Each thanksgiving I always end up buying rosemary and sage for our turkey dinner always having thoughts that I should plant some next spring…winter happens then of course I forget until next thanksgiving…
This year I got a bit more proactive and decided to just start the plants now using cuttings from fresh herbs I purchased from the grocery store. I have done this before with mint and actually have done again if you look carefully in the same picture above since I remembered bringing some mint with me when I moved…though no where to be seen…maybe it is possible to kill mint who knew…
So process to
clone take a cutting from an herb usually goes something like this:
Step #1: Get some herbs from your grocery store…or if you notice a nice neighbor with some growing in their yard you can ask nicely if you can take a cutting
Step #2: Cut the stem just under the node (place where new leaves are coming out…I typically cut at around a 45 degree angle with theory there is more surface area for root growth but probably doesn’t matter all that much.
Step #3: Remove all leaves except last couple and those cut about half of them off. This ensures that energy is going towards root growth and should help with moisture loss.
Step #4: Couple ways you can go at this point…you can just drop them in water and check on them every few days and make sure they still have water…or you can plant them directly in soil and possible water a couple times a day to keep soil from drying out…prone to being easily distracted I pretty much 100% go with option 1 but if you were creating dozens of these then soil may be a better option.
Step #5: (Optional) To preserves moisture you can place a plastic bag over the glass or even better get one of those shower caps you took from the motel and really had no good use for and place that on top. I normally skip this step since I live in Western Washington high humidity has some advantages…
Step #6: Wait a 2-3 weeks until the plant develops some pretty solid roots then transplant into some soil and be sure to keep well watered until it gets established.
Hopefully if I did all this correctly I will not be buying Sage and Rosemary next year…oh and for Rosemary you might be able to tell, I cheated and just paid the extra dollar and got a live plant with its own roots already…though probably will still take a couple cuttings for “fun” and backup just in case…and not a bad edible ornamental plant for the yard if I end up with a couple extra…
Cloning herbs is an inexpensive and fast way to expand your herb garden. This is also a great method to possible give or receive (with permission of course) from friends/neighbors.
Unlike cloning other organisms, plants have a much simpler procedure you can do in your kitchen.
1. Take cutting from mother plant. Cut a stem of total length of about 4-5 inches, cutting 1/2 inch above a leaf node. The leaf node is where the leaves attach to the stem. You want to make this cut at 45 degrees with a sharp knife/razor blade/shears.
2. Remove 2-3 sets of leaves. You want the plant to concentrate of growing roots rather than leaves so you need to trim off the sets of leaves that will be in water/rooting medium.
3. Start rooting process. You can apply a rooting hormone if you wish but I have had great results without needing to do this. Depending on the type of herbs you need to place your cutting in simply a container filled with water or some sort of rooting medium (Coir/Perlite/Coarse Sand/Rooter Plugs)
Herbs to start in water:
Basil, Thyme, Mint, Oregano
Herbs to start in Rooting Medium:
Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Sage, Santolina, Savory, Scented Geraniums, Stevia
Water Only Care. With the water only option you should change the water every couple days and ensure that the roots are always under water. You should see roots in a week to a week and a half. After the roots are well established you can then plant outdoors or to a 4 inch pot.
Rooting Medium Care. You will need to water the plants daily to ensure there is adequate moisture. After a couple weeks you should see that the cutting has a well established root system and can be transplanted to pot or outdoors.
I use this technique to save some money by purchasing a single plant at the my local garden center and then cloning to fill the space to get the harvest I am looking for. One other idea is to plant fresh herbs purchased from the grocery store, success may vary but should be fun to try…
This is also a great technique to extend your fresh basil throughout the winter. At the end of your outdoor season take a couple cuttings and place in water indoors. Use the fresh basil and when the plant appears to weaken take another cutting and repeat the process. Fresh basil all winter and a good basil plant ready for next spring.