How To Grow Basil From Cuttings

basil plants in the garden

By this time of year, Basil plants are pretty much finished producing their flavorful leaves and have gone to seed just before dying back for the winter. My poor basil. He’s looking awfully scraggly:

a small basil plant
a small basil plant

But don’t uproot them just yet! If you look closely enough, I’m betting you’ll find a few good looking clusters still trying to grow. Did you know that you can actually use these to propagate a whole new basil plant?

Taking cuttings from plants and rooting them is a fantastic way to speed up the process of growing a new plant. Here’s how to grow basil from cuttings…

First, snip off the top of a stem of basil:

snipping basil plant stem with scissors
snipping basil plant stem with scissors

Make sure you cut it below a leaf node (where a new little leaf is growing out of the elbow of a larger leaf):

basil plant after being cut
basil plant after being cut

Pinch off or cut the bottom two largest leaves:

pinching off basil plant
pinching off basil plant

It’ll look like this after you’ve removed the lower leaves:

basil plant after pinching
basil plant after pinching

Then place the cutting in a jar of water for about two weeks. That’s it!

basil cuttings in pot with water
basil cuttings in pot with water

Keep the water fresh, and you’ll have a nice set of roots growing in no time!

My mother-in-law had some purple basil growing, and since I didn’t have any seeds for purple basil, I asked her if I could pinch off a couple of hers. Here they are a little over 2 weeks after I cut them and put them in water:

Notice the lovely roots! They’re already ready to be potted up. I’ll probably keep them in the greenhouse, or on my kitchen windowsill to save until Spring comes and I can plant them outside.

Isn’t it great to know that you don’t have to start new plants from seed every time you want one?! I just love shortcuts like this!

Now I wonder what other herbs can be propagated like this. Any ideas?

11 thoughts on “How To Grow Basil From Cuttings”

  1. I have a friend who propagates nearly anything this way. Roses, herbs, trees… she’s amazing with this. She just takes a cutting and puts it in pot with soil and keeps it moist. I haven’t had the luck she’s had!
    I wonder if this could be done with store-bought herbs.

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  2. I have tried doing this so many times and never get roots. The end of the stem just rots. I always leave room so the ends don’t hit the bottom of the glass and leave t in a wndow for the light. What am I doing wrong? I do exactly what you posted. I now buy a BIG basile plant and use it all winter and do this with Parsley also. I have good luck doing that. thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Joanne,

      Hmmmm… This was my very first time attempting this with Basil, and it took off with no trouble at all. Are you changing the water frequently (every other day)? And did you make sure to cut beneath a leafnode, and is the leafnode submerged? Those are the first questions that come to mind. I wonder if city water vs. well water is an issue?? Perhaps, if you are using treated city water, there are too many additives to hinder the growth of a plant. I’d be curious to hear what type of water you are using!

      Reply
  3. My dad has been trying to do this for ages! After finally having some success, he realized the reason was a little worm beneath one of the leaves who was helping fertilize his water. So now he’s been trying this with all types of plants, and he always throws in a little llama poop into the mix!

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