Do you love herbs, but shudder at the price? Here’s some good news: With a single potted plant (or grocery store remains) you can easily grow your own by cutting from the original plant or bunch.
Clone these four herbs and get a bigger harvest, faster.
The garden favorite is very easy to propagate — which means creating a new plant from an existing plant. (Pesto fans, rejoice!) Cut the basil right below where two or three leaves join the main stem, usually from the top. That’s what’s called the “leaf node.” (Leave at least 5 leaves on the plant you cut from, and it will grow back.)
Clip leaves about 3 to 4 inches from the top, right below the leaf node, where the leaf joins the main stem. Remove any leaves that are in the area 2 inches from the bottom, and use those for cooking. (They will rot in the water.) Add the stems to a glass of water, and place in a sunny spot. Depending on the size of your glass, you can put 3 to 6 cuttings in each; just don’t over-crowd them.
In a week, you’ll see tiny white roots growing, but wait until the roots are 2 inches or so long before planting. Continue to change the water every other day. Once the roots are about 2-inches long, plant them in a spot with a lot of sun, since basil prefers heat. If you’re using a pot, make sure it has good drainage. Soon, the little cutting will start growing and rooting exponentially. Want more basil? Keep cutting! Just leave at least 5 leaves on the plant you cut from, and it will grow back.
Like basil, mint is easy to re-grow. From a healthy, strong green plant, or from a grocery-store produce bunch, cut a sprig about 4 inches long. Remove the lower leaves, add to a glass of water and sit on a sunny windowsill. Change the water every other day, and you’ll see roots in about a week. Once the roots get about a half-inch long, they’re ready to plant. It’s best to plant any mint in a pot, because a mint can, eventually, overtake your entire garden.
This herb is not only culinary, but is widely recognized as helpful for sleeping. It’s best to use fronds from a mature plant. You’ll need some peat-free compost, some organic rooting powder and a suitable pot.
Using branches that have never flowered allows the plant to concentrate its energy on rooting. Gently pull the branch from the stem, including a small bit of bark. Remove any leaves from the bottom and trim excess the “heel” of the bark, where the rooting happens. Put these in warm water while you ready the medium.
When you’re ready to plant, make a small well with your finger in the compost, dip the cut end into the rooting powder and add it to the pot. Water, and cover with a plastic bag, and seal. Leave it for four weeks, uncover occasionally to prevent fungal growth, until they start rooting. Once the plants are rooted, plant them into pots or your garden.
Like basil, this plant is easy to grow and re-grow, but it takes longer. Cut some from an existing plant, or root some leftover from some bought at the grocery or farmer’s market.
Cut and use the softer top tip area, 3 to 5 inches long (like what you buy at the grocery), and remove the bottom leaves. Then make a small diagonal cut on the bottom of the stem, and add to water. Keep watching and changing the water, and in a few weeks, roots will appear. Once the roots get a little longer, it’s ready to plant in a pot, or in your garden. Keep the soil a little moist, but don’t over-water it; do that and you’ll kill the plant.
You’ll always have them available if you buy a bunch or two at the grocery. Cut the white root ends about 4 inches or so long, and put them into a glass of water (don’t submerge them). Use the green parts as you normally would, and watch the white parts grow back green in a matter of days. You can keep clipping and using them, changing the water, or you can plant them when they begin re-growing. Repeat until you have a supply you can cut regularly.
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