Starting Herbs from Cuttings | Almanac.com

Starting Herbs from Cuttings


How to Grow New Herbs For Free

The Editors

Grow new herbs from cuttings easily and for free! Late summer is the perfect time to do this, although cuttings can be taken almost anytime.

With cuttings, you can increase the number of perennial herbs such as lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme in your garden. Semi-ripe cuttings are taken from stems that are beginning to ‘ripen’, or become woody at the base. Cuttings are best taken in the morning when it’s cooler, as they are less likely to wilt.

How to Take Semi-Ripe Cuttings

  • Choose a non-flowering stem that is healthy and undamaged and make a cut using a sharp pair of clean pruners.
  • Place your cuttings into a plastic bag to prevent them from drying out. (They can be kept in a refrigerator for up to 12 hours if you can’t prepare them straight away)
  • Trim the cutting to about 4-6 inches long, making the cut just below a leaf joint. Snip or pull off the lower leaves so only three or four remain.
  • Dip the end of the cuttings into organic hormone rooting powder or gel to improve your chances of success.

Potting Up Herb Cuttings

  • Mix potting soil 50:50 with sharp sand, or alternatively mix one-third sterilized topsoil, one-third sharp sand and one-third leafmold.
  • Fill plastic pots or plug trays with the mix, and insert the cuttings up to the first set of leaves. About three cuttings per 4-inch pot is about right, or one cutting per plug tray cell.
  • Firm the potting soil around them, and water them.
  • Keep your cuttings in a warm, humid place such as a cold frame or greenhouse. Provide shade from hot sun, make sure the cuttings mix remains moist, and ventilate in hot weather.
  • If you don’t have a cold frame or other suitable structure, you can keep humidity high by covering pots with clear plastic bags secured in place with rubber bands. Keep your pots on a bright windowsill, but out of direct sunlight.

Cuttings can take a little as six weeks to take root, or may take up to four months.

Growing Cuttings On

Leave your cuttings in their pots until spring, by which time they should be well-rooted. They’re then ready to be potted on.

Remove the cuttings from their pot and carefully tease the roots apart. Plant them in individual pots of fresh potting soil. Grow them on for a few more weeks, and then they’ll be ready to plant outdoors.

Enjoy this video?  Find many more tips and techniques and learn how to grow your own food! Check out a free 7-day trial of the Almanac Garden Planner.


Lucia (not verified)

3 years 8 months ago

I had made cuttings from my rosemary plant by cutting the tender branches, then I removed some lower leaves and placed them in water. After they developed a root system, I planted them in lose potting soil at the beginning of summer. They were indoors before moving them outdoors. They are doing well. Plan to bring them in for the winter.

loren (not verified)

3 years 8 months ago

I have propagated many plants this way. At one time I had over 150 African Violets that I grew from cuttings. The major advantage is that you know exactly what plant you will get as it will be a clone of the parent.

s (not verified)

3 years 9 months ago

In addition to a comment by another reader, it would have been more valuable to learn how to create new plants by cutting lavender and thyme!

Pauline (not verified)

3 years 9 months ago

If you're out of rooting gel or powder try using honey.

Harriette (not verified)

5 years 9 months ago

The video was good, but needs a couple of additions. Deciding where to cut sage is easy, but plants like thyme and rosemary leaf differently and it would be good to show at least one of them. Secondly, a list of herbs that can be done this way would be helpful.