The evergreen bay trees are native of the dry, rocky slopes of Greece, which make it the perfect for xeriscape gardens in Texas, or other locations in Zones 8-11. They also perform well as long-lived houseplants. I stuck with keeping it in a container for now, since I'm not sure that I want to plant this tree, which can grow up to 60 feet high, on my property. It will stay smaller in the container, and I'll have the option to bring it indoors as a houseplant, if I feel so inclined.
The leaves of the bay tree are the same ones that are used in soup recipes, which means this plant gets added to my growing herb collection! In cooking, bay leaves are always used dried, since there are several bitter compounds that are lost when dried. The leaves can be harvested at any time of year, but if kept as a houseplant, the bay leaves are most flavorful in the summer. Tried bay leaves will keep for up to 1 year.
Bay leaves also repel flour weevils: add several leaves in a muslin bag to a flour canister and change to fresh leaves every six months.
Bay trees are very slow growing, but once it is old enough (10-30 years), it will flower in the spring and produce small berries that birds love. I will be very interested to see if I still have the bay tree 10-30 years from now!