Growing basil from cuttings

My bounty of basil cuttings :)

I recently swapped plants with JT from the GCS forum and was thrilled to get cuttings of sweet and Thai basil. Yes, I gave up on the basil seeds that I had – obviously they weren’t viable any more. And of course I took the precaution of asking JT for extra cuttings, because I’m Singaporean and I’m kiasu:P Seriously, though, I haven’t had the best of luck growing herbs, so I figured it best to have more than I needed to allow for the casualties that would definitely follow.

JT had already cut and put the stems in water to start rooting them, but also took fresh cuttings of Thai basil to supplement my loot. It was a pretty hot day, and even though I got all the cuttings straight into water when I got back, the fresh cuttings wilted, and I thought they were goners. However, they perked up by the next day and I was heartened once again.

The first roots to appear on the sweet basil.

When I changed the water two days later, I decided to mix in some rooting hormone. This was despite being assured that basil roots well in water. What can I say… I really wanted these plants to survive! One incentive was because my tomato plants are getting bigger and I’ve heard that basil is a great companion plant for them. Another incentive was to have sweet basil at hand for when my sister makes her delicious bruschetta – because it’s not always in stock when we want it, and then we rush from one supermarket to another, searching for it. And now that I’ve experienced the pleasures and convenience of being able to harvest and cook veggies from our very own garden, I really want to be as self-sufficient as possible. So the basil must live and prosper!

Whatever the case was, the first roots grew out the following day. I heaved a sigh of relief and sat back to watch what would happen next.

Roots galore! Basil sure roots well in water.

Day 6 and boy, were the roots sprouting! If that part of the stem was in the water, roots would be appearing. I think I should have no issues with a lack of basil in our garden (knock on wood!). However, a couple stems of sweet basil had turned soft and dark, so I threw them out. How fortunate that I had asked for extra cuttings!

The cuttings that survive will be ready for planting by next weekend, so I’ve started my research on optimal growing conditions. As JT had advised, I need to plant them in a sunny spot, preferably on a well-drained raised bed. It will be interesting to see how and why basil and tomatoes are good companions.

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