Are you a fan of the taste and aroma of sweet basil? Imagine picking fresh leaves from a basil plant that you grew yourself, free from chemicals and pesticides, and adding them to your grilled cheese sandwiches, pizzas, and pasta. Growing and propagating sweet basil is a simple and easy process that anyone can do, and it’s a great plant to have on your kitchen windowsill.
Sweet basil is an annual herb, which means that the plant cycle lasts just one year. They germinate from seed, grow to maturity, and produce new seeds within one year. They are also quick to germinate from stem cuttings. Not only that, but basil also repels insects that attack tomatoes, making it a great companion plant for your tomato garden.
In this article, I will show you two different ways to easily grow and propagate sweet basil. Both methods are simple, cheap, and don’t require any special equipment or chemicals.
Method 1: Growing Basil from Seeds
You will need:
- Basil seeds
- Flat trays or pots
- Potting soil
- Spray bottle with water
- Clear dome or clear plastic bag
- Fill the pots or flat trays up to about ¾ with the potting soil and press down to form a level surface. Spray the soil with water.
- Sprinkle the basil seeds on the surface of the soil and gently press them down.
- Place a clear dome over the tray or place the entire pot or tray into a clear plastic bag. This serves as a mini greenhouse, keeping the temperature constant.
- Keep the pot or tray in a well-lit area, but not in direct sunlight.
- The seeds should germinate within 5 to 7 days. As soon as you see the plants emerging from the seed, remove the dome or plastic wrap.
- Place the pot or tray in a well-lit area, near or on a windowsill is a good place, again not in direct sunlight. If you find that your seedlings are becoming tall, leggy and weak, and tilting for the light, place your seedling tray outside where it is brighter but is shaded slightly from direct sunlight. This will fix the problem. 7. Keep the soil moist but not soaking, otherwise the roots will rot and the plant will die. If any water collects on the saucer under the pot, make sure that you empty it out because basil dislikes sitting in too much water.
- You can feed your plant at this stage with a weak solution of liquid fertilizer. I use nitrosol to feed the plants every two weeks.
- The plant can be left in the pot or transplanted into bigger pots or into your garden. Only transplant when the plant is big and strong enough to handle. Transplant in the early morning or late afternoon when it is cooler, so that the plant does not wilt too much. Plant it in slight shade so that it does not burn in the sun and mulch with grass clippings around the stem to keep the plant cool.
- Water every 3 days and try to water in the mornings, so that the water dries off the leaves otherwise the plant will get a powdery mildew which is not good for the plants.
Method 2: Growing Basil from Stem Cuttings
You will need:
- Healthy basil plant
- Sharp scissors or pruning shears
- Clear plastic bag
- Rooting hormone (optional)
- Choose a healthy basil plant with at least 3-4 inches of stem.
- Using sharp scissors or pruning shears, cut a stem that is at least 4 inches long, making sure to remove the leaves from the bottom 2 inches of the stem.
- Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone (optional)
- Fill a container with water and insert the cutting into the water.
- Cover the container with a clear plastic bag to create a mini greenhouse.
- Keep the container in a warm place with indirect sunlight.
- In about 1-2 weeks, roots will appear, and you can transplant the cutting into soil.
- Water the cutting frequently and keep the soil moist.
- Once the cutting is established, you can begin to harvest the leaves as needed.