Today you’ll learn all about the simple process of growing basil from a cutting. Basil exemplifies summer. I want lots of it – don’t you?!
I love to have lots of bushy basil plants. In order to get basil to be bushy instead of leggy, it needs to be pruned back just above a set of leaves. When that stem is pinched out, the side shoots are stimulated to grow. This leads to a full, bushy basil plant.
The best part is, you can begin growing basil from a cutting by doing something you already have to do…prune!
How to begin growing basil from a cutting
A few years ago, I found out that basil is one of the easiest plants to root. That is amazing news, because I love basil and I want lots of it! So if I can easily root the cuttings, then I can make more plants quickly and easily.
I already have to pinch back my basil to prune it on a regular basis. What I learned was that when I’m doing my regular pruning, I can root those pinched off ends to produce new basil plants!
1. Prune basil just above a set of leaves
Like I mentioned above, you want to prune your basil on a regular basis. In order to begin growing basil from a cutting, you need a cutting. This is the perfect way to do it!
You’ll want to leave a few sets of leaves on each stem when you prune it, so go up 2-3 sets of leaves before you take a cutting. Then simply pinch off the stem directly between a set of leaves. Here’s a super quick video of how to do that.
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You can also use sharp scissors or some garden pruning shears. These are my very favorite ones because they can get into small spaces. This works especially well when the plant is older and you forgot to prune it. As the stems get bigger they get a bit tougher, so the pruning shears help.
Prune back your basil plants and use it to make pesto and Margherita pizza, and caprese grilled cheese sandwiches, but save a few of the cuttings to root.
2. Put the basil cutting in water
I usually use a glass cup so I can see the roots as they grow. I put plastic wrap tightly over the top of the cup and poke little holes into it with a toothpick. Then I put the stem of the cutting through the hole so that it is dangling into the water.
You’ll want to make sure the cut on the bottom is nice and fresh. If it starts to heal up, it will seal the stem and it won’t allow the water to go up the stem. If it doubt, give it a quick fresh cut to be sure.
The basil pictured here is Purple Opal Basil. Isn’t it so pretty!? It’s one of my favorites. Here’s a link to get seeds for this variety!
3. Replenish water and wait
Make sure to keep the water level so it’s always touching the bottom of the cuttings. Keep it in a sunny window and over the course of a couple weeks, you’ll see roots beginning to grow.
I wait until they get about this long, and then I take them out to the garden!
4. Once the basil has roots, plant it!
Once the basil has roots, you’re almost finished with growing basil from a cutting! Now all you need to do is tuck that tiny seedling into the ground.
I normally plant my basil between my tomato plants, since they are known to be good companion plants. I follow the Back to Eden method (find out more about why I use a no till method here). Because my garden is covered in chipped wood, I just pull that back and then plant the seedling into the soil below.
Give it a good drink of water and let it grow!
5. Start growing basil from a cutting all over again
Once the roots settle in, your little basil plant will begin to grow. To keep it from getting leggy, after it has a few sets of leaves on it, make sure to prune it back. Again, this will help to make it big and bushy instead of tall and lanky.
The crazy thing is that you can take these pruned cuttings from your new plant and do the same thing you did before!
Can I grow basil from a cutting when it’s cold outside?
Absolutely! I live in Northeast Ohio, so we can only grow basil outside a few months a year. The great thing is that basil grows wonderfully in a warm location, so inside your house is perfect.
When you go to plant your cuttings, instead of planting them outside in the garden, just put them in a pot indoors and place in a sunny location.
It’s as easy as that!
What to do with all my basil
Now that you’ve got tons of basil, what do you do with it all!?
Use it as a filler
I follow Floret Flowers and they mention on their blog post that basil is a wonderful summer foliage to use as a bouquet filler! Did you know that?! I didn’t!
Obviously, you can use it for basil pesto, or for Margherita pizza, or caprese grilled cheese sandwiches or on of a million fresh basil recipes!
You can also preserve it for later in the year! One of my favorite ways of preserving herbs is to throw them in our Vitamix with some olive oil and let it blend up. Then I put it into a quart baggie and flatten it and make sure I get all the air out. Then I freeze it flat. When I want to use it, I just break off a frozen chunk!
You can also just chop it and add it with olive oil to an ice cube tray and freeze it that way.
So that’s how you grow bail from a cutting. See? I told you it was easy!!! Let me know how it goes if you try it!