Learn how to water propagate herbs with these 7 easy steps. Whether you have a hard time getting herbs going from seeds or you want to speed up the process considerably then water propagating herb cuttings is a must!
Greenhouses are doing it.. so why aren’t you?
Even if you do get herbs going from seed, they still take a REALLY long time to grow and an even longer time before you can harvest the fresh herbs you want from them.
Fun fact! Most plant nurseries don’t actually start herbs from seed. In fact, they start their plants from cuttings as it is way more profitable.
Best Herbs For Propagating
Herbs that naturally put out new roots along their stem such as basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, mint, lavender and other perennial type herbs are best suited to water propagating.
These also happen to be the easiest herbs to grow indoors with a little extra supplemental light in the winter.
What Is Water Propagation?
Water propagating plants is a common easy method of getting new plants going from cuttings from an existing plant. We will dive deeper into the specifics and tips for success, but in short, you take a cutting from an existing plant, sticking it in some water, waiting for the roots to grow and then pot it up!
The Best Cuttings To Use
You can use a herb plant you already have growing indoors or out, or purchase one from a greenhouse. You can also use the herbs you buy for cooking from the grocery store. Both work equally well. Just a tip.. Look for the freshest herbs from the grocery store if you decide to use those.
Be sure to only take cuttings from the green stems and not the woody stems. The woody stems are the older part of the plant and do not put out roots near as readily as the newer green stems will. Typically you will see this in the perennial herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary. So save yourself the time and headache and just use new shoots, aka the green stems.
1. Prepare The Cuttings
Second important note is to trim off any leaves that will sit below the water line. Do this carefully so you don’t rip or damage the actual stem itself. The leaves below the water line will rot and foul your water quickly. Clean off the lower 3/4 of the stem and stick it in a jar of freshwater. Keep the top leafy bits sticking out of the water.
Separate Herb Types
One thing I’d probably do differently next time is making sure to start each herb in it’s own jar as the roots tangled together on my oregano and thyme fairly quickly. I had to gingerly separate them without ripping any off, but that can be tricky.
2. Bright Location
Herbs like sun so place it the cuttings in a bright sunny space. The process will go much quicker. I tend to avoid direct sun as that just evaporates the water too quickly.
3. Refresh Water Often
Keep the cuttings somewhere you will see them often so you can be reminded to change the water often. Otherwise shoot for 1x week. Replace the water completely. Fresh water brings more oxygen and speed up the process.
4. When Is It Ready For Potting?
When they have approx. 1-2″ of roots (shown in the video) you can to put them in some dirt.
Plant Herbs In Bunches
I generally put a little bunch of herb cuttings all together in the same pot to give a fuller plant.
Ideal Soil Type
The soil I use for seed starting and also growing herbs indoors is just a standard potting soil mix that I’ve also added some worm castings to.
I have a late last frost date which means my plants spend quite a bit of time in pots and that added worm castings is great to keep them well fed and happy for longer periods. I find it much easier to make sure that I’ve got a lot of nutrients in the soil than worrying about a bunch of extra fertilizing. Makes having a kitchen herb garden easy to grow as there is less maintenance.
Don’t Pack Soil Tight
When you are potting up any plants that you have started with water propagating the roots are not accustomed to dirt. You want to make sure that you’re being a little bit more gentle with pressing the soil around the cuttings. The soil may settle later, just top it up if needed.
5. Bury Cuttings Deeply
You can bury your oregano, thyme and rosemary cuttings fairly deep as well because they will put out extra roots if they’re connecting to the soil. This builds a really great root structure quickly. Also, if you do end up with leggy herbs, that’s a little trick you can use to help correct their growth. Just bury it a little bit deeper and that legginess will start to put out more roots up the stem.
Keep repeating this process as much as you want. This is way easier and faster to start more herbs than from seed. Plus it clears up a little bit of space on my seed growing shelf for a time. When it is seed starting time that is pretty ideal
Should You Use Grow Lights?
Your herbs will grow fine indoors without grow lights but they will not be the speediest producers. If you are looking for a plant that you can harvest from more regularly then it is advisable to get some grow lights.
These one are my personal favorites. I have purchased a few batches now as my indoor growing set-up grows.
To ensure a strong health plant that will make it through transplanting outdoor without too much stress grow lights are essential. Especially if you are growing indoors over the winter time where you have short days of sun and the strength of the sun is fairly week.
I hope you enjoyed this herb water propagating tutorial. If you did, be sure to send it to a friend that might also find this useful!
Learn More About:
- Cold Season Growing
- Compost & Vermicompost
- Food Preservation
- Harvesting Tips
- Indoor Growing
- Plant Pests
- Seed Starting
- Tool Shed