Rooting Herbs

Rooting Herbs


I have a confession to make. I kill potted plants. If it is in my house and in a pot, it will die. I have no trouble growing things in the ground. In fact, I think I’m pretty good at gardening. But potted plants, watch out!  It’s frustrating, especially since I love to cook with fresh herbs and hate paying the exorbitant prices at the grocery store.  Alas, indoor herbs live in pots….. or so I thought.

When I first heard that some herbs could be rooted in water I was excited to say the least.  I can grow plants in water!  I have managed to keep some pothos plants rooted in water alive for nearly 5 years now. I don’t have to worry about watering them too much or too little, I only have to make sure the water level doesn’t get too low. Perfect indoor plants for me.  So I thought I’d give it a go.  Here’s what I did:

You’ll need:

A glass or clear plastic jar.  Try to find one with a narrow neck if you can but anything clear will work.

Herbs that will readily root.  I have successfully rooted mint and sage and I have read that rosemary also roots well.  As far as other herbs that will root, you’ll have to google that, or use trial and error.  I do know that chives will NOT root.


Find the longest stemmed cuttings and remove the leaves from most of the stem.  Save them, you can still use them in  you cooking.  This is important because often the roots will grow where the leaves used to be.  That turned out to be the case with the mint, but interestingly not the sage.  Don’t worry about any bent stems, most of them will straighten and if they don’t it doesn’t affect rooting.  You may also want to wash the mint (more on that later).

With a sharp knife, cut a bit from the ends of the stems.  This allows the plant to more easily take up water.  I cut the stems diagonally, but I don’t really know if that makes a difference.

Fill the jar with water and insert the stems, ensuring that as much of the stem is under the water as possible.  Tap water is best, it has most of it minerals intact.  If your tap water is chlorinated you may want to let it sit out overnight to allow the chlorine to evaporate.  Refill when the water level drops.  You may want to change with water completely a few times, but I didn’t notice that it made any difference to the rooting.

Put the jar in a bright spot, but not in direct sunlight.

Now comes the hard part; waiting….

The sage sat for weeks without showing a sign of rooting at all.  Since the leaves looked great, I just left them alone.  Finally, two of the stems grew roots.  The others never did, so I used them in a dish.  So even though they didn’t root, they stayed fresh for weeks which they wouldn’t have done in the fridge.  Win, win!

The mint only took a few days to root, though the plants looked really wilty until it did.  It make me a bit nervous, but they perked up fine once they rooted.  Every single mint stem rooted and then started growing!  And getting leggy because they weren’t in a bright enough spot.  AND becoming infested with aphids!  I guess some were still on the plants when I bought them.  So I recommend washing mint before you root it.  Just water and maybe a little mild soap should do the trick.  Incidently, the aphids didn’t touch the sage even though they were growing in the same jar.

Now that they have rooted, you can plant them in a pot with potting soil and put them in a sunny window.  Or if you’re like me, you can leave them.  They may or may not grow in the water (mint did, sage hasn’t yet) but at least they won’t die!

Isn’t it amazing what plants can do?

Update:  Here’s a link to growing onions from discarded root ends.  I wonder if this would work in water.  Anyone want to try it and let me know?


One response »

  1. Sweet! I’m going to try this! As you know, I killed all my herb seedlings last summer several times. This would probably help me avoid the tricky early growth stages. Thanks!

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