Getting more herbs for your buck

Remember how last week we talked about how rosemary is hard to grow from seed? You might also remember me mentioning how many gardeners propagate rosemary from small clippings or by rooting branches of an existing plant.

It just happens that my Tuscan Blue rosemary that I brought in on my sunny back porch to overwinter did the latter all on its own! The Tuscan Blue (which is a lovely and sweeter variety of rosemary, by the way) has a more spreading form than many rosemary varieties, and a branch of it rooted itself in the pot next to the main plant. If you look closely at the picture below, you’ll see the roots from the branch going down into the soil.

Rosemary rooting
Look closely below where I’m pointing and you can see roots starting a new rosemary plant.

To encourage another new plant, I pinned down a second low-lying branch with a small piece of wire. Hopefully, in a couple months, I can snip two rooted beginner rosemary plants off of the main plant and have a couple to give away, trade, or expand my own rosemary plantings.

Some other herbs will root its own branches to spread out, such as mint, catnip, and oregano.

From Cuttings

I have had less success with cuttings than some of my gardening friends, but that partially because I tend to forget about looking after them. I do prefer gardening in-ground, so starting seeds and cuttings isn’t as much for me as it is for others.

However, you can also take 2”-3” cuttings off the top of rosemary branches, strip away the bottom inch or so of leaves, and place in small glass or jar with water covering this stripped area.

Tip: You can dip the ends of the stems into a growth hormone to encourage roots, but some fellow gardeners at a class on growing native plants said that you can use other things such as aspirin or even licking it (apparently saliva can induce root growth).

GWL Fig roots
Fig cuttings showing off abundant root growth from the simple cup method. I kept them on top of the fridge, where they stay warm.

Keep the water level up by checking periodically and rinsing off any fuzzy looking film on the stems. It may take several weeks or even months, but eventually you should see roots coming out of the nodes where the leaves were.

At this point, you can transfer the stems to small pots with a loose, crumbling starting medium. Keep them watered (but not overwatered) and they should settle in and grow into mature plants for you.

I have used this method to propagate basil plants and recently for fig tree cuttings. (Actually, I still need to get these in the soil but I have roots aplenty.) If something is hard to grow from seed for you, give this method a try!

Garden on, green warriors!


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