Keeping herbs alive can be a tricky business, especially with more fragile herbs like coriander (cilantro). But if your herbs wilt and seem to die, don’t fret. It’s not always necessary to go out and buy new ones. If you can catch the herbs before they’re totally gone, you can regrow a new plant from cuttings. Know that the success rate of cuttings isn’t 100% — somewhere between 50% and 75% of your cuttings are likely to make it. So start out with a handful of cuttings! That said, some herbs are easier to start than others. Here are some that you can recycle endlessly.

Mint

  1. Cut a healthy sprig about 3 inches long from your mint plant. Pluck off the large lower leaves, but keep the cluster of small leaves at the top.
  2. Place the sprig upright in a small glass of water and set it on a windowsill. Mint takes a few weeks to grow roots. If the water gets murky, replace it. 
  3. When the roots have grown at least an inch long, you can repot the mint. Make sure to keep the soil lightly damp for the first few days while your mint adapts to its new conditions.

Basil

Use the same procedure of basil as for mint, but take a longer sprig, about 4 inches. Basil likes warmth, so give it a hot corner to sit in. Once it’s been potted, water lightly once or twice a day to keep the soil damp.

Tip: It’s good to take cuttings right above a leaf node (where the leaves are growing from the stem). The original plant will continue growing leaves from the node.

Coriander / Cilantro

Cilantro tends to come up fast and fall over quickly, making it one of the hardest plants to keep alive. If you have cilantro in a pot that’s become leafy and leggy, this is the time to harvest it. Cilantro clippings can grow in water, though not as well. To “reset” this plant, simply harvest the cilantro, leaving between a half inch and an inch of stem, and wait for it to grow again.

Rosemary & Thyme

Rosemary is a more difficult herb to grow from a cutting, unlike basil and mint. It will take much longer, up to 2 months, before you see roots. Don’t give up if you don’t see roots for a while. As long as the leaves remain green, your rosemary sprig is fine.

Rooting tip: To help the roots grow, use a natural rooting hormone and add nutrients into the water. Some rosemary cuttings will not survive without these, and they’re a good idea to use even on the other herbs! Don’t use fertilizer: the cuttings are too fragile and can be easily poisoned by fertilizer. Use rooting hormones only. Once roots are visible, you may consider adding a little fertilizer, but do research to make sure your plant needs fertilizer first. Most cuttings can develop on their own without it.

Many other herbs follow the same pattern: take a clipping, remove the lower leaves, add to a glass of water and set on a windowsill, change the water whenever it gets unclear or murky, and replant the clipping once it has a healthy growth of roots on the bottom (at least an inch). The key ingredient is fresh water: herb clippings in murky water won’t receive enough oxygen or nutrients, and will eventually die. So make sure to change the water and keep it clean.

How we do it: bottle gardens

Your rooted cutting can be easily transplanted into our garden. The nutrients provided means that it will be able to live a long life and produce a lot more herbs for you! Opposed to soil gardening, the hydroponic self-water design means that you don’t need to worry about watering every few days.

Keeping herbs alive with rooted cuttings

Once your cutting has rooted just place it in the top smart soil insert it and set up your garden as usual.

We also encourage people to use green or brown bottles for the kits. Why? Because these colors filter out harmful red and blue light rays, which helps to keep the water clean.

Keeping herbs alive is something anyone can do. It might take you a little practice, but keep at it and you’ll never have to buy herbs from the store again.