There’s just something about herbs that’s irresistible. They’re easy to grow, tasty to eat, and if you're a gardener like me, you just can’t get enough of them. Did you know you don’t have to wait until your herbs go to seed to allow them to multiply? It's true! You can clone them from cuttings just as easily and have new baby plants in a few weeks. Read on to learn how to propagate herbs from cuttings, by layering and in water!
How to propagate herbs
A note on timing
The best time to propagate is in the spring. It can take a long time for cuttings to grow to a substantial size, so you’ll want to start when you have a long warm season ahead of you.
Propagating by layering
Some herbs don’t need to be multiplied by taking cuttings, but can instead be propagated by layering. This process works well with mint, lemon balm and thyme. Simply take a long stem, remove the lower leaves, and lay it on the ground, covering it with soil so only the top leaves poke out. Water the plant as usual and roots will begin to emerge from the stem. After a few weeks it can be cut from the original plant and moved elsewhere.
Propagating from cuttings
Herbs are a prime candidate for propagating from cuttings. It’s difficult to save seed from herbs and to grow new plants from those seeds. Propagation is easy and saves a lot of time.
Photo licensed via Creative Commons by Flickr user HealthGauge
- Sharp, clean scissors or pruners
- Potting soil
- A cup of water
- A small dish
- Rooting hormone
- Small pots or seed trays
Step 1: Make your cut
Select a stem that appears healthy and strong and is without flowers. Make the cut at an angle, about 4 inches long. Your cut should be just above any leaves. Remove the bottommost leaves.
Step 2: Dip
Dip the bottom of the cutting in the cup of water, then roll it around in a little rooting hormone. Be sure to put the rooting hormone on a dish first, as dipping the cutting right into the bottle could contaminate the contents.
Step 3: Plant
Place each cutting in its own small pot or seedling tray, burying about an inch beneath the potting soil. Water the cuttings and keep them in a place with bright light. Over the coming weeks make sure the soil is moist. Your cuttings should begin rooting and be ready for transplant in 4-6 weeks.
Propagating in water
Alternatively, some plants can be easily propagated by placing the cutting in a glass of water and leaving it on a bright windowsill. Taking the cutting is exactly the same as above, but instead of dipping it in rooting hormone and placing in a pot, you simply place it in a glass of water. The water should be changed every few days to keep it free of bacteria that could rot the stems. Many herbs propagated this way should start rooting in a week. When the roots are about ½ inch long, they can be transplanted to a pot or outdoors.
Ideal herb plants for propagation from cuttings:
You'll be surprised how easy it is to multiply the herbs in your garden.
You may even find that you enjoy it to the point of obsession. When your spouse gets upset that your windowsills are littered with plant-filled glasses, you can blame us for showing you the way.
Containers are ideal for growing herbs. Unlock the secrets to perfectly potted plants in Bluprint's FREE exclusive eGuide Success With Container Gardening .
What herbs have you had successfully propagated?