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Propagate herbs: How to easily get new rosemary, thyme, etc. by division, cuttings and sowing.

Herbs are often the first plants new gardeners start with because they are easy to grow. Not only are they easy to care for, but they also beautify your garden, keep out unwanted pests, and add the finishing touches to your food and drinks. Once you have a few established plants, it’s time to expand your herb garden. Follow these simple steps to maintain new growth: how to propagate your herbs easily through division, cuttings and sowing.

What does propagation mean?

Propagate herbs - what it means - parsley, rosemary, thyme

Propagation is the production of new plants from a variety of sources – these include seeds, cuttings, bulbs and other plant parts. There are three main methods of propagating herbs such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, dill, sage, curry herb and basil: by sowing seeds, cuttings and division. Most plants can be propagated by all three methods. For herbs, the fastest method to get more plants is propagation from cuttings.

Propagation by division – mint, lemon balm and chives.

Propagation by division - mint, lemon balm and chives

Most herbs with fleshy, clump-forming roots are easily propagated by division. Break a mature, healthy plant into parts without damaging the roots or base to make smaller, individual growths. Perennial herbs that die back and go dormant in winter are best – for example, golden balm, mint, chives and fragrant lemon balm .

Lemon balm in a pot - propagate herbs easily

For best results, propagate the plants in the spring by dividing the roots. This way, the newly divided plants will have plenty of time to develop a solid root system and healthy foliage over the summer.

Propagating herbs by cuttings

What plants can be used as cuttings?

Propagate thyme by cuttings


Herbs are either perennials or annuals. If an herb is an annual, you will need to replant it from seed each year. Lavender, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, chives and thyme are perennials. Cilantro, basil, dill and fennel are annuals, but the last two drop seeds that can produce new plants. This means that dill and fennel will regrow each year by self-seeding, but not necessarily in the same location in your garden.

You need to know which herbs are perennials and which are annuals if you want to propagate them from cuttings. You can also use this method with annual herbs to overwinter them indoors and save seeds the next year.

When is the best time for cuttings propagation?

The best time to propagate herbs

The best time to propagate cuttings is during the active growing season of the plant, usually between spring and fall. Take cuttings from herbs that are not actively flowering. If there are a few flowers on the stem, you need to remove them.

Propagate herbs – cutting off a piece.

Propagate herbs - cut pieces - cuttings


One of the easiest ways to propagate new herbs is by cutting off a piece of the parent plant and putting it in soil or water to grow roots. It’s best to look for tender growth with three or more nodes: This is where new leaves will emerge on the stems. The cutting is a 5 to 15 cm long piece of stem and contains a terminal bud.

Propagation of a cuttings of herbs in a jar of water

Herb cuttings in a water glass

Before you can plant a cutting in the ground and propagate it, it must take root. Many herbs, especially moisture-loving ones like mint, can be easily rooted in water. To do this, you should place the stem of the mother plant (for example, basil or lemon balm) in a jar with about 5 inches of clean water. Place the jar of water on a windowsill and after 1 to 4 weeks the cuttings should begin to form roots. At this time you can plant them in soil .

Plant cuttings directly into pots

Grow cuttings directly in the pot

You can also plant your cuttings directly into pots with growing medium. Use a soilless growing medium (the same one you use for growing seeds) for the cuttings. To speed up the rooting process, you can dip the stems in rooting hormone before potting. After potting, water the cuttings and cover them with a plastic ziplock bag. The cuttings will root in 3 – 4 weeks.

Propagate herbs by sowing – planting indoors.

Find the right container

Consider temperature and container when you propagate herbs

Growing herb seeds indoors is easy if you know what you’re doing. Just make sure you have the right conditions and you’ll have beautiful, healthy seedlings in no time. First, choose a container to plant in. For example, you can use plastic egg cartons or seed trays for sowing, or sow the seeds directly into a sterile growing medium such as rockwool.

Propagate herbs by sowing - planting indoors - dill, basil.

Use a good potting soil for sowing. In addition to the soil, you can add a little sand to improve drainage. Fill the containers almost to the top with potting soil and moisten it so that it is moist but not soaking wet. Set the seeds in or place them on top and cover with a little soil. Very small seeds should be placed directly on the surface. See the back of the seed packet for planting depth instructions.

Observe temperature when propagating herbs

Propagate herbs - easy and fast - tips

Find a sunny , preferably south facing windowsill for your growing containers or place them on top of the refrigerator where it is nice and warm. After planting, cover the seeds with plastic wrap or put the entire container in a plastic bag. This will keep the moisture in and help the seeds germinate. Check frequently to make sure the soil stays moist and remove the plastic wrap as soon as seedlings appear.

Propagating herbs in the garden