Basil, the herb, has always been a big favorite with me. It is so pretty in the garden, and there are many fun and delicious ways to use it in the kitchen. If you are a basil-lover, too, you can enjoy rooting basil late in the winter to brighten your windowsill and be able to get your basil producing earlier in the garden.
I did this over 30 years ago when we were young newlyweds, but had totally forgotten about it! Did you know that you can take the pretty little leafy tops off of basil (5-7″), put them in water, and watch them grow roots? Rooting basil is a great little science lesson for your little people to do!
“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.” ~Robert Brault
When I searched online for ‘Basil from cuttings’, I found you can indeed start it from the store-bought herb as I remembered, so I decided to look for it in the grocery’s refrigerated section where they often have fresh cut herbs, basil included.
If I’m already buying fresh basil for a tomato dish in the spring, it seems crazy to sow it from seeds when I can take some of those those tops, strip off a few of the bottom leaves, and place them into a little vase in the sunny window. You can always sow some additional seed outside once the weather is warmer if you feel you don’t have enough.
Directions for Rooting Basil:
It is as easy as:
Snipping the bottom two sets of leaves off of a basil stem and leaving the top two or three sets of leaves on the stem
Place that stem into a glass canning jar of water
Place it in a sunny window
When roots are visible, transfer into a pot of soil and keep watered while the cuttings get established
You can also place directly outside into the fertile soil of your garden once the weather is quite warm and all danger of frost is past. Frost will kill basil!
Betty Basil keeps Cecil Celery company until they are ready to move to their new garden home for the summer. They seem to be considered good garden companions as they both do well near tomatoes.
Basil will quickly grow into a small shrub and easily repay you with enough fresh silky leaves to make into prestos, use in stuffed tomatoes (see recipe below), or snip onto fresh tomato and Mozzarella salad.
Putting your starts outside in the sun for short periods in a protected area (think wind blowing your glass jar over) to harden them off before planting in spring is a good idea. You can also root more basil tops inside in the fall to extend the season. You will be a master gardener before you know it!
If you decide to grow Basil from seed there are many different varieties named after the leaf type, flavors such as cinnamon, anise, and lemon, and colors to choose from! The choices are seemingly endless.