Are you interested in growing your own herbs but are wondering where to begin? If so, you have found the perfect post to get started. Today we are going to take a look at the 2 most common methods of herb propagation: using seed or making cuttings.
Let’s get started!
A form of sexual reproduction, seeds are the result of either self or cross-pollination. If a flower is cross pollinated, the plant that grows from the seed will have different characteristics from either of the parent plants. It is therefore important that you buy your seed from reputable retailers, so you know their exact characteristics. Certified seed will also germinate and grow better, giving you a greater payoff. If you’re looking for more information on the best methods to sow seed, you can check out this video.
Unlike seeds, growing herbs from cuttings is a form of vegetative reproduction. Therefore, the cutting and the mother plant from which it is taken will have the same characteristics. If you are unsure about exactly how to take cuttings, we have a great instructional video showing all the steps you need to follow, so be sure to check it out!
Now that we have a bit of background on the 2 methods, we can start comparing them. To determine which method is best for you, we are going to focus on 4 factors, including:
When determining which method is best for you, the first thing you need to consider is the kind of herb you want to grow. The most important thing you need to know is whether your herb is an annual or a perennial.
Annual herbs complete their lifecycle within a single growing season, while perennials can continue to grow and flower year after year. Annuals include herbs like basil and coriander. Most herbs, however, are perennials and include thyme, rosemary and lavender. If the herb you want to grow is an annual, you should rather grow them using seeds.
Perennials grown from cuttings can mature over the years, whilst annual cuttings will likely bolt and flower, preventing any further development. Keep in mind some herbs are quite difficult to root, whilst others do not perform well when grown from seed.
Whilst both methods are quite simple to perform, growing herbs from seed is probably the easiest. You need only 3 basics to grow your seed: germination mix, pots or trays and water. You can use additional tools like cling film and germination enhancers if you wish, but even without these you can simply sow your seeds onto the soils in the trays and keep them moist.
Making cuttings requires a few extra steps and some principles need to be understood. It is best to take cuttings from soft, new growth because it will root better than hard stems. You will need secateurs, rooting medium, pots, and water. Simply place your cuttings in the rooting medium, and you can dip the ends in rooting hormone to encourage root development.
In both instances, it is important to keep the seeds and cuttings moist in a warm area. Be sure to keep your young plants out of direct sunlight and never let the soil completely dry out.
Cuttings are advantaged by their short production cycle. Immediately after placing the cuttings in the rooting medium, you already have new, albeit unrooted, plants. Seeds first need to germinate and establish themselves before they can mature and become harvestable. Therefore, if time is limited, then you should grow your herbs from cuttings. Either take cuttings from the herbs you have or buy a couple of starter plants from a reputable nursery or garden centre. From these, you can continually propagate additional herbs year after year.
Ultimately, each method will be suited to a certain situation. If you enjoy growing seeds as a hobby, then you may get more enjoyment from that method than by making cuttings. A packet of seeds may be cheaper than purchasing mature plants, but you will need to invest more care into your seedlings. If you want to practice cross-pollinating varieties, then you must know how to germinate the seeds. To preserve the characteristics of these new varieties, you will need to make cuttings.
At the end of the day, seeds and cuttings both have their unique advantages and drawbacks that make them suited to different situations. We hope this video gave you a better idea of which method is perfect for you. You may even want to use both to find out for yourself which works best. Remember to check out the description for your own downloadable copy of our herb propagation guide. Thanks for watching and see you next time.