Basil seeds are very easy to germinate, but they are so tiny which makes the seedlings very fiddly to handle. Here’s how to make more basil plants for pennies and guarantee a good supply of basil all season long. All you need is one starter plant, water and a sunny window sill.
Try to source a good quality organic basil plant, because this will be the mother of lots of little baby plants and you’ll be eating them all Summer. It’s best to get it from a garden centre rather than one from a supermarket which often don’t have very well formed root systems, but if you can’t then a supermarket one will still work well.
Make sure you keep your mother plant in a generous pot in plenty of light because basil does love the sun. Once the plant is established and growing well, pinch off two or three shoots before they get too leggy.
The shoots should be about 3 – 4 inches long, and you should cut them just below the first leaf node, which is where two side leaves branch off.
Pinch off the side leaves but leave the tiny little ones right near the stem.
Place the cutting in a clear glass bottle (an empty sauce bottle would be perfect) and fill with water.
Place in a bright space, make sure it gets plenty of sunlight (a window ledge is ideal)
Keep the water topped up and change it every few days or if it starts to look cloudy.
This works with two cuttings per bottle and after a week you should start to see tiny little roots appear. Sometimes you get the odd one that refuses to root, but just discard it and try another, most will work fine.
Allow these tiny roots to grow and multiply until they are around 2 inches long and ready to plant into small pots of compost.
Keep these baby plants well watered on the window sill until it is warm enough for them to go outside after the risk of frost is over. Repeat this process every 6 weeks or so to ensure a constant supply.
This method should give you plenty of basil for salads, pasta sauces and pestos right through the spring, summer and well into the autumn. And if you have too many baby basils, they make a lovely little gift too.