Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Free Herb Plants for Next Spring

I am so excited about this little experiment of mine - I took cuttings from most of my herb plants in the fall (peppermint, basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme), rooted them in small pots (adorable little tea tins, actually), and they're growing into strong plants for putting out in the garden next spring (not to mention cuttings for adding to recipes all winter).

It's so simple, I wish I'd tried it years ago (instead of buying new potted herb plants from the local garden center every spring). Here's what I did:

1. Cut off a 2-3 inch piece from the growing tips of your plant.
2. Trim off all but the upper few leaves.
3. (optional) Dip the bare stem in water, then in rooting hormone:
4. Gently sink the stem into your pot of soil and water well.

And that's it! Keep the soil very moist until you see new growth (did you know you can toothpick test soil, like you do to see if a cake is done? If the soil sticks to the toothpick, it's moist; if it comes away clean, your soil is dry) then water as you would your other houseplants. Obviously, a sunny windowsill is the best place for them, but anywhere they will get good light should be fine. You can expect these baby plants to be more tall and spindly than their outdoor-grown parents because of the restricted light conditions (a lamp might help, but isn't strictly necessary if your window is sunny enough), but they should "beef up" just fine once you plant them out in the spring (but be careful to harden them off a little at a time before you set them out permanently).

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