I’ve been multiplying my basil with this technique for years and honestly, it’s almost too good to be true! I’ve shared this How to Propagate Basil post each Spring because, to me, it’s one of the best tricks EVER!
If you’re a regular visitor here at The Café, you might have noticed that I’m crazy about fresh herbs and use basil quite extravagantly in my cooking, garnishing ………. even decorating! If you visit me in the summer, you’ll often find a big bouquet of basil adorning my kitchen counter in lieu of fresh flowers. As warm weather cuisines come into season here in the northern hemisphere, you’ll be seeing lots of recipes that call for this delicious herb. That’s why I’m sharing this How to Propagate Basil tip with you today that many people are unaware of.
Have you heard the well known saying “You can never be too rich or too thin?” I heartily disagree with both of these premises. With so many young, beautiful girls suffering from social-induced image problems like bulimia and anorexia, it breaks my heart that a thin, lean body has become an icon of female beauty. The most beautiful women I know range from being short, tall, large, small, young, old and all places in between!
And as far as material possessions ………….. well, I think Solomon, known as “the wisest of all men”, sums it all up quite nicely; “Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich I may deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name”.
Now basil ……….. that’s a whole different story. Although we grow a lot of basil each summer, it seems like I could always use more. One of my favorite recipes ever, Sweet Basil Vinaigrette calls for a quarter pound of basil - have you ever seen how much basil it takes to make a quarter pound!?
Every year, right around this time, I purchase a live basil plant at the market, the biggest one I can find. Basil is easy to find right now and a nice size plant usually costs less than three dollars.When I get the pretty little plant home, I cut it up into 10-12 pieces. What?! Yup, basil is very easily propagated and your kitchen window sill is the perfect place to start your own little basil nursery. One plant can yield up to a dozen lovely basil plants for spring and summer enjoyment.
Go ahead, pick up a fragrant green basil plant next time you shop and follow the “recipe” below. Within 10 days you’ll have enough basil plants to get you through the summer. If you have limited space and/or can’t use that much basil, go ahead and root them anyway – use the little plants as gifts to your “foodie” friends – they’ll be thinking of you VERY fondly all summer long!
- 1 large, full, healthy basil plant, either potted or hydroponic
- kitchen scissors or a sharp knife
- small glass containers
- fresh tap water
- Begin this process no more than 2-3 weeks before it is safe to plant basil in your climate zone, which is usually when temperatures will consistently remain above 50˚ at night, the days are warm and sunny and there’s no danger of frost.
- With a kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, cut 3-4 inch cuttings (they may end up being a bit longer depending on where the first leaf node is) right below a leaf node; this is where a leaf joins the main stem.
- Remove leaves off cuttings on the lower 2 inches.
- If there are tiny leaves at the leaf node, don’t worry about these.
- Place cuttings in small clear glasses of water on a bright, sunny (not hot) window sill. You can put 1-2 cuttings in each glass. Watch the water levels carefully, adding water to keep stems immersed. Change the water every other day to keep it fresh.
- After 5-7 days you will begin to see some tiny white roots forming.
- Each day more and more will appear. Let the roots grow to about 2 inches. This will take about 2-4 weeks, from start to finish. You are now ready to plant your plants outdoors in a sunny spot.
~ The cuttings may look a bit droopy after a day or so. They are just adjusting to a new environment; keep the water level full and be sure to change the water every other day. A little warning; sometimes one or two of the “little offspring” just don’t make it – it’s too shocking for their system – you should have plenty of others though, that do just fine!
~ Don’t be snitching basil during this growing period. That’s a good way to put them into irreversible shock (I’m not, I’m really not telling you this from personal experience ………..oh dear, my nose is growing!)
~ Fresh herbs love lots of water, especially in the hot summer months. They will wilt, droop and their growth will be stunted if they don’t receive enough moisture. I am very forgetful and lazy when it comes to watering plants. Years ago, my husband devised an ingenious system that keeps my herbs healthy and beautiful during the scorching summer weather we experience here in the Carolinas. Check out this post and you’ll be able to see for yourself how this simple and ecologically efficient drip system works!