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Basil Propagation: How to Propagate Basil From Cuttings

Basil propagation is an easy and rewarding way to divide and grow many more FREE basil plants! In this post we’ll go over exactly how to propagate basil successfully.

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how to propagate basil plant from cuttings

Growing Basil

One of the easiest culinary herbs to grow is basil (Ocimum Basilicum). It can withstand drought, excess water, heat and cold fairly well.

In addition to being pretty hardy and easy to grow, it is also incredibly easy to propagate.

If you already have basil growing in your own garden, you can make new basil plants for free with just a little effort.

Grow an entire forest of basil, sell extra plants for side homestead money, or give them away to friends and family.

I get a little giddy thinking that with propagation and seed saving I can provide free and healthy food for my entire community – a rebellion against our current food and capitalist system.

Why and How to Trim Basil

Before we talk about propagating basil, let’s learn about the importance of trimming basil first.

Trimming is a great way to have a healthy basil plant. Most gardeners are afraid of trimming because of the thought that they might harm the main stem.

But, the good news is, trimming is a good way to encourage more basil stems to grow and bush around.

Trimming is a great way to get lots of basil and to encourage growth. It’s simple and easy, too.

You can trim your basil once a week. It is also important because trimming helps prevent flowers from forming.

When flowers start to grow around the plant, the taste begins to change and might develop a bitter taste.

Another benefit of pruning is that you get to keep or use the sets of leaves you just trimmed for a great recipe.

When you spot the top shoots, you just have to cut the topmost stem. This encourages the single stem to be two stemmed. More shoots mean more leaves. More leaves mean more harvest.

The fresh basil leaves that you have just pruned can be used for propagating or for later use. You can also store them for later.

How to Propagate Basil From Cuttings

Making new plants out of one parent plant has been made possible through propagation.

There are actually two rooting processes that you can choose from. You could let it grow in water or in a potting mix.

Both are pretty simple techniques that you can use to grow whatever variety of basil you want to have at home.

Don’t have any live basil plants around your herb garden? Not a problem! You can always get basil root balls or small cuttings from the grocery store.

It could be the best way to start planting as these herbs are available almost all the time of the year!

How do you get fresh cuttings from your mother plant? You can have as many cuttings as you want.

The more cuttings you take, the more plants you are going to have. Avoid taking cuttings that have flowered already.

You would probably take basil cuttings to be 4 inches below a leaf node. Remove any basil leaves that are at the bottom of the cutting.

You can use the bottom set of leaves for another recipe, too.

In taking your cuttings, you don’t just simply snap the stems off. You could actually hurt the plant.

I suggest you use a sharp pair of scissors to get the job done. You don’t only hurt the stem, but you have a clean cut, too.

As I mentioned earlier, this step benefits both the plant and you. It gets more surface area to grow and you get herbs for the kitchen.

propagating basil cuttings from a mature plant

Rooting in water

Fill a mason jar or a clear glass with just enough water. I like to use clear glass just so I could see how the basil roots are doing. If you are using water, this could have chemicals on it. Let it rest for 24 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate.

Next, take the lower leaves out from your cuttings and place the cuttings there. You can have more than one stem cutting in one mason or glass jar. The bottom of the stem should be dipped in the water.

Place the jar of water on the sunny window sill or outside where it can get direct sunlight. However, you might want to take special attention to it if you place it outside. Too much sunlight could be too much for the cuttings. Indirect light might be best.

Once you have picked the perfect place to let it stay, it’s the perfect time to wait for the results to show up. For best results, you could check the water level everyday. I like to change the glass of water every day. Freshwater works best to keep the stinky smell away and there’s nothing wrong with clean water, right? Changing water could also be a great way to track root growth.

In a few weeks, you would notice your basil propagation roots growing up to 2 inches. It usually takes a couple of weeks for the rooted cutting to develop. When the new roots are longer than 2 inches, these new cuttings can be transferred in small pots. Place the pots in a place where they can get direct sunlight.

Rooting in potting mix

Propagating basils in potting mix requires more materials. You will first need a big pot. By big, I mean pots that have a 4-inch diameter. Larger pots would do well, too. Next, you will need a potting mix with moist soil. You will also need a clean plastic bag and lastly, the cuttings of basil.

The first thing that you would like to do is to fill your pots with a potting mix. This way, your cut ends don’t get too much time in the air and you can avoid the cuttings from drying up.

Move the pots to a place where they can receive sunlight. Just like the previous rooting process, these plants love to get indirect sunlight, so look for a place in your house where they can get enough sunlight they need.

You can place the plastic bags on top of the plant to give it an environment with high humidity. Water the soil every now and then, making sure the soil never goes dry.

Expect the plants to push out of the soil in two weeks. You can give it a light pull to check if roots are present. If the plant sticks a bit when you pull, this means the roots have formed. You can then transfer them to another place—be it your garden bed or other pots outside.

Bonus: the original basil plant you took the cutting from will grow thicker and bushier after this pruning, and propagating can be repeated as many times as you like!

basil cuttings propagating in water

Propagating is one of the easy ways for you to have plenty of basil at home. You can never go wrong with having too much in your herb garden, right? You could also improve the quality of your mature basil plants at home by using liquid fertilizer or soil mix.

You can try propagating other herbs, too. These popular herbs make great gifts, too! You can place them in small containers and voila! You have a neat gift for them.

For awesome recipes using basil, check out:

Bonnie V

Thursday 9th of June 2016

I need to do this. I always run into the issue where I either don't have enough basil or some of it mysteriously dies, once again leaving me with not enough basil. LOL I did accidentally propagate some last year when a stem broke off and (without thinking) I stuck the broken stem back into the dirt. By some miracle it survived. I love propagating everything I can.

Thank you for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop.