I’m so excited about this tip, I decided it deserved its own blog post, rather than just a footnote in another post (which I had originally planned to do).
I buy basil often at the farmers’ market. When I get it home, I store the bunches in jars of water to keep them fresh. It works well. One of the vendors told me that if I trim the ends off of the bunches, they will sprout roots.
So I tried it.
We ate most of the basil pictured above. I reserved a small amount in one of the jars of water. After about a week, I noticed roots sprouting! How exciting. By the way, when I store basil in water like this, I change the water about once a week or every ten days.
I then searched for a pot to plant my basil. That took a few weeks (life gets busy…). By the time I pulled my basil out of the water, the roots had gone wild.
I potted the basil in a pot filled with dirt and some of my lazy compost mixed in. (Here’s how to compost the lazy way.) I really should have divided this basil among a few pots. It’s a bit crowded below.
As the basil sat in the water and later grew in the pot above, it started to flower in several spots. Just pinch these off as soon as you see them—ideally when tiny, tightly closed up and green but if you miss those, pinch off when open and white. I keep my plant in a sunny kitchen greenhouse window but due to glare there, took the pic outside. I made homemade pasta this week and topped it with pesto made with most of this basil. I did leave several leaves though and will trim a bit to propagate more for another pot. The pesto tasted delicious.
While much more finicky than basil, rosemary also works. I’ve had better luck with fresh rosemary I’ve cut from a friend’s mature rosemary bush. Store-bought hasn’t worked nearly as well—but it’s still worth a try if you have some on hand. You only have a sprig or two to lose and possibly an entire rosemary hedge to gain (eventually).
This same trick works extremely well with green onions. After cutting off and eating the green part, put the white part—do not trim the bottom—in a jar of water. The green onion below regrew for over a month in my window before slowing down a bit. After you have some roots, replant the onions in soil, indoors or out.