Cheap and cheerful – how to create more basil plants using water cuttings 

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings

A simple way to take basil cuttings to make new plants for free

I have a terrible record when it comes to growing basil from seeds so I was really intrigued to hear about taking cuttings from plants to create more. I can’t believe it’s never occurred to me before to take basil cuttings. Usually, I cheat by buying a plant in a supermarket, with multiple elongated seedlings crammed together, and try to divide and plant these out. This has given me a small amount of success if I can harvest the leaves before the slugs get them.

I was listening to a recent podcast episode of Still Growing and was inspired to try basil cuttings myself.

How to take basil cuttings

The vigorous growth on basil is perfect for softwood cuttings. I took lengths of stem around 2-3 inches long and removed the lower leaves. Cutting under a node (where the leaves were emerging from the stem) encourages roots to develop at a point where the hormones are concentrated. The very softest growth at the top of the cutting was pinched out.

The leaves and tips that I stripped off were used in a pasta dish so no wastage.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Basil cuttings in water

Since basil is related closely to mint it should root as easily as mint. At the same time as I took the basil cuttings I also took Peppermint and Sweet Potato. These were placed into small glasses somewhere sheltered, out of direct sunlight. The downstairs toilet windowsill is perfect. An unexpected bonus is the aromatic wafts you get from the basil and peppermint.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Basil, Sweet Potato and Peppermint cuttings

Waiting for roots on my basil cuttings

The Sweet Potato and Peppermint definitely won the root race and had grown some adventitious roots within 4 days. I had to wait a long 10 days to see some action on the basil.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Roots showing after 10 days

Potting on basil cuttings

Once there was a good amount of root on each basil cutting, and when I had time to do it, I potted them on into loose multipurpose compost to establish.

Cheap and cheerful - how to create more basil plants using water cuttings
Good amount of root ready for potting up

This was a really easy bit of propagation and was quite successful. A couple of minutes work to prepare the cuttings was all it took to get the process going. One cutting had to be discarded due to rot (It needed to be removed from the water) and I replaced the water twice over the 10 days. That’s it! I’m hoping they’ll establish well so I can pot them on again before starting to harvest.

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