Updated: Aug 22, 2022
Basil is an herb that is usually used in cooking. It can also be grown as a garden plant. Basil grows well outdoors, but many people propagate basil indoors during the winter months to have fresh basil year-round. Propagating basil with water is easy and will give you great results! Read this blog post for step-by-step instructions about how to propagate basil using water, perlite, sand, and rooting hormone gel.
Propagate Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Sweet Dani Basil
All three of these methods work for the three types of basil. I also tried purple ruffles basil with all three methods and I was unsuccessful with all three methods for that variety of purple basil.
There Are Several Methods for Propagating Basil
One popular way to propagate basil is with water; another method uses perlite, and yet another uses sand. Rooting hormone gel can be used as well if you prefer this over liquid rooting hormones as I do! Let's look at each propagation technique in more detail now!
Propagate Basil Using Water:
Basil can be propagated by rooting cuttings in water.
You will need a clear glass of water, and some basil plants to propagate from. Take four-inch stem cuttings with two sets of leaves on each cutting. Push the bottom half-inch or so into the water until it is submerged just below one set of leaves - do not allow them to touch!
Basil Cuttings Wilting
The leaves will start to wilt due to lack of available oxygen, but that's okay; this is expected. Do not worry if the other set of leaves starts wilting too because they are getting enough water and nutrients through their stem connections with the rooted end in your glass!
Change out your rooting water every few days or so as it becomes cloudy from root growth. Once roots emerge on all cuttings, transplant them into pots filled with soil-based potting mix (no peat!) - one plant per pot should be plenty for now until you see how fast each type grows. If necessary, propagate more basil using these steps again at a later time when you need more plants to share among friends or family members who also enjoy cooking with fresh basil!
Propagate Basil Using Perlite:
You can propagate basil with perlite as well. The instructions are similar to those for rooting cuttings in water, but you will want to use a larger container filled with vermiculite or perlite instead of just a glass of water. I use a pot and place it into a bowl. I fill the pot with perlite and place it into the bowl and then add water to the bowl. Remove any dead leaves from your basil plant cuttings and remove the lowest set of mature leaves on each cutting as well. First I'll add rooting hormone gel onto the cutting stem and then I push the cuttings into the perlite and wait. Stand up several cuttings around the perimeter of the pot with only their top sets of leaves appearing above perlite level. The bare lower halves should remain submerged within moistened perlite at all times until new roots have formed along the stems.
Propagate Basil Using Sand:
You can propagate basil with sand as well! The directions are very similar to those for rooting cuttings in perlite:
You will want to use a larger container filled with sand instead of just a glass of water. I use a pot and place it into a bowl. I fill the pot with sand and place it into the bowl and then add water to the bowl. Remove any dead leaves from your basil plant cuttings and remove the lowest set of mature leaves on each cutting as well. First I'll add rooting hormone gel onto the cutting stem and then I push the cuttings into the sand and wait. Stand up several cuttings around the perimeter of the pot with only their top sets of leaves appearing above sand level. The bare lower halves should remain submerged within moistened sand at all times until new roots have formed along the stems.
Propagate Basil Using Rooting Hormone Gel:
Rooting hormone gel is used to propagate basil by dipping the cuttings in it before inserting them into potting soil. This method works well if you are only propagating a few plants at once, but I find that rooting hormones can get expensive. You can root basil quite easily without the rooting hormone.
However, I do like using a rooting hormone to propagate so that the cuttings will root quickly and easily. You can buy a small container of Rooting gel at your local garden center or you can purchase it online as well.
Basil is a great herb for beginner gardeners because it's so easy, fast-growing, and flavorful!
How long does it take? The amount of time is different depending on where you live, what type of container you use (plastic vs clay), and how soon after cutting/planting the leaves begin wilting. If there are no signs within two weeks that anything is wrong, then everything should be fine.
For me, it takes anywhere from two to three weeks. The basil is ready when the leaves are about an inch above the soil line and have begun to wilt just a tiny bit at their tips. With this method of propagation, you can propagate up to six plants in one cup of water!
Basil Root System
The basil root system consists of a taproot and lateral roots with the former branching out to form more. The lateral roots are responsible for the continuation of the growth process. The root system is often strong enough to be planted directly into the soil with little damage done to its development due to transplanting.
Transplanting Basil From Water to Soil
To propagate basil successfully you should use carefully selected healthy stock plants so as to propagate healthy plants. The basil root system should be kept intact as much as possible when transplanting from water to soil environment. The propagation of basil using cuttings is not difficult, but it requires some time for the roots to get used to the soil.
Transplanting basil from water to soil:
When the basil roots are well developed, you can transplant them into a pot. Fill it with rich soil. Keep the basil plant in a semi-shaded or shaded area. Water it regularly, but not overwater so as to drown the roots. If you are transplanting from a water environment ensure there is no exposure to direct sunlight for few weeks until they get acclimatized with soil conditions.
We hope you learned something new about basil and found these tips to be helpful. And now, we’d love for you to share what your favorite way is of growing or cooking with it! What are some ways that YOU have been propagating this herb? Comment below and tell us how you propagate basil in a unique way.
Here are the supplies I use from Amazon