How to grow and propagate basil

How to grow and propagate basil

Speedy had the entire garden pruned and cleaned. Most of the ornamental plants have been uprooted and discarded. A nightmare, perhaps, for those whose appreciation for plants is based on their monetary value because some of the plants that we had thrown away are rather expensive. We didn’t buy them, actually, they came with the house so I never personally considered them as our plants because they really don’t say anything about us. They were never an expression of our persons and personality. I can’t say I miss them; I can’t say I’m sorry they’re gone. In fact, I am glad they’re gone because now we have more space for the kind of plants that we really want — edible plants.

If you’re a long-time reader, you’re probably aware of how we’ve been growing herbs even back in the little garden of our old little house. When we moved to a larger house with a larger garden, we started planting fruit-bearing trees too. The fruit-bearing trees — tamarind, kaffir lime, lime, lemon, kalamansi and orange — are thriving but the herbs have been a come-and-go affair. See, every time a storm or a typhoon passes by, they take a lot of the herbs with them. If the herbs don’t get uprooted by the strong winds, they are drowned by strong rains. After a while, we just gave up and the spaces formerly occupied by herbs got overrun by the growing ornamental plants. Now that the ornamental plants are gone, we can start growing herbs again. I really miss them, especially the basil (we used to grow three kinds), mint (we had three kinds of that too), oregano, tarragon and thyme.

How did we grow herbs and how do we intend to do it this time?

We start with seedlings (see where to buy potted herbs). We let the seedlings grow (no picking until they have matured a bit) and those that can be propagated via stem-cutting, we propagate that way. Like basil.

Basil likes lots of sunshine and does not require too much watering. That’s why it’s so easy to grow them in a tropical climate. When the plant is mature enough that the lower stems turn woody, it is safe to start doing some stem-cutting. Choose a mature stem, snip diagonally and replant the cutting directly into the soil. For best results, trim all the leaves from the cutting so that the stem can get all the nutrients from the soil. It grows faster that way.

How to grow and propagate basil

As for a mature basil plant, to make sure that it continues to grow leaves profusely, sunshine and water aren’t enough. You have to cut off the flowers. Oh, yes, when basil reaches a height of about two feet, they will start to grow flowers. The flowers will appear on top. They are beautiful, lavender and dainty, but it’s the leaves that you want, not the flowers. If the flowers are not cut off, the branches where they grow will stop growing leaves on top. No new stems will form on top of those branches either.

How to grow and propagate basil

I used to be so darn lazy about cutting off the flowers. Not anymore.

So, again, get rid of the flowers. Where should the cut be made? Here’s a video that shows exactly where.

  • peterb

    Have you ever considered a small greenhouse for the herbs? I saw one at Manila Seedling.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      No. Wow, will have to check that out. That will keep the herbs away from the cats too! Thanks. :)

  • peterb

    I saw them at EDSA Garden House, outside their big greenhouse by the parking area. It’s relatively small, can’t recall the exact dimensions but something like 2.5m x 1.5m x 2m. I think there are 3 sizes to choose from.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Will go soon. Am excited! :D

  • misao

    One of the staff at a garden centre here told me that since basil is an annual plant. Once they flower and seed, they will stop growing and will eventually die. So I guess it makes sense to cut off the flowers before they produce seeds – trick the plant into prolonging its life cycle.

    • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

      Weird, isn’t it? With most other plants, we want the seeds. But with basil, it’s easier and faster to cut the stems and replant than wait for seeds to germinate.

  • peterb

    I’m excited for you!:) I wish i could have the same…but sadly, i’ve got sunlight and space issues.

  • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

    Have you tried growing basil in pots and placing the pots on windows? It works, actually, although cuttings will have to be planted in separate pots.

  • http://gravatar.com/sanraf peterb

    Got the greenhouse yet? :)

    Yup, pots in windows…my most successful attempt. It’s just that some are overzealous in watering the herbs. I’ll probably let the rainy season pass before i attempt again.

  • http://casaveneracion.com/ Connie Veneracion

    They weren’t there anymore when we went two weeks ago. :(