Bay leaves is a very important part of new Orleans cooking. It goes in everything: red beans, soup, stew, etouffee, and of course gumbo. My parents planted a bay leaf tree about 30 years ago. It's now 15' tall, and it's stays about that height only due to a lot of pruning. When I was working and Dad pruned the tree, I'd bring all the branches to work & everyone would snatch them up. The tree is planted close to the front gate & all the neighbors know that the can take a few leaves or branches whenever they wish.
The tree has survived all sorts of weather, blazing hot, occasional temps down to the teens, even 4 feet of salt water from Katrina flooding. It does get some scale on the leaves in the later part of the summer, otherwise, it's not bothered with any disease or pests.
And it's a favorite nesting place for many birds!
Here's the pic of my Mom's bay leaf tree. My Dada passed away 2 years ago & no one trimmed it. Last year, we had all the branches trimmed down to the main trunk. This is how much it's grown since then.
How does one propagate this? I've never seen any little ones coming up.
If you go to to the American Herb Society guide I linked to, they explain a propagation technique, as well as some recipes I would never try (and some I would), dealing with scale, all kinds of good stuff!