To celebrate spring and the arrival of the growing season here in the northern hemisphere,  I thought I’d share a recipe that has become somewhat of an institution, here at The Café.

I seldom repeat posts, but since we’ve gained thousands of new readers over the past year, I would be negligent to omit this wonderful little trick that will save you money and bring lots of fresh deliciousness to your culinary endeavors in these warm months to come. We’ve had fun adding tips we’ve learned and taking some spiffy new photos! If you’ve never tried this before, be sure to make this the season!

It’s a “recipe” for How to Propagate Basil from Cuttings.  You won’t believe how easy it is to generate an abundance of offspring from just one little basil plant. I’ve been multiplying my basil with this technique for years and honestly, it’s almost too good to be true.


Author: Chris Scheuer
Recipe type: Gardening, Herbs
  • 1 large, full, healthy basil plant, either potted or hydroponic*
  • kitchen scissors or a sharp knife
  • small glass containers
  • fresh tap water
1. Begin this process no more than 2-3 weeks before it’s safe to plant basil in your climate zone, which is usually when temperatures will consistently remain above 50˚ at night, the days are warm and sunny and there’s no danger of frost.

2. With a kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, cut 3-4 inch cuttings (they may end up being a bit longer depending on where the first leaf node is) right below a leaf node; this is where a leaf joins the main stem. Although your little cuttings will eventually sprout roots all the way up the stem, the leaf node is generally where the new shoots will begin.


3. Remove leaves off cuttings on the lower 2 inches. (I place any basil leaves that are left over in a small plastic storage container and store them in the refrigerator till I need them for cooking.)


4. If there are tiny leaves at the leaf node, don’t worry about these.

5. Place cuttings in small glass containers of water on a bright window sill. Choose an area that gets lots of light, but not direct sun, as the little plants could go into shock at this point with hot sunshine. You can put 4-6 cuttings in each glass. The cuttings might wilt a little at first and you may lose a few, that’s normal. You should have plenty that survive.


6. Watch the water levels carefully, adding water to keep stems immersed. Change the water every other day to keep it fresh. (Be sure it’s not too cold on your window sill. Basil loves warmth and doesn’t do well if it gets a chill.)

7. After 5-7 days you will begin to see some tiny white roots forming.


8. Each day more and more will appear. Let the roots grow to about 2 inches. Continue to change the water every other day. The process will take 10 days to 20 days, from start to finish.


9. You are now ready to plant your plants outdoors in a sunny spot with good drainage.  Keep the plants protected from super hot sun for a week or so until they get established. They’ll start growing new leaves and shoots soon and before you know it, you’ll have tons of fresh basil!