Grow Basil from Cuttings
A Simple Way to Have Fresh Basil Year-Round!
Fresh basil is the quintessential flavor of summer, is it not? If the thought of frost has you pining for this luscious culinary herb, consider taking a few cuttings from a plant in the garden and starting a plant to grow indoors.
Creating a brand-new basil plant from cuttings is surprisingly easy!
You can even use fresh basil from the grocery store. My grocery store carries “live” basil, which is a bouquet of rooted cuttings in a miniature biodegradable pot ensconced in a cellophane sleeve.
You will get better results starting a new plant with cuttings than if you were to dig up a mature plant from the ground and pot it up for winter. In frost-free climates, basil can grow as a perennial (meaning it can live several years); while in temperate climates a frost brings an end to basil.
A mature plant from the garden has lived its life. It is flowering or has already flowered and produced seeds, which signals that the life cycle is complete.
The best time to take cuttings from basil is while the plant is still vital and green (or purple if a purple basil variety). In my area of southern Oregon, August through September is ideal.
A small jar, half-pint or pint size
Small pruners or scissors, optional
A healthy basil plant
1. Fill the jar with cold water and grab your pruners, if you have a pair. Otherwise, scissors or your fingers will work nearly as well.
2. Choose a healthy basil plant. Find a good-looking green stem with two to four sets of healthy leaves. The leaves should appear fresh and shiny, not dull with browned edges. Snip it off about three to four inches (7.5 – 10 cm) long. You will want three to four cuttings.
3. Pinch off any lower leaves and place in the jar of water. You only need two to three sets of leaves on the stem; any that are submerged in water will rot so either take them off or pour off enough of the water so that the leaves are above.
4. Set the jar of basil cuttings in a sunny window with at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. Once a week pour out the water and replace it with fresh water. Discard any slimy, brown, or moldy cuttings. In a week or possibly two, fine white roots will begin to develop.
5. Within about four to five weeks, there should be a healthy tangle of roots in the jar. It’s time to pot it up! Place the cuttings in a 4 to 6-inch pot with a drain hole and add organic potting soil. Put a saucer under the pot and find a sunny spot for your new basil plant to live.
Enjoy Fresh Basil ~
Your basil plant will produce small amounts of leaves, enough to garnish your plate of spaghetti and add flavor to tomato dishes, not enough for pesto. Remember to pinch leaves from the tips and allow the lower leaf nodes to develop. Later you can take a few leaves from along stems as stems grow woody with age.
Enjoy your harvests and the treat that is fresh basil, even when there is frost on the pumpkin vines or snow on the pines.
Dishes Made More Delicious with Fresh Basil ~
Here are links to a few of my favorite seed companies, in case you are interested in growing basil from seeds.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. offers 21 varieties of basil seeds at the time of this writing (August 7, 2021) https://www.rareseeds.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=basil
Burpee Seed Co. isn’t far behind, with 14 varieties of basil https://www.burpee.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=basil+seed
High Mowing Seed Co. https://www.highmowingseeds.com/
Azure Standard (this is my affiliate link) https://www.azurestandard.com/?a_aid=r9AO3OhbYm