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How to propagate basil (never buy basil again!)

Want to turn one basil plant into many basil plants? Check out this super simple tutorial on how to propagate basil and root your plant in water to create tons of new plants!

Basil is one of my very favorite plants – in the summer, we grow large planters of it in the yard.

It’s delicious to eat, smells great, and is really, really easy to grow.

In the off season, I buy small basil plants from the grocery store. However, they get used up really quickly.

So, I decided to figure out how to propagate basil plants.

potted basil plant

I have propagated a ton of plants! I have really mastered this process through trial and error.

I was pleased to discover that propagating basil was super easy, and that it grew roots really quickly.

You don’t need special tools or even a particularly green thumb to propagate basil. All you need is scissors and a jar of water!

Be sure to check out my DIY wall mounted test tube propagation station!


How to propagate basil

Materials needed:

  • Basil plant
  • Sharp, clean scissors
  • Jar of water

Steps to propagate basil in water:


Identify the stem that you want to take a cutting from. It’s great to take the top half of a tall, top heavy stem.


Use your scissors to cut the stem off right below a leaf node – which is where the leaves pop out of the stem.


Remove any leaves that will fall into the water.


Place the stem in a jar of fresh water.


Place in indirect sunlight.


Change the water every other day to be sure it stays clean.

Once the roots are at least 2 inches long, you are ready to plant the cuttings.


Prepare a pot filled with potting medium such as garden soil.


Water every other day and set in an indirect sunny location.

rooted basil cuttings

Need a spot to hold all your cuttings? Here’s how to DIY make a test tube wall mounted propagation station!

Yield: 1 basil cutting

How to propagate basil in water


Propagation is a fantastic way to turn one plant into many plants. Basil is super easy to propagate in water!

Active Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute
Difficulty easy


  • Basil plant


  • Sharp clean scissors
  • Jar of water


  1. Select a stem to take a cutting from - I like to cut long, top heavy stems first.
  2. Use scissors to cut just below a leaf node. This is where leaves pop out. Your cutting should be 2-4 inches long.
  3. Remove any lower leaves that would fall in the water.
  4. Place in jar of water.
  5. Place the jar in a sunny window. Replace the water every few days to keep it clean.
  6. Once the roots are 2inches long, you can plant them in soil.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Propagating basil cuttings in water is a really easy process!

Can you propagate basil?

Yes! It is super easy – and free – to propagate a basil plant!

Can basil be rooted in water?

Rooting basil cuttings in water is a super simple way to propagate this plant.

Can you root basil in soil?

You can follow this process but use very moist soil instead.

I have found it easiest to loosely cover the cutting and soil with a plastic bag to form a mini greenhouse and retain moisture.

However, I believe that rooting in water is the easiest way to propagate basil plants!

What temperature of water should I use?

Root your cuttings in room temperature water! Anything too cold or too hot could shock your plant.

Where to cut basil to propagate?

For best results, you want to cut right below a “node”. A node is a bump that leaves grow out of.

Nodes are what will grow roots so having one at the end of your cutting increases the odds that you will grow roots at the bottom of the cutting!

basil cuttings on a table

When to propagate basil?

You can propagate fresh basil at any time – any season, any time of year. Growing basil works indoors any time!

When do you plant propagated basil?

When rooted cuttings are 2-3 inches long, you are ready to plant your basil stems.

Do I need to use rooting hormone to propagate basil?

No. Rooting hormone may help your plant grow roots faster. But, basil roots so easily and quickly that I do not bother!

How to replant basil

Basil often becomes root bound, meaning the pot is too small for it’s roots.

Remove the plant from the pot and gently use your fingers to separate and loosen the roots.

Then, add the plant to a larger pot with new soil.

basil cutting rooting in a test tube of water

How long does it take basil cuttings to grow roots?

It takes 2-3 weeks to go from a fresh basil cutting to having roots that are 2 inches long and ready to plant in soil! This may vary slightly depending on the time of year and the amount of sunlight that your cuttings are getting.

Do I need a grow light to propagate basil?

No, you don’t need a grow light – a sunny window sill will do the trick. However, if you don’t get a lot of light in your home, and you have a grow light on hand, you can surely use it.

What can you do with basil cuttings?

You have two options for basil cuttings:

  1. Chop up the basil leaves and eat them
  2. Place the stem in water and allow it to grow roots

Basil cuttings make a great hostess gift! Cut a few stems, place them in a small clear jar of water, tie a ribbon around the jar, and bring it to a party!

cutting a stem off a basil plant

Can you replant basil from store?

Yes – you can replant whole basil plants from the grocery store in a pot or planter.

In fact – basil plants from the grocery store usually have a ton of plants squeezed into a too-small container.

Your best bet is to ditch the plastic container, pull out the ball of roots and soil, and gently divide the plant up.

Plant the sections far apart in a flower bed or in separate pots to really make your one cheap plant go a long ways!


Can you root a basil cutting that comes as a garnish from a restaurant?

If there is enough stem, then yes! I know that some restaurants sever meals with a garnish of basil on top.

Wrap it in a napkin and bring it home and try to root it! It will most likely work!

how to propagate basil

What are the common types of basil?

  • Sweet basil
  • Genovese basil
  • Thai sweet basil
  • Purple basil
  • Lemon basil
  • Lime basil
  • Lettuce basil
  • Green ruffles
  • Holy basil
  • Cinnamon basil
  • African blue basil
  • Cardinal basil
  • Greek basil
  • Spicy globe basil
  • Summerlong

Any more questions about propagating basil plants?

Thanks for reading!

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