EASY: Propagating Basil in your NYC windowsill

by Tuesday, December 29, 2015

48FC0DA3-ED3C-46FA-A9A8-2D085668F88FMid summer I bought a suffering basil plant off the hot streets of Harlem. There is a lovely fresh street market on Lenox between the train stop and my apartment. I admire it on the Fridays in which I get home before dark. I purchased a small cilantro plant as well as a basil plant that looked moderately healthy. They were $5 each, worst case scenario I’d hardly be out of any money and best case – I wouldn’t need to search for fresh basil each week in the grocery store.

After a few months of caring for both plants the basil was reformed and healthy – I can’t say the same for the cilantro, by the time I got back from St. Maartin in September, it looked like the weeds behind the projects. In the meantime, I came across an article with instructions on how to multiply a healthy basil plant, I had too many blooms for such a small pot so I figured i’d give it a shot.

Super Easy

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

Place each cutting in its own container of water – you can use anything that is deep enough that the stem is submerged and the bloom is exposed. I bought cute mini glasses from the dollar store and placed them on my windowsill.

Keep the water fresh and fill about an inch from the bottom, keeping the stem/root submerged. After a week or so you will begin to see some tiny white roots forming – they look like fine hairs.

More and more roots will appear. Let the roots grow to about 2 inches. Continue to change the water every other day. The process will take about 3 weeks from start to finish. After a month or so of growing I planted all of the clippings in a long windowsill planter. They each rooted very well and now I have a window full of endless basil in December. It’s one of my most favorite, useful and easy projects. Soon I will propagate again and begin giving away little clipping for others to begin their own basil process.

Hopefully – I will never buy basil again. Even in my NYC apartment.

You will need

  • 1 large, full, healthy basil plant
  • kitchen scissors
  • small glass containers
  • fresh tap water


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