Propagating Herbs or How To Never Buy Another Herb Plant Again

I just got a comment from a reader the other day; she was interested in increasing her herb garden cheaply. Buying herb plants at the supermarket or nursery can get expensive; especially the organic ones. The easiest and cheapest way is by propagating herbs. You can quickly get endless supply of organic herbs for your garden.

Even if you start with a conventional herb plant you can propagate it and then grow the individual plants organically.

The two easiest methods of propagation herbs are in water and in soil.

Propagation in Water:

Best herbs to propagate in water

  • Basil
  • Lemon Balm
  • Mint
  • Oregano

How to propagate herbs in water

Look for a healthy (free of disease) robust section of the herb and cut a 6 inch piece just below a node (where the leaves meet the branch). Remove any flowers and the bottom rows of leaves. You don’t want any to be submerged in the water.

Place the cutting in a jar or glass filled with water in a bright spot but not in direct sunlight. To keep the water fresh change it every 3 days. Within 7-14 days you should have a healthy amount of roots.

After a couple of weeks… now they’re ready for planting.

Propagating in Soil:

This method is best for herbs with woody stems that may take a very long time or may never grow roots in water.

Best Herbs to propagate in soil

  • Lemon Verbena
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Scented Geraniums
  • Thyme

How to propagate Herbs in soil

Take a cutting the same way as for propagating in water and plant it in a well draining container using a good organic potting mix. You need to keep the soil moist by giving it a good watering daily. To preserve moisture in hot weather you can wrap it loosely in plastic with a few small holes for ventilation.

A lot of people use rooting hormone on a cutting before planting it. I find it’s not necessary if you keep the soil moist. Besides some of these compounds are toxic to animals; hence, not to be used in an organic herb garden. After about 3 weeks you should have some well established roots. You can then transplant the new plant to its permanent home.

I thought I’d throw this in; since you may become so addicted to propagating your herbs that you may run out of room to keep them in a small garden.

What to do with excess propagated herb plants:

Give them away as gifts – This would make a great hostess gift, planted in a pretty recycled container.

Eat them – make a huge batch of pesto…which you can also give away as a gift in cute little jelly canning jars. I got this as a present for Christmas and loved it.

Dry them – you’ll never have to buy expensive dry organic herbs again.

Go vertical:

An idea for DIY hanging gutter herb garden:

Check out Instructables for this shoe organizer planter tutorial.

I’ve been dying to try the shoe organizer planter since I saw it a while ago. But I’m a bit concerned about planting herbs in that plastic, not sure if the chemicals will leach into the soil and plants. I did find a great big eco-friendly cotton one at the container store, but it’s $25 (kinda defeats the purpose of DIY’ ing something to save money!!!). So I’m thinking of making one myself with canvas from the fabric store. I’ll keep you posted…

Have you been propagating herbs? If so leave me a comment to let me know which ones and how they are doing.

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