I’m having to redo this entire post since the last time the post was eaten by the interwebs. (Thank you trusty interweb,) but, I am finally getting around to redoing the post after myself and Miss A and Mighty M where sick this past week. It was a dozy of a week in our household. Did I mention one of the days I was trying to scrape those fancy old school flower grips off the bottom of our guest tub when my son, Baby E decided my phone needed a bath? in the toilet? yep. One of those weeks.
I made this post originally for a friend, who asked how I make the most from my herbs from one plant each season. I start around September through November to get clippings ready to give as Christmas gifts to family members. I go thrifting throughout the year and find mixed matched glasses or coffee mugs I can have the kids decorate to send the clippings home to each family member in (I will do a future post on how we decorate the mugs with sharpies, very neat and inexpensive gift for family members, my family is huge coffee and tea drinkers they appreciate a new one of a kind mug, that the kids and I have decorated.)
You can also do this with Rosemary and many other herbs too. Rosemary does take about two months to actually root however, so you may want to start Rosemary in late September, if you are not doing this for Christmas gifts then please, feel free to do this in Spring when the plants will flourish better in the right weather conditions. I may add that I am not a planting expert. This is what works for me and our family.
What does Propagating mean?
When I was looking up ways to make more basil from clippings I learned it had a name. Basically, propagating means you can have the plant reproduce from it’s own clippings.
So the question is: How to make the most of one Basil plant?
When I get home I do not replant the basil right away, instead I spend about 10 minutes trimming all the stems of the mother plant back until I have about 3-4 inch clippings from each separate stem of the mother. I then take each stem I have clipped, and trim off the bottom inch of leaves from the clipping. I then fill a cup with about an inch of water and drop the clippings in. Basil usually takes about a week to root from clippings. I can typically get about 10-15 new basil plants from just one mother plant! I make sure that the plants are in a semi sunny window and I change the water every other day to make sure there is no strange furry growth on the plant from sitting in still water for to long.
When I go to plant the mother plant since I have trimmed it back, it tends to root better since the plant is not struggling to root in ground, plus feed and bring water to all of its stems.
When should I plant the trimmings?
I typically wait until the roots are about inch to two inches long. This insures that when my family receives the plant or I plant the Basil the roots are able to hold in ground and let the new plant take off. Sometimes the new clippings will flower, make sure you pinch the flowers or pluck them completely off the plant, they will turn into leaves if you pinch them back. You can also find uses for the actual flower, it smells strongly of basil but has a more bitter taste when using it for cooking. I just choose not to bother with it and pluck it completely from the new plant clippings. I also read that the more the plant flowers or you decide to just leave the flowers the weaker your plant will taste. I am not to sure on the truth of this, but, I don’t want to take chances and I do not want the clippings to take their energy to build flowers, since I am using the plant in the future for of course, its leaves.
If you do not wish to do this for Christmas gifts I would strongly recommend getting your plant in the spring. I am in Florida so I can typically plant my herbs year around give or take a few months out of the year. I will plant my mother plant in January or February when our chance of frost is over, or again in the early fall. When we moved in to our new home, we lucked out on having an already thriving Basil and Rosemary plant that I was able to Propagate these little guys from.
Propagating Basil is really this simple.. it also makes for a really inexpensive, useful thoughtful gift for the holiday season.