10. August 2021

How to: Planting basil cuttings

I skip the water phase when I take care of my basil cuttings. Straight into the ground is my more my style. Basil cuttings produce many plants and leaves, and you can keep harvesting them for a long time. This is how I propagate my basil with the help of cuttings!

Närbild på en planta basilika. Basil cuttings, close-up of basil plant.

A basil plant branches itself nicely when the top is cropped, and it gets a lot bushier this way too.


Since I have plenty of space in the polytunnel this year, I decided to grow a lot of basil. We eat it primarily fresh
on sandwiches, in salads and sauces. If we're having a particularly good year, I get enough to put in the freezer too. I'm going to write more about this later. The plants grow in pots in the polytunnel, but I also keep some in the beds as a sort of "filler" between melons and peppers.

Somehow, the more basil we have, the more we want. A great way to propagate basil is to simply use basil cuttings. A lot of people cut the tops of the plants and then put them in water. There, the cuttings root quickly and can then be planted in soil. But I actually think it's easier to plant the cuttings directly into the ground. It saves me a bit of work.


Närbild på en stickling som jag håller i handen. Basil cuttings, close-up of a basil cutting in my hand.

The cutting doesn’t have to be very tall to become a nice new plant. Make sure there's only one leaf pair that can be pinched off and then end up in the soil.

Do this:

• Fill the pots and trays with soil. Water in advance if the soil is very dry.
• Cut off the top of a basil twig just below a pair of leaves.
• Peel off the bottom leaves along the stem.
• Make a small hole in the soil and put down the cuttings in it.
• Water with a small sprinkler.

Keep the cutting warm and moist

The basil cuttings need warmth to set roots quickly and thrive. I have planted the summer cuttings in a 35-
cell plugboard and put the whole tray in a large plastic crate with a lid in the polytunnel. The lid is
left ajar during the daytime and closed at night. This way, the cuttings are always warm and moist.

On the first day, the basil cuttings may slouch a bit from the shock of having been cut from the mother plant. But they recover quickly a few days after being planted.  This method of propagating basil works really well and a lot of new plants grow in a short period of time. It's much faster than growing basil from seeds!


Plastback med sticklingar i. Plastic container with basil cuttings.

My tray with cuttings four days after they were planted.

Plant the basil cuttings or not?

Depending on how the season develops, the plants will either remain in the plug tray or get moved to new pots. Fall can be super-warm and long (you never know beforehand) and if so, I'll put the basil in individual pots. Should it get cold very quickly, I may just cut the leaves once or twice and put them straight into the freezer.

Since basil usually grows eagerly indoors as pot plants, it doesn’t matter if you have a lot of plants. Make sure to take some cuttings for yourself and you’ll have plenty of leaves to harvest later!
/Sara Bäckmo

3 responses to “How to: Planting basil cuttings”

  1. I’m Greek so you know we use a lot of Basil. Increase the history of this plant means king. And it got its name because they said it was growing at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion. Anyway it makes a good story, because none of us was there to witness it, right? Anyway I grow it with my tomato plants. If I see that any kind of insects have hit those Basil leaves, I check all my tomato plants to make sure that they are all OK. Also it smells wonderful, inside the kitchen on the windowsills, and also outside in the garden. Since it cost nothing to grow, I grow a lot of it to give away to neighbors and family.

  2. SUSI PATON says:

    also easy doing the same putting in water keeping leaves dry. Only takes a week or two to get roots and then plant in soil. Love basil and make a lot of pesto to freeze to have for rest of year. Live in Scotland and have 2 window box sizes of basil to keep me going! Make 300g basil pesto batches. Also grow a lot of cherry tomatoes too.

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