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I appear to have a black sooty film on my bay tree on about 30 per cent of the leaves, can anyone tell me what this is, how to get rid of it, and what causes it, thanks


The sooty mold looks worse than it actually is and generally does not cause any serious harm to the bay laurel. Sooty mold grows on honeydew, which is naturally produced by several different species of sap-sucking insects. You need to sort out the insects.

Try and introduce lacewings, parasitic wasps or ladybugs to your yard to feed on the pests. The soot will just wash off.



A light spray with diluted washing up liquid will help.

I've noticed this more on Bays which are congested and don't have a good air circulation. 

I think Edd is correct in that it is more unsightly than harmful and providing you wash the leaves thoroughly, you can still use them - either fresh or dried - for culinary purposes.


Frankly with all the rain we've had the sooty mould would have washed off if it was going to.

The introduction of insects is impractical for most gardeners. They are either there or not and probably not at this time of year.

If you really want to get rid of it - it will harm the bay - you will have to take more drastic action.  But if the bush is small and the weather sunny, you can sit down and wipe off the critters on the undersides of the leaves with warm water and washing up liquid.

It all depends on whether you are a chemical-user or not.


The sooty mould won't just wash off........however much rain - if it is caused by aphids, it is too sticky.

I agree about the intro of insects....impractical in most cases.

Depends on the size of the tree........a big tree will deal with it........if a small tree, cleaning the leaves will help but unless you are able to deal with the problem at source, you will just have to keep doing it.


Wash with soft soap.You are right philippa,but it will wash off easy.  The problem is, the, attack from insects, like i said. 

Sort that then it is cured. 

philippa, I was trying not to get him to use chemicals. I know you will understand my frustration with chemicals in the ground and appreciate my thoughts.




Don't know about yours, but my bay grows at a scary rate once it gets going in the spring. 
I cut a couple of 12' bays back severely last spring. They soon shot back up, so maybe try some hard pruning and a mulch.

If the underside of the leaves have small brown bumps on them (often with a little bit of white 'fluff' at the base) then it's likely scale insects.
When I get an attack of such things  - I'll whisper the next bit -  I go buy some spray from B&Q - food safe if you intend using for cooking. I do use it responsibly of course.
Good luck



SCALE is the other problem, that i did not want too mention.


Learn to cook and pick them off as fast as you can and use them. 

The only other way, I have found is flyspray in cans. Please do not be lazy and use chemicals.  

Grow and try and introduce plants that attract the insects. 

Its all about balance in nature and the garden. People ask on here about insect plants in their new garden. It does not work like that. You need to know what is there before you scare it off. 

Often in a new garden, there is a hedge that needs a change. This has  a huge effect on nature, with nesting sights/insects and ponds and a lot of other things. if you change things then nature will just rebel and adapt. 

Why spoil nature when you can do a bit of research and adapt to her, with the results you want.



Edd wrote (see)


Learn to cook and pick them off as fast as you can and use them.

(What does this mean?)

The only other way, I have found is flyspray in cans. Please do not be lazy and use chemicals.

Flyspray in cans ??  A chemical, surely? 




Edd...........Sorry............I didn't put that as well as I could have done . I agree wholeheartedly..........I've used diluted washing up liquid to clean leaves of various plants as well as soft soap. Keeping as natural a balance in the garden is the way to go rather than immediately zapping with chemicals. 

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