Basil, the herb, has always been a big favorite with me. It’s so aromatic and 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 this herb late in the winter to brighten your windowsill and be able to get your basil producing earlier in the garden.
I did this for garden basil regularly over 40 years ago when we were young newlyweds, but had totally forgotten about it! It’s an old time way to perpetuate basil from one year to the next (without seed). Did you know that you can cut 5-6 inches of the pretty leafy tops off of the thicker stems, put them in water, and watch them grow roots?
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.
Stretch your money, even in little ways
If I’m already buying it fresh for a tomato dish out of season, it seems wasteful to sow it from seeds or buy plants later when I can start a few plants for my garden in the window this way!
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 or glass 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!
I will also show you how to re-grow celery from cuttings, as well as green onions on your windowsill. As spring draws near, and there is very little green to be found (in our climate, at least), it is fresh and pretty indeed!
Once planted outside, basil will quickly grow into a small shrub and easily repay you with enough fresh, silky leaves to make into prestos, use in orzo-stuffed tomatoes (see recipe), or snip onto an heirloom tomatoes and fresh Mozzarella caprese salad.
This is fabulously fresh and oh, so Italian! Drizzle with balsamic and basil-infused olive oil (see below)!!
During the growing season of summer, you can also infuse the leaves into olive oil for several days, then drizzle onto crusty bread warm from the oven with cheese. That is one of my favorite flavors of infused olive oil!
Acclimatizing Your Basil Starts For the Garden
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 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. Greek basil is on the left below.
Basil has a rich history of having many health benefits. Dr. Axe has a good list.
And rooting basil is a great first science lesson for your little people to do!
“As a gardener, I’m among those who believe that much of the evidence of God’s existence has been planted.” ~Robert Brault