting hormone, dip the cutting in the liquid solution. Gently shake off excess fluid.
4. Plant the Bay Laurel Cutting
Press a 3- to 4-inch hole into the soil or rooting medium. Press the cutting into the hole, making sure that at least one node is below the medium.
5. Water the Cutting Appropriately
Water gently around the cutting, just enough to moisten the soil without soaking. Too much water will cause the cutting to rot.
6. Protect the Cutting for a Year
Place the pot in a sheltered, brightly lit location, out of direct sunlight. After the cuttings produce roots in about six weeks or so, if all danger of frost is past, repot the rooted cuttings into gallon-sized containers. Move the pots to a site that receives some sunlight (morning sun is best). Keep moist, but not soggy. It will take a year for the rooted cutting to grow strong enough to transplant into the place where it will grow.