How to clone your own herbs in your garden


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.

Other ideas

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.

27 Responses to “How to clone your own herbs in your garden”

  1. Teresia Says:

    Great post… I never knew it was just that simple. Thanks, I am off to take some cuttings now.

  2. Red Icculus Says:

    I can’t imagine how much hundreds of clones or waiting on seeds to sprout would have cost me in money or time. This is a well-written guide.

  3. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Teresia, let us know how it goes. I am also curious about what other plants can be cloned using only water. The list above is all I could find (or have tried myself), I like this method the most given it is pretty hard to kill the plants due to neglect…

    Red Icculus, that is a great point I forgot to mention in the post, compared to growing from seeds you can save weeks of being without your tasty herbs. Also can be done in a much more compact space which in my case is my limiting resource when starting seedlings.

  4. Charlotte Says:

    I haven’t tried cloning in water, but cloning in a rooting medium works for a LOT of plants. In addition to your list, I’ve definitely done pelargonium, bacopa, impatiens, ipomea, and even shrubs like elder and willow. (Willow definitely works in water, too – I’ve had them root all by themselves when I had them in a vase for decoration.)

  5. ML Says:

    Great post. I love herbs, too!
    I have been rooting from my “prizewinning” Rosemary plant for years…I have much luck rooting in a vase on the windowsill!
    Keep writing!

  6. Mary C. Says:

    you are posting the best stuff lately! thanks.

    A tip I just got the other day is to use a cheap fish aquarium air pump to aerate the water you’re rooting cuttings in, it keeps the water froms stagnating so you don’t have to contantly change it.

  7. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Charlotte, also a great way to allow your cut herbs to last a little in your kitchen.

    ML, great point to preserve genetics of especially good plants

    Mary C. great tip, same idea as what is done in hydroponics. Would be easier to include all cuttings in a single body of water, though curious about any bacteria cross contamination. Anyone have any ideas on this?

  8. anonymous person Says:

    This method has been used for decades to propagate cannabis. A lot of modern cloning (plant) technology comes from cannabis research.

  9. deniseinark Says:

    Did you know that the very thing that makes willow root so easily will also help your other plants root? The willow releases a hormone that encourages rooting, and if you put a small half-hard willow stick in each container of water, it will encourage the rooting even more. This works will all types of willows: traditional weeping, globe/curly willow, wild willows that grow along creek banks, even pussy willow. Cool, huh?

  10. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    I have heard that as well…now to think about what trail I saw those willows 🙂

  11. Growing basil indoors with a desk lamp Says:

    […] window office.  With a desire to have some plant life in my office, I grabbed a couple of the basil plants I cloned, dropped them in some potting soil, and positioned a desk lamp with a CFL bulb.  I can’t […]

  12. Jennifer Hamilton Says:

    For plants in water, I’ve always thrown a pinch of fertilizer (Miracle Grow, etc. You can mix it up in in a pitcher for more accuracy, before putting in the bottles)in as well. I always have a dozen or so bottles around the house trailing something, and this helps a lot. Of course, algae loves the fertilizer as well, so when I change the water, I pour boiling water into each bottle to sterilize, then rinse and put in ferti-water.

  13. Tom Says:

    Well I’ve just cut my sample from a basil plant. I just feel like an evil prof. cloning plants haha. How often should I replace the water. And can I have them in the sunlight? Or is that not necessary ?
    Thanks for this guide 🙂

  14. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Tom, you can wait until it starts to smell…but I opt to do it every 3-4 days. Also like Mary C. mentiones you can pump air into your container to not require changes nearly as long (basically until algae starts to form)

  15. Dave Says:

    I know its not an herb, but please… everyone… try cloning your tomatoes. They are SUPER easy.

  16. Maryann M. Says:

    Has anyone tried this with cilantro or dill? SO glad I stumbled across this site!

  17. rabs Says:

    How do you start tomatoes

  18. Susan Stamabguh Says:

    Great post and wonderful pictures! I’m one of those people that like to see the actual process in photos to make sure I’m doing it right. Words are great but photos make sure I don’t do something wrong. Thanks for this very informative post!

  19. 22 Unbelievably Clever Gardening Cheats Says:

    […] Grow Herbs For Free From Cuttings – You can propogate many herbs from cuttings – including basil, thyme, mint, oregano, lavender, lemon balm, rosemary, sage and many more. […]

  20. 22 Unbelievably Clever Gardening Cheats - Plash Says:

    […] Grow Herbs For Free From Cuttings – You can propogate many herbs from cuttings – including basil, thyme, mint, oregano, lavender, lemon balm, rosemary, sage and many more. […]

  21. Happy World Environment Day! | BIRDS NEST FOUNDATION Says:

    […] Another option is herb cloning (pictured above on the left).  Grow fresh basil, mint, rosemary and manying more herbs from their leaves by using this guide. […]

  22. Victoria Says:

    Sorry for being stupid but can someone let me know what ‘Rooting Medium’ is please? Thanks!

  23. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Rooting medium would be something like sand, vermiculite, peat moss, coconut coir, vermiculite, perlite. Even could use soil if it is very loamy though due to the possible presence of root-borne disease, soil may need to be sterilized…

  24. W. Says:

    Hey guys,
    I have begun to plant from scraps and FYI; a fully organic rooting hormone is cinnamon…It is great for herbs or edible plants and it has natural bacteria and fungus killers in it. Just dip your cuttings past the first node (where the leaves were removed) and put into your growing container/soil or medium… Even works in plain water!! Been using it for a few years and I won’t go back to store bought stuff!!!

  25. Megan Says:

    So do you dip the stem in ground cinnamon?

  26. Ramesh Says:

    I live in a Singapore which is a sub tropical climate.

    I am thinking of growing plants in containers as I don’t have any gardening space and I am very keen on the following plants/ herbs.

    1. Mint
    2. Cilantro
    3. Peppers / Chillies
    4. Roses / Lavender
    5. Lemon / Limes
    6. Curry Leaves (which we use in Indian cooking)
    7. Holy Basil.

    Question is that I am still new and I have not tried any planting, how do I go about doing it?

    Do I start with seeds or do I start with seedlings and how do I monitor if these plants or seedlings are growing or not?

    I have really no idea as to how to go about starting on these. Any help in detail will be much appreciated.


  27. How to CLONE Your Own HERBS for Your GARDEN | The Homestead Survival Says:

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