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September 01, 2014

How to propagate and grow basil from cuttings

If you have several sweet basil plants, you can use 1 or 2 of them as your mother basil plants from which you propagate numerous others. By following these steps, you could train your mother sweet basil plants to multiply its number of stems from which new clone cuttings can be created.

To propagate sweet basil from cuttings, you will need:
scissors, sterilised cleaned with rubbing alcohol, cups, water, roughly 1 to 2 weeks, a sunny window sill in which the basil cuttings can be placed

How I successfully propagate sweet basil from cuttings
  • Select the healthiest looking stem tips that do not have flowers. You may prepare several sweet basil cuttings at the same time
  • Cut about 3 to 4 inches off the top
  • Cut just above a set of leaf nodes. In my personal experience, cutting at this point speeds up the rooting process as in the image below.
  • Water the mother plant (to aid in her regeneration)
  • Gently remove all of the leaves with the exception of roughly 3 of the highest and smallest ones
  • Leave the stem in clean water by a windowsill. You may use a single container for several cuttings, as long as they are not overcrowded
  • Be sure to change the water daily or every other day to prevent bacteria-related stem rot. The water should always cover roughly half the length of the stem where roots should grow
  • How to propagate and grow sweet basil from cuttings
    Day 4
  • Depending on your climate, roots are likely to start sprouting after approximately 4 days. (I noticed small roots on my basil cuttings after only 4 days)
  • Remove the seedling from the water when the roots are roughly 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. Although the seedlings will continue to root easily if left in the water for longer, the roots become very entangled if and difficult to separate if you are preparing several cuttings in the same water container 
  • Plant the seedlings individually in 3- to 4- inch plant pots and keep in indirect light until they are strong enough to be planted directly into the ground or into a larger pot
  • For drier climates, mulch around the base of the plant, without allowing the mulch to touch the stem


General sweet basil plant care
  • For bushier sweet basil plants, pinch off the tops of the plants, especially just above leaf nodes. This will encourage the plants to branch out
  • The pH should be roughly 6.0 to 6.5
  • Water the plant frequently enough to prevent the soil from becoming dry
  • Fertilize with rich regular or worm compost when the foliage turns light green
  • Harvest as early and as much as you like as long as you never remove more than 1 / 3 of the foliage


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