We bought a seedling a few inches high years ago. It got every kind of bug and almost died. Now we have to prune it to keep it pot-sized. It goes outside after the winter. Have to give away lots of leaves.
I think the seedling was weak and neglected. After multiple treatments, it never looked back. It doesn't seem to mind being totally soaked after a big rain, although I always drained it later. Doesn't seem to mind dry soil either. New growth can wilt in full sun. We leave it outside where it doesn't get full sun all day.
I had a huge bay tree in my parent's backyard when I was a kid. That and rosemary. Seems like everything I ate growing up was seasoned with those two herbs. Now that I live in zone 4b, it's a bit trickier to get a bay to grow. I've had Lloyd's experience with pests on bay inside - seems to attract everything. But now I am tempted to try it again. I miss bringing seafood I caught home ( or cubes of beef) and wrapping them in fresh bay leaves from the garden to grill on a skewers. And, now I'm off to go see how much a small bay tree will run me.
Mine always had similar leaves as they emerged. Like how an oak leaf looks like an oak leaf when the bud pops, just smaller, redder, and thicker. The timing of the growth doesn't surprise me though. It's a Mediterranean climate adapted species. I remember them initiating their growth for the year anywhere from January to March depending on weather. That's part of why, despite my culinary dependence on bay leaves, I don't think I can successfully grow one right now - no good sunny spot in my house in the winter. Sad for the human occupants too.