Debbie, bay laurel (Laurus nobilis ) is generally considered to be hardy to zone 8. You're in 7b in Raleigh. I've read reports of bay laurel making it in North Carolina, because plants definitely don't always pay attention to what zone they're supposed to be growing in, but I would not put a small plant that had been grown in a greenhouse setting, which yours probably was, out into the cold of winter. Keep it inside, giving it as much light as possible, and keep temperatures on the cool side. (You might also do better with a smaller first pot, as bay laurel likes to be pot-bound. This would also be easier to bring inside.) Good luck!
I know someone who has an outdoor tree in middle Georgia but I agree with Doug: keep it indoors now....but it's a gamble to plant it outdoors in your area.
Anne planted her "cute little bay plant" as a 5 inch plant about 25 years ago. It is now almost as tall as her 3-story house. It is planted at the northeast corner and is protected from winds. I planted it in late spring and have it in an area that has gravel for a parking pad. It survived; the one in the greenhouse did not!
Hello, I had a 7 year old bay tree and left it out over winter and it died. I live in zone 4 so it gets cold. What a loss, took me 7 years to get it to look like a tree. My tree seemed to love it outdoors in the summer, but I should have brought it in in the fall. Won't make that mistake again.
I was given one years ago and carried it from place to place until we settled here on the NW coast. I did put it in a large pot and got it used to being out of doors until it was about two feet tall. I planted it in the yard 8 years ago and it's as tall as our eaves on our single story home. In Santa Cruz, CA, the UCSC campus is full of them and was where I used to get my cooking supply in the 70's. They don't get snow but we get an inch or two every year but temps don't fall below about 25 degrees here. Have you planted it yet?
I would be concerned that you not over water. Generally, I personally would bump up that much all at once. Good luck.