Foolproof Tips on the Easiest Ways to Root Herbs
By Rebecca Sweet
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A perfect combination of cutting precision and comfort for deadheading, cutting herbs and more.
And who doesn’t love saving money? If you answered yes to these questions, then learning one of the easiest ways to propagate herbs is something you definitely have to try. And fall is the perfect time to do this!
Before fall’s cool nights arrive, putting an end to your herb garden, snip a few cuttings of your favorite herbs to enjoy during the winter months. Not only will your food taste better but also you’ll have more plants to set out in your garden next spring! And what’s the easiest way to do this? Rooting in water!
Here’s some foolproof tips on the easiest ways to root herbs in water:
1. When making your cut make sure to use a sharp tool such as the Fiskars Comfort Grip Floral Snips. You don’t want to tear or bruise the stem that could result in crushing the plant’s sensitive cambrium layer. This layer of a plant is crucial for producing future healthy cells.
And here’s a little tip when storing scissors as sharp as these. To avoid cutting yourself when reaching into your gardening bag, just stick the ends of the scissors into a cork!
You can also take a ‘heel’ cutting, which is done by pulling off the stem plus a small section where it attaches to the main stem. This section is thought to have more of the plant’s natural growth hormone in it and may increase its rooting ability.
2. When taking cuttings, try and get at least 3-5 inches of a healthy non-flowering stem to ensure plenty of nodes from which roots will sprout. No pests or diseases please!
Remove all lower leaves that will be submerged in water, while allowing a few to remain at the top.
3. Next comes the fun part – choosing the glass container! While its tempting to use clear glass containers (especially if you want your kids to experience the ‘magic’ of growing roots) be aware that algae will grow faster and you’ll need to change the water more often (once every day or two). Once algae begins to grow, it steals crucial oxygen that the roots need for growing. Not a good thing! Instead, consider an opaque glass jar or container.
If you want to use clear glass, and your plants will be living in a sunny window, try taping paper to the side of the bottle closest to the window. You’ll still be able to see the roots, but you’ll reduce the amount of algae growing inside the bottle.
Choose a glass container that has a wide enough opening. Roots growing in water are incredibly brittle, and need to be handled with extra care. Pulling them out of a narrow opening will surely destroy them.
4. Now what? While many herbs will live for quite awhile in their watery homes, its much better to plant them in soil – especially if you plan to use them in your garden next spring.
It’s important to realize that the roots the plant has produced in water are different than those produced when grown in soil. While growing in water, a clever way to encourage the growth of ‘soil roots’ is to carefully drop a few pebbles into the container each day until the pebbles reach mid-way up the stem. These pebbles are gently scraping the roots like soil would, causing the stem to produce side roots necessary for living in soil.
Once the roots are about 1_ inches long, the plant should be planted in soil. If you wait any longer, the plant may go into shock and die once planted.
Herbs that are easily propagated this way are basil, mint, lemon balm, thyme, parsley and sage.