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How to Grow Basil from Cuttings: An Easy Guide

How to Grow Basil from Cuttings An Easy Guide

If you love Italian food, you surely can’t get enough of this unique herb. From pesto to pizza and pasta, the possibilities are endless!

If that’s the case, then there’s nothing better than growing your own basil plant in your own home. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through growing basil, from cuttings to selecting the right stems to transplanting your young plants into the garden. 

Let’s get started!

Why should you grow basil from cuttings?

Why should you grow basil from cuttings
Image: Gardening Know How

Growing basil from cuttings is a cost-effective and faster way than planting seeds. It also retains the same genetic traits as the parent plant and makes basil available year-round.

Basil seeds can take up to 8 weeks to germinate and mature into harvestable plants. By contrast, basil cuttings can be rooted and ready for harvesting in just 2 to 3 weeks to enjoy fresh basil from your garden much sooner.

It’s also a great way to preserve your favorite basil varieties. They retain the same genetic characteristics as the parent plant, ensuring you get the desired flavor, aroma, and growth habit.

By propagating your plants from cuttings, you can save money on seeds and have an endless supply of basil. Basil cuttings can be propagated year-round, allowing you to enjoy fresh basil even during the colder months.

Where can you get basil cuttings? 

Where can you get basil cuttings
Image: Homestead and Chill

There are several places to get basil cuttings for propagation, such as in grocery stores, garden centers, farmer’s markets, or your own or a friend’s garden. 

In choosing healthy cuttings, make sure to select cuttings from healthy basil plants that are free of pests and diseases. We also recommend taking cuttings during summer or early spring because that’s when the plants are actively growing.

Cuttings should be made with sharp shears or pruning knives to minimize damage to the plant. It’s best to cut directly below a leaf node, a point on the stem where a leaf grows.

How to Grow Basil from Cuttings

Now, let’s discuss each step of growing new basil plants from cuttings.

1. Take cuttings from a healthy but not flowering plant. 

Take cuttings from a healthy but not flowering plant
Image: Homestead and Chill

Choose a basil plant that is free from pests and diseases. The plant should be actively growing and producing new leaves. 

Do not take cuttings from basil plants that are flowering. Flowering plants are already putting a lot of energy into producing flowers and seeds, and they may need more energy to support the growth of new cuttings. 

Here are steps to take cuttings from the stem of the basil plant.

DifficultyEasy ●○○○○
Duration1 to 2 hours
Things You NeedSharp scissors or pruning shears

1. How To DoChoose healthy cuttings.
Select 4 to 6-inch long stem cuttings from a healthy basil plant that is not flowering. Make sure the cuttings are free of pests and diseases.
2. Prepare the cuttings.
Cut the stem below a leaf node, which is the bump on the stem where a leaf grows. 

2. Remove the lower leaves from the stem.

Remove the lower leaves from the stem
Image: Shrimp Salad Circus

Removing the lower leaves from the stem is essential in rooting basil cuttings. Submerged leaves can rot in water or soil, introducing bacteria and harming the cutting. 

By removing the lower leaves, you’re directing the plant’s energy toward root production rather than sustaining those leaves. This focused energy allocation increases the likelihood of successful rooting.

3. Place the basil cutting in water.

Place the basil cutting in water
Image: Cicili TV

Placing basil cuttings in water is an effective method for rooting them and propagating new basil plants. Water provides the cutting with essential hydration, preventing it from drying out.

Placing the cutting in water also minimizes the stress it experiences so it can focus its energy on root development rather than adapting to a new environment.

4. Position the basil cuttings on a warm, bright spot.

Position the basil cuttings on a warm, bright spot
Image: Garderner’s Path

Positioning basil cuttings in a warm, bright spot is crucial for successful rooting and promoting healthy growth. Warm temperatures stimulate the plant’s cellular activity and enzymatic processes, accelerating root development. 

Bright indirect light provides the energy needed for photosynthesis, where plants convert sunlight into food. This energy is essential for root formation, nutrient uptake, and plant vigor.

Once roots have formed, bright light will stimulate the development of healthy leaves. This ensures that the rooted cutting has the resources necessary for continued growth and development.

5. Switch water every two to three days.

Switch water every two to three days
Image: Gardener’s Path

Switching the water in the bottles with fresh room temperature water is essential for successful and healthy root growth of the cuttings. Stagnant water can quickly deplete oxygen, which is necessary for root growth and respiration in plants. 

Regularly changing the water ensures that the cuttings have access to a fresh oxygen supply, promoting healthy root development and preventing suffocation.

Stagnant water can also become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and microorganisms. So, changing the water regularly helps maintain a clean and healthy environment for root development.

Finally, freshwater makes sure that the cuttings get a steady supply of nutrients, preventing deficiencies that could hinder rooting and growth.

6. Wait until the roots start growing and become ready for planting.

Wait until the roots start growing and become ready for planting
Image: Amazing Herb Garden

After two to three weeks, the basil cutting should have grown a real set of roots about 2 inches long. When the roots are about that size, the basil cuttings are ready to plant in the soil. 

This part is very easy, as simple as putting the rooted cuttings into a pot with soil or directly into the ground, covering with soil to above the root level. Ensure they have enough water in the first few days to adjust to the new growing medium. 

How to Root Basil in Potting Mix

How to Root Basil in Potting Mix
Image: Homestead and Chill
DifficultyEasy ●○○○○
Duration1 hour
Things You NeedHealthy basil plant
Sharp scissors or pruning shears
Potting mix (well-draining)
Pot with drainage holes
Watering can or spray bottle
Rooting hormone

How To Do

1. Select healthy cuttings.
Choose cuttings from a healthy, non-flowering basil plant. Take cuttings 4 to 6 inches long and cut at an angle just below a leaf node.

2. Remove lower leaves.
Remove the leaves from the cutting’s bottom  2 to 3 inches to prevent rotting and encourage root development.

3. Dip the cutting in the rooting hormone.
Dip the end of the cutting into the hormone powder to encourage faster root development.

4. Prepare the potting mix.
Fill a pot with drainage holes with a well-draining potting mix. Moisten the potting mixture thoroughly.

5. Make a hole in the potting mix.
Using your finger, make a hole in the potting mix that will fit the stem of the cutting.

6. Insert the cutting.
Gently insert the cutting into the hole. Make sure that the bottom 2 to 3 inches of the stem are submerged in the potting mix.

7. Firm the potting mix.
Gently firm the potting mix around the stem of the cutting to secure it in place.

8. Water thoroughly
Water the pot thoroughly until water runs out of the drainage holes.

9. Place in a warm, bright location.
Position the pot in a location that receives indirect sunlight since direct sunlight can scorch the leaves.

10. Monitor moisture.
Keep the potting mix moist and water regularly, especially during the first few weeks, to provide adequate hydration and nutrient uptake.

11. Mist the leaves.
Mist the leaves of the cutting regularly to maintain humidity level and prevent them from drying out.

12. Allow the cutting to root undisturbed for 1 to 3 weeks.
Gently tug the cutting after a few weeks to check for root development. If the cutting feels firmly rooted, it is ready to be transplanted.

13. Transplant the basil cutting.
Once the cutting has developed 1 to 2 inches of roots, transplant the basil cutting into a larger pot or garden.

Gently remove the rooted cutting from the pot, taking care not to damage the roots.

Prepare a planting hole in your garden or pot with well-draining soil. Place the rooted cutting in the hole and fill it with soil, gently firming it around the plant. Water thoroughly.

FAQs on Basil Cuttings

How long does it take basil to grow?

It takes 60 to 90 days for basil to grow from seed to maturity.

Why is it best to cut the stem just below the leaf node of the basil plant?

It’s best to cut the stem just below the leaf node of the basil plant because it encourages root development. The leaf node is a point on the stem where a leaf grows and contains concentrated hormones that promote root growth.

How long should the stem ideally be for rooting basil cuttings?

The ideal stem length for rooting basil cuttings is 4 to 6 inches. This length provides enough stem material for root development while maintaining a manageable size for easy propagation.

Why are my basil cuttings not rooting at all?

Basil cuttings might not be rooting because of the use of unhealthy cuttings, improper watering, insufficient light, and fungal diseases.

Why is the stem turning brown and rotting?

The stem turning brown and rotting can be due to overwatering, poor drainage, or fungal infections. 

How long will a basil plant live?

The basil plant can live up to a year. Within this time, it will grow from seed, bloom, produce seeds, and then die back.

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