|my lovely, dying, woody sweet basil|
This was a great basil--it's leaves were sweet, and the smell was wonderful. I'd rather have more like it than try my luck with store bought seeds. So, I'm going to propagate it from cuttings in this tutorial.
(step by step guide after the jump)
Turns out, this is pretty easy with basil. It's hardy, and develops roots quickly that suck up water. Using cuttings is a great way to get a new basil for free from one that someone plans to throw out, and a great way to resurrect a basil you would otherwise throw out. Here's how I do it.
|a 4" cutting from the woody plant|
Step 1: Look carefully at your basil, and apply slight pressure to some of the branches as if you were trying to break them off. Some branches will be woody and dry and will snap off easily. Those are dead, and you don't want them. Instead, look for the branches that bend rather than break under slight pressure. These will be the ones under the live leaves. If you can't find any bendy branches, it may be too late to resurrect the plant.
Step 2: If you find bendable branches, snip them off about 4" from the top. If these branches have live leaves on them, try to leave the leaves on. If you look at the edge you just cut, you will notice that it has a green ring, where the ones that are dead have only tan and brown ends.
|waterproof container, lid, gummy candy removed|
Step 3: find a waterproof container you can seal but don't mind destroying in the long run. In this case, I used a plastic container with a lid that came from the bulk candy section of our grocery store. The candy's been safely removed to a plastic bag for later eating.
|Cut a hole large enough for the cutting|
|cuttings pushed through hole in the lid.|
|1"-3" of cutting below the water line|
Step 6: Put the lid back on tightly and gently push the cuttings through the lid. A few leaves will probably fall off, but that's ok, just make sure that one end of the cutting is fully immersed at least 1" in the water, and that the end sticking up through the lid still has some leaves on it.
Step 7: Put the basil in a sunny window and basically ignore it for a few weeks. The only thing you need to do with the basil at this point is to refill the water if any evaporates so that the cuttings always have a portion immersed. Don't fertilize it, don't water it, don't sing it arias. . .just leave it alone (ok, you can sing to it if you want).
Step 9: Fill a 6" or larger pot with good drainage about 1/2 of the way with potting soil (or if it's warm enough, dig a hole outside), and dig a hole about 1/3 of the way down. Hold the basil plant above the pot with one hand so that the bottom of the roots are resting on the top of the potting soil hole.
Step 10: Gently add more soil until the roots are buried. Continue adding soil until a little of the stem is buried as well. You may only have a few leaves sticking out. That's ok--it will encourage a bushy plant, rather than a stringy one. Pat the soil down gently, and lightly water. Put your pot back in the sunny window.