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Why are my lovely old bay trees dying?

Lincolnshire, United Kingdom Gb

Why are my bay trees dying? I have two standard bay trees in huge pots in my back garden - sheltered position, perhaps 10 years old. Another huge bay tree, at least 20 years old in the my front garden is also dying of what looks like the same problem. Leaves browning, turning crispy and then dropping off. Problem starts off in one small area - just a branch or so affected - and then spreads. Also bark on trunk is cracking. I can post photos if it will help ...

On plant Bay Tree



Are you sure this isn't just the result of the extremely cold and prolonged winter? Even over here in France our bay trees have died right back, one completely, the other now recovering.
Being in pots won't have helped as the penetrating frost will have affected the root systems. Bays are not completely hardy.
If there is absolutely no growth at the base, and scratching off the bark reveals no living layer beneath, then I'm afraid your bays have had it.

17 May, 2012


Photos might be very useful... but I agree with Bertie's comments above.

17 May, 2012


My Bay looks a bit messy, too. But there are lots of new shoots about to break, so I'll just prune out the dead bits and try to re-shape it. Look for scale insect on the trunk, they appear as 1mm brown bumps that can be scraped off.

17 May, 2012


The same happened to mine last year, I had a pair and one died, the other is recovering. I was told it was frost damage, bought two more , extra careful ths year protecting from frost and guess what it's happened again. The base of the leaf or branch turns brown, then the leaf goes crispy and dies, I have lost the whole of one side of the tree the other side has new shoots. I sprayed for scale insect. Did post pictures on this site but nobody answered.

17 May, 2012


Sjw - these trees hate cold winds - is it possible that the side which died was more exposed to wind than the other, particularly during winter?

17 May, 2012


We have lost quite a few bay trees, I'm afraid, and the symptoms sound familiar. I agree with everyone else - it's likely to have been the cold.

18 May, 2012


Here's a sad story.  Our native red bay trees (Persea borbonia) are dying because of the red bay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus) that spreads a fungal infection called the laurel wilt.  These bugs are native to Japan and India and came to Georgia in 2002 in some shipping crates.  They've spread outward and now our red bay trees have been attacked.

Unfortunately there is no cure or prevention.

19 Aug, 2012

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