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Propagation in Herb Gardening

Mar 13, 2008
Before you start thinking about herb gardening you you should know how they are propagated.

Propagation refers to how new plants are created. There are several ways to propagate plants. The first is by seeds. Seeds should be planted in a rich planting medium made of one part potting soil, two parts vermiculite, and one part peat moss. This soil is light and allows seeds to grow easily. Do not use soil from your yard because it is contaminated and is usually doesn't allow a seed to germinate easily.

Propagation by Seed

Some seeds need special care before you can plant them. They mean you'd to be soaked in water to soften their outer shell or they may need to be frozen or refrigerated for a time. Some seeds may need extra heat to help with germination. Plant your seeds in seed trays or tiny pots, then they can be planted in the ground after germination.

Seeds should be planted six to eight weeks before the last frost of the year. This gives the new plants enough time to grow and get used to being outside before being planted in the ground. This is called "hardening off" - a gradual exposure to weather and sun.

Place seeds in your containers, and prepare them according to their needs. Some herbs will just need to be put into the potting soil while others will need special care. Put plastic or glass over the top of the containers and keep them moist by placing water in a tray below the container.

You can also water by removing the plastic and misting gently with a spray bottle, then replacing the cover. The plastic or glass will keep the soil moist so you won't need to water for several days.

Some seeds will need bottom heat. There are several ways in which this can be done. You can purchase a commercial seed bottom warmer, install florescent or grow lights, or use a water bed heaters. Never use a heating pad because if it should get wet, you will have big problems.

As soon as the plants have sprouted, remove the glass or plastic covering. Pull the weakest of the seedlings, and leave the strongest and healthiest of those to flourish.

Place your seedlings under grow lights or place them in indirect or filtered sun. Do not put them in direct sun because that will burn them up. If you are going to put them in the sun, turn them every day saw that they will grow straight.

The second set of leaves that a plant grows are its true leaves. As soon as they appear, it's time to plant them into bigger pots. Since these are temporary pots, you can use margarine containers. Poke holes in the bottom and use the lids as trays.

When your plants have three or four rows of leaves and are a few inches high, they are ready to be hardened off. Now is the time to get them accustomed to the weather, sunlight, or lack of sunlight.

When the temperature outside reaches about 65 to 70 degrees, place your containers outside in a shady area or a few hours. Each day, leave them out a little bit longer, then began to move them into the sunlight. They will soon be ready to plant.


Layering is very time consuming but also very reliable. It is done in the summer using low growing herbs. Choose an outer branch of the plant and strip it of its leaves near the base. Do not cut this branch, but press it into the soil next to the plant. Secure it down by pinning it down with a U-shaped wire.

Once the new plant is established, cut the connection to the original plant and then transplant.


This method is best done in early spring. Herbs will have underground roots, bulbs or tubers. Carefully dig up your herb. Cut or separate the clump into smaller sections, about the size of your fist, with a knife. Immediately replant into the ground or in pots.

Stem Cutting

Stem cutting is best done in spring or late summer. Mature stems should be about three to four inches long and have no blooms. Strip leaves from the stem bottom, dip in water, and then in rooting hormone. Set in a pot containing rooting medium, water well and cover with a plastic bag.

Make sure the plastic bag doesn't touch the plant by inserting popsicle stick or pencil and propping the plastic bag on top of them. Again, you can use plastic margarine containers for the pots.

When your plant develops new growth you know that the roots have developed. Then, you can remove the plastic bag, water normally, harden off, and plant.

Root Cuttings

In the spring, carefully dig up a portion of an established plant and remove a root. Cut this root into 2 inch pieces. Fill a pot with a mixture of one part sand and one part peat moss and place the root section into it.

Cover with 1 inch of the mixture. Moisten with a mist and place a plastic bag over the top preserve humidity. Place the pot in indirect sun and keep moist. When you see sprouts, remove the plastic bag and water normally until the cutting is big enough to plant outside.
About the Author
For more information on Herb Gardening visit GuideForGardeners.com, a website that provides tips and information on all types of gardening.
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