Basil Propagation: An Easy Way to Expand Your Herb Garden

Do you know that one herb that you can’t cook without? The one that makes your little garden seem empty and your kitchen basic if you don’t have one in it? Basil is that herb. 

Its tender leaves with the spicy clove flavor make it an essential addition to pasta, pizza sandwiches, salads, sauces, and much more. As far as I am concerned, too much basil isn’t a thing.

Unfortunately, it can be quite a struggle to get fresh basil. Much of the ones sold in the grocery store are old and wilted and also very expensive.

Fortunately, it is easy to propagate basil, so keep reading to learn how to grow this plant so you can enjoy the luxury of plucking fresh leaves off your plant.

Tools Needed to Propagate Basil

Propagate Basil

Before you start this process, I recommend you get your equipment and supplies ready so that there won’t be any reason for delay.

Here’s a list of things you’ll need for your project to be successful:

  • A clean pair of pruners
  • A container or pot
  • Glass jar or cup
  • Rooting medium or water
  • Potting Soil
  • Basil seeds or basil cuttings, or a young plant.

You might be wondering, what exactly am I doing with all these? Keep reading to find out.

Methods of Propagating Basil

There are three different ways to propagate basil, and all the methods work for all kinds of basil. 

From Cuttings

Rooting cuttings is the easiest way to propagate basil. But this method only works for stem cuttings. And you can choose whether to root in water or soil.

By Plant Division

This method is for already established plants that have more than one stem. They can be separated and replanted. 

This method is the fastest to get a new plant but is laborious. You’ll get better results doing this with a young plant than with a more mature one.

This is because the young plant would have enough time to produce new leaves.

By Planting Seeds

You can get basil seeds from a store or nursery or your plant’s flower. Shake the old flowers over a container to harvest the seeds.

How to Propagate Basil from Cuttings

Basil Stem Cuttings

You can get your stem cuttings from different places from any established plant. However, avoiding those that have already started to flower is better. 

Take cuttings from healthy, reasonably young basil plants and avoid those that appear to be infected with diseases or pests.

Here are some places you can source basil cuttings:

  1. Grocery store: Most potted basil plants from the grocery store have more than one plant in each container. You can obtain a cutting from one of them 
  1. Garden center: You can take a cutting from the basil seedling you’re buying from a nursery.
  1. A friend’s garden: Do you have a good friend growing basils? Ask if you can get a few cuttings. 
  1. Your garden: As you’ve started growing basils in your garden, you can get an endless supply of cuttings from your plants.
  1. Farmer’s market: You can get freshly cut basils at the farmer’s market. Trim the ends again, and they are suitable to propagate.

To take a cutting from a basil plant, find a stem at least 4 inches long. Then use a sharp pair of scissors or pruners and cut just above the next lowest leaf node.

Next, prepare your cutting by removing the lowest leaves by trimming them or pinching them off. You’ll want to do this when you’re prepared to immediately put them on the water or rooting medium.

The next step is to root your cutting. There are two ways of rooting basil cuttings.

Soil Rooting

Rooting basil cuttings in the soil helps to reduce the risk of transplant shock later, so your new plant is off to a stronger start. 

First of all, prepare your rooting medium. You can buy it from a store or make it at home. I prefer to use a combination of coconut coir, perlite, and vermiculite. 

Next, fill your pot ¾ way with the mix and wet it to the point of being moist. 

Make a hole in the soil with a pencil or your finger and push the stems of your cutting into it. Gently pack the soil around the base so that it can stand firm.

Tent a plastic bag over the pot to create an environment with high humidity. Ensure that none of the leaves touch the bag. 

Care for your cutting by consistently placing it in a location that will give it plenty of indirect bright lights, warmth, and water. Avoid making it too wet. 

The cutting would start to push out new growth in a few weeks.

Water Rooting

Rooting your basil cutting in water is easy and fun because you can watch the process.

You’ll need to use the jar or cup listed above. Any vessel would do, but I like to use clear glass to see what’s happening.

Fill your vessel ¾ full with clean lukewarm water, then place only the stems in the water. 

Ensure that none of the leaves are touching the water to prevent rot.

Now, place the glass with the cutting somewhere with access to bright and indirect light. If the sun is too hot, it may start to wilt.

Refresh the water regularly to prevent bacteria or fungi from breeding in the dirty water.

When the roots start growing, wait until they are at least 2 inches, then re-pot the new plant into a fresh potting mix.

In ideal growing conditions, your cuttings would start forming new roots in 7 to 10 days.

How to Propagate Basil by Plant Division

The basils sold at grocery stores are often the best candidate for this method. 

What you’ll need to do first is to fill a 5-inch deep pot with your potting mix and moisten it. 

Then remove the basils from their pot and gently tease the roots apart until they separate. Work with patience so you won’t break any roots off.

When successfully separating them, bury them in their new containers at the same depth they were in the original container.

Water lightly enough to keep the soil moist, and you should notice new growth soon.

How to Propagate Basil Using Seeds

Basil Seeds

You don’t need to do anything extra to prepare your basil seeds, but soaking them in warm water overnight would help to speed up germination.

First, fill your pot or planting container with a seed-starting soil mix. 

Next, plant the seeds by simply dropping them on top of the dirt and working them into the soil. But you can drop them into a shallow hole of ¼ inch if you like.

Next, water your seeds, preferably from the bottom. Because they are pretty small, watering from the top may displace them.

You should pour water into a tray and place the pot in it, allowing the soil to soak it up from the bottom through the drainage holes. 

Throw away the excess water after 30 minutes, then cover the container with a plastic bag to keep the warmth and moisture in. 

In the right conditions, your basil seeds will germinate after 5 – 10 days. However, they can be slower.

If your seeds seem to be taking too long to germinate, try to increase the warmth. 

After germination, continue to care for them, and you will see your seedling grow so beautifully.

Now that you know how to propagate basils with the different methods, it is time to get to work and enjoy your bounty. Don’t forget to share with your family and friends.

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