Can You Propagate Basil?
In other words, can you turn one basil plant into 20? Absolutely!
Propagating herbs is something I call plant magic because it's so easy and you end up with free plants. Now, you can follow these steps with cuttings from any type of basil to create new plants, but I'm going to focus on African blue basil. The reason is because most basil varieties—like Thai basil and sweet basil—are extremely easy to start from seed. African blue basil plants, however, are sterile (they're hybrids), so true African blue basil seeds do not exist.
That means you can only create more African blue basil plants by rooting cuttings. Fortunately, African blue basil is one of the easiest herbs to propagate.
If you're ready to perform some plant magic with your basil, gather your supplies and let's get started.
SUPPLIES NEEDED FOR THIS PROJECT:
- Organic basil from the grocery store or garden
- A glass of fresh water
- Some pruners or some really sharp scissors
- A shallow cup
- A small container filled with potting mix (needed later)
Step One to Propagate African Blue Basil
Select the Basil Stems to Root
Buy a single bunch of organic African blue basil from the grocery store before following these simple steps, or take some fresh cuttings from healthy plants in the garden. Cuttings should be about four inches long.
Select the best stems to turn into plants by sorting through your bunch and finding the healthiest, freshest-looking leaves.
Step Two to Propagate African Blue Basil
Prepare the Stems for Propagation
Clear the stems by removing the lower leaves on the bottom inch or so of the cuttings. This will allow the plant to focus on growing roots. Using clean pruners or sharp scissors, cut the stem at a bit of an angle.
Your stem may look a little bare now, but don't worry. It'll grow new leaves soon.
Step Three to Propagate African Blue Basil
Place Basil Cuttings in Water
Put trimmed and cleaned cuttings in a glass of fresh water. You want to make sure the leaves are hanging out all nice and dry at the top, but that the stem is nicely submerged since that’s where the roots will emerge.
Place your glass near a spot with filtered sunlight, somewhere that doesn't get too hot or cold.
Keep the cuttings in the water for ten to 14 days, replacing the water every two to three days.
Remove molded or yellowing leaves and monitor the cuttings as they root.
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Step Four to Propagate African Blue Basil
Prepare a Container to Grow Basil
Once you observe the formation of roots, prepare a 6"- to 12"-wide pot with organic potting mix. Learn more about the best containers and soil mix for growing herbs in our free online herb growing guide.
Water the mix thoroughly before transplanting.
Step Five to Propagate African Blue Basil
Grow Basil in a Pot
Dig a hole the depth of the cutting and at least twice the width of the cutting. I like to use a dibber, but you could also use a chopstick to make a little hole.
Place the cutting into the new pot and water in well.
Ensure the re-potted cutting stays well-watered by watering every two to three days. Keep in a spot with filtered light without extreme temps.
Baby your new plants for the next couple of weeks as they adjust to life in soil instead of water.
Monitor your African blue basil plants as they settle in, and enjoy your summer herbs through the entire winter season! In the spring, you can move your basil plants outside to a semi-shaded area once the threat of frost has passed.
The best part is, you can keep taking cuttings from your plants and propagating them all over again.
Fresh new African blue basil plants for your garden or windowsill are really that easy. I’m so excited for you to grow this delicious herb in your space and have that freshly harvested taste all year long.
Ready to take on mint? Here's how to perform a little plant magic and propagate mint in three easy steps.
Thanks for bringing back the kitchen garden with me one herb at a time!
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