Can I replant rooted herbs I got from a grocery store?
July 25, 2008 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Can I replant rooted herbs I got from a local grocery store?

My local grocery store sells a bunch of healthy basil, the roots and everything. I know with some plants like scallions you can plant it in dirt and be able to grow it, but wasn't sure about rooted herbs.

Anyone with green thumb that's tried this?

I heard somewhere that once things have been rooted you can't plant it again to grow, but trees get replanted all the time.
posted by icollectpurses to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Herbs get separated and transplanted all the time, since they're prone to going nuts. I have perpetrated all kinds of violence on a massive pot of oregano, and it's fine. I put some of it where the dogs step on it. It refuses to die.

You're out a dollar or two if it doesn't take - several of my local stores sell little pint pots of basil and the like for $2.50, so don't spend too much more than that per bunch. It should take, so long as it hasn't been too abused in the store and you pamper it a bit. I'd not put it in direct sunlight right away, as it's been inside and will be prone to sun and windburn and heat, but if you pot it inside near a sunny window and let it recover, it should be okay.

If you're going to put it outside eventually, read about "hardening off" anywhere on the internet. You don't generally stick a plant that's been inside straight off into the sun/wind/heat, you get it acclimated first. It's easy enough.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:25 AM on July 25, 2008

Best answer: I have done this several times. I separate them into smaller clumps, as these herbs are grown with a LOT of seeds to a pot (to get a large head of leaves), which is not sustainable once the plants spread out. Sometimes the clumps don't all take (as you have to carefully tease apart and split the root-ball to do this), but there is really no reason why it should not work. In fact, I have a pot of cilantro on my kitchen counter that I am about to plant in a few minutes!
When I buy these herbs intending to plant them, I tend to choose the smallest/greenest herbs of the selection, as this means they have more growth in them. When planted very close together, as these have been, leaf-plants tend to "shoot" -- grow upwards rather than outwards and develop too quickly. This means that plants which produce seed, such as cilantro, will go to seed far quicker than a plant that you have grown from seed. I separate them into clumps, plant them in a large window box that I place out on the porch, and water them very well for a week or so. Use a soil-based compost of you have one, as it retains moisture better and gives a better yield than peat-based. Put them where it is not too hot (i.e. not under glass) and where they will get a lot of light. I pinch out the growth at the tips of each plant, to make them grow bushier (more lateral branches). If you keep pinching off the growth at the very tip of each branch, once it grows out a bit, you will get a lot more herb-leaves to use and also delay flowering (which tends to be the last stage of an annual's growth, after which the leaves die back). This maximizes your yield of herbs.
posted by Susurration at 9:30 AM on July 25, 2008

It's worth doing with perennial herbs like rosemary, thyme, and tarragon. I wouldn't bother with dill or basil, as they are usually picked in their tender, non flowering stage and all they will do once you get them growing again is go to seed and die (going to seed is called "bolting", and as that's happening, the herbs get tough and bitter).
posted by oneirodynia at 10:02 AM on July 25, 2008

I've got a couple plants on my balcony that started out as bagged supermarket basil. Even though oneirodynia is right and they'll bolt soon, you can still definitely double your basil by planting them. Pinch the leaves off that you need for tonight's dinner, plant the rest, and every leaf that grows is a bonus.
posted by bink at 10:15 AM on July 25, 2008

The way my Mum did it was to replant it into a bigger pot and put it outside for longer and longer periods of time, until finally just leaving it outside.

I, on the other hand, didn't replant them and now they are all dead. o.o
posted by InterfaceLeader at 10:38 AM on July 25, 2008

Yes you can, especially basil. Most herbs root like crazy. I actually have never bought a basil plant, I always just snip a little piece off from someone else's and stick it in dirt. I used to volunteer at a community garden and we started out with one basil plant, I would snip the end off each branch to encourage it to get bushier (like Susurration is talking about) and just stick the pinched off parts in the ground. Pretty soon we had more basil than we knew what to do with.
posted by bradbane at 11:08 AM on July 25, 2008

I have successfully replanted the Basil like this. Water liberally.
posted by caddis at 11:15 AM on July 25, 2008

An aspect I forgot: when your basil bolts, it's not the end of the world; you get free seeds for next year! (Or for over the winter if you have a sunny place to grow plants.)
posted by bink at 1:08 PM on July 25, 2008

As mentioned above, with basil you don't even need to plant the rooted part. Just take any old stem, root it, & plant it. I like to put the stem in a cup of water until it roots out, then plant it. But you can try just planting it straight into soil as well (keep damp until it starts to take off).
posted by flug at 3:36 PM on July 25, 2008

« Older It's up to you, New York!   |   What to do with all my idle hours? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.