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I potted two bay trees at the end of last summer. Over the winter all the leafs have turned brown (see photo).

I potted the trees with good drainage and only watered them twice as the rain did that job for me. I don’t think I underwater them as moss growing on the top of the soil never dried out and looked green throughout the winter.

The trees are facing north and shaded by the house and the winter was very cold but the trees were not exposed to the wind.

Will green leaves grow again or should I plant new trees?
If the trees can be saved should I remove the brown leaves and should add feed?
How do I prevent this from happening next winter?




Lovely entrance to your house.

In the Netherlands and France they cover Bay trees with thin wicker screens to insulate them from the wind and cold (very similar to wicker blinds). This does seem to provide them a lot of protection formt he elements.

All their bay trees as in south facing aspects, I would place your trees in a sunnier but sheltered spot - they need direct sunlight not shade.

31 Mar, 2011


Hi Mservini and welcome to GoY. Try scraping a bit of the bark away from both the trees with your nail. If it is green underneath then they are alive otherwise they are dead. I personally suspect they are both dead and that the pots froze over winter for a considerable period of time which will have prevented the roots from breathing or taking up moisture.

As Kildermorie says they need to be in good sun not shade.

31 Mar, 2011


To me moss is a sign that the soil is waterlogged and needs refreshed and turned and the moss removed and mulch and feed put in its place. You could try and refresh the soil and put them in a sunnier spot.

Hopefully the brown leaves should grow back - are there any signs of buds underneath? A sunnier spot will make them more hardy as they will get that extra bit of temperature from the sun.

31 Mar, 2011


You haven't said where you are in the UK, which would have been helpful, but looking at the size of pots, I'd agree with Moongrower - its possible they froze solid for more than 8 or 10 days, which would have killed the plants.

31 Mar, 2011


as well as wrapping the top its worth putting pots in bubble wrap in winter and cover the trunk as its all vulnrable especialy with the 2 cold winters we have had .

31 Mar, 2011


Totally agree NP

31 Mar, 2011


Thank you for your answers. If I can’t bring them back to life I will try and grow a tree that can live in this location. Can any of you recommend a suitable ornamental evergreen tree that will survive the winter in a pot on a north facing side of a house (in the south of England)?

5 Apr, 2011


The bay trees you have are extremely resilient - the problem's been the arctic freeze we've experienced, particularly this last lot, and the one before. If we keep on getting winters like the last one, all plants in pots are vulnerable because the compost may well freeze for too long. I hesitate to recommend anything else to keep in pots in those kinds of winters.

5 Apr, 2011


i personaly try and avoid pots myself . i think i have 1 that i made but i dought id of baught one realy .ive got a few raised beds in the garden which i much prefer . they have all the plusses of a pot and hardly any of the minusess .

6 Apr, 2011

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