How to Propagate Basil from Cuttings

Growing Basil from Cuttings

It’s a great day when you get to work with people you like and admire and today is one of those days! Steve Asbell from The Rainforest Garden is an amazingly talented illustrator so when he asked if I’d be interested in collaborating on an DIY post I jumped at the chance. To see more of Steve’s work check out his illustrations board on Pinterest.

how to grow basil from cuttings

In early summer I find myself opening a package of fresh basil and thinking that I wish my garden basil was ready. It seems so pricey to spent $2-$3 on a few sprigs of what grows into shrubs in August.  Never one to waste leftovers, I always snip cuttings from the store bought stuff to propagate my home crop. In the end it makes the dollars spent well worth it as those sprigs turn into bushes of basil destined for winter pesto and, dare I say, basil ice cream (it’s delicious!).

How to Propagate Basil from Cuttings

I took a few photos of the process while Steve illustrated the header and created this easy three-step tutorial.

How to Grow Basil from Cuttings

How to Grow Your Own Basil from Leftovers: 1. Snip the top of a basil stem with 4 sets of leaves growing then remove the 2 bottom sets of leaves from the stem.  2. Place the stem into a mason jar or shot glass of water and set in a sunny location. 3. When roots are visible transfer into a pot of soil and keep well watered while the cutting is establishing.

Check out this tutorial and more over at The Rainforest Garden. Steve has lots of cool projects like how to make a DIY Beach Terrarium and how to Make a Rainforest Drop.


Thanks for visiting!

About the Author : Stephanie Rose

A city girl who learned to garden and it changed everything. Author, artist, Master Gardener. Better living through plants.

View all posts by Stephanie Rose

  1. Pattie @ Olla-Podrida
    Pattie @ Olla-PodridaJune 28,12

    Get out of here!! You can grow basil from cuttings? How did I live so long without knowing this? I am always champing at the bit to have basil every spring, and stand, tapping my foot next to my basil plants, encouraging them to grow faster. I am going to try this this afternoon. I’m already at the point where I’m pinching off blossoms, so I’ll just pinch off a bit more. Great tip, and fun illustrations.

    • Stevie
      StevieJune 28,12

      Ha ha! Pattie, so glad that you found something useful. :)

  2. Melanie
    MelanieJune 29,12

    This is a great idea and I would copy it except I plant all my basil from seed and in our short I mean non existent summer (especially this year) it never grows into a bush only a basil spike and I have to harvest it by mid August before the frost kills it. …. Oh to live in a place where basil grows into a bush. :)

  3. Shari
    ShariJune 30,12

    I just discovered your site on Pinterest. Thank you for the great ideas! I was wondering if this can be done with cilantro as well? My basil is doing ok, but I’m getting very impatient with my cilantro and would love to get a headstart on growing more this year. Thank you!

    • Stevie
      StevieJuly 2,12

      Hi Shari, I haven’t tried it but it certainly seems possible. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out. I may just start this experiment myself.

  4. Lindabug
    LindabugAugust 21,12

    I’m rooting several different basils right now. Is it too late to plant it in the ground [7b] or can I move to a pot & then move indoors for the winter? Anyone had luck doing this? I tr.ied some cilantro earlier in the year but did not have any luck rooting it. Trying some rosemary now, but not seeing much happening with roots either.

  5. Debbie Van Gieson
    Debbie Van GiesonSeptember 25,12

    I usually buy a nice sized pot of Basil in late spring from our local Shop-Rite (supermarket). I split it into 3 sections-and repot 2, then transplant one in the garden when the weather is right for planting. I usually end up with a huge bush of Basil in the garden, and the ones in the pots get to be a nice size. I harvest all the basil from the garden before frost (in the Northeast), then bring in the two potted Basil plants, which I use all winter…and spring until I can do it all over again next year. I keep the basil in a northeast window that gets early morning sun, and as long as I don’t forget to water it too often it does very well. It also makes the dining room smell wonderful!

  6. Verna
    VernaOctober 3,12

    Can’t wait to get some basil. Lindabug, I have grown Rosemary from cuttings. I planted it directly into potting soil, water and keep moist until it startes to grow. Or you could cut an empty soda bottle in half, use the bottom for a dome. It will self water from the moist soil.

  7. Brent Crubaugh
    Brent CrubaughJune 22,13

    Thanks for this awesome information! Much better than letting fresh basil go bad in the fridge when I don’t have cause to use it.

  8. Hometownbeautiful
    HometownbeautifulMarch 9,14

    Hi! I love your site. Found this article to be super helpful! I linked to it on a recent post about basil on my site!!

  9. Josh
    JoshMarch 12,14

    Hi, I found your website last week and have been sitting a cutting in water and it gets about 6 hours of sun per day. How long does it take for them to start sprouting roots? It has been about a week and no sign of them although the basil is looking very healthy and starting to flower.

  10. Stephanie
    StephanieMarch 12,14

    Josh, cut the flower off the top and move the basil out of the sun. You want to encourage the roots to grow not the flowers. You should see them soon I suspect. Please keep us updated.

  11. Farj
    FarjApril 1,14


    I was wondering if you might know this..
    I have some basil that went bitter in 3 months .. big bush, ready to flower but nothing yet but the tastes has gone really bitter
    so I got some cuttings that are rooted already
    I am wondering if the cuttings are considered to new plants and will I get rid of the bitter taste in the new plant? are some species more prone to becoming bitter faster than other?
    does 3 month sound like a normal useful life of a basil plant?
    Thank you

  12. Farj
    FarjApril 1,14

    @Shari Re: Cilantro

    I have tried… Cilantro is very hard to mange like that..
    I have had better luck growing cilantro from seeds.. the one I try to root all died sooner or later .. they lasted couple of weeks in the water though
    which makes me think how stupid of me to buy herbs and keep in the fridge.. just put it in a cup of water outside of fridge.
    of I have done this with romaine lettuce too

    3 heads in the fridge 3 head in water.. fridge heads started to turn brown faster

  13. stevie
    stevieApril 1,14

    Hi Farj, so yeah, it’s not really how long you have the plant, it’s when it starts to mature and bolt that it goes bitter. That can happen if the plant is under stress from lack of water, nutrients, room, sun, etc. So you can have a one month old seedling bolt or a huge bushy plant full of tender leaves last for months. I always cut the tops leaves off the basil often throughout the season making it bushier and full of young leaves.

    I would say this is not the best plant to start cuttings from. I’m not certain that the new plants won’t go back to the tender sweetness that they once had, but a good rule of thumb when propagating is to cut from your strongest and best thus sending along the best genes. I hope this helps!

  14. Farj
    FarjApril 2,14

    Thanks Stevie,

    Stress is the ding ding ding correct answer in my case..
    the plant was moved to a new hydroponic system (from another hydroponic system) and for 1-2 weeks was in bad conditions and got root rot.. which is now coming back from..
    it looks beautiful and full .. I feel bad to take it out .. the taste got better but not back to the sweetness as before .. I have fixed the stress issue for a week now.. I guess I will give it another week before giving up..


  15. Migen
    MigenJanuary 25,15

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    igboost.netMay 16,16

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  17. Living Colour Candles
    Living Colour CandlesOctober 27,17

    I loved this post! Great job, I read your blog occassionally and you’re always creating some of the best stuff.
    I shared this with my followers on facebook and my followers loved it!

    Keep up the good work :)

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