Herbs & Spices · Life lessons from the farm · Siam King & Queen

Taiwanese Basil Update: Water to soil (finally)

Okay firstly, I have to quote myself from 14 days ago:

If all goes well (fingers crossed), within less than a week, roots will be forming from the nodes, and then it will be time to transfer to pots.

Well, that didn’t happen. Roots didn’t form on the Taiwanese basil 九層塔 (both white and red) stems “within less than a week”. In fact, for quite a while there was not much going on.

By day 4, no signs of any roots were found. I was still changing out the water every day and using a water spray to wet the leaves, but I was starting to worry…

Mar 15-10

Along the way, there were some observations and learning:

  1. I would sometimes see bubbles in the water, mostly along the stems
    – A good sign?? Bubbles means something is happening, right?
  2. They do not like direct sunlight, and get droopy after too long under direct sunlight. They recovered fine after moving them to a more shaded area.

On day 9, there was still no sign of roots. Nada.

Being the beginner that I am, I lack self-confidence and was beginning to question if I messed up along the way… Was the plant in heat when I took the cutting? Maybe this method won’t work for this species? Do their stems qualify as woodier stems and should have been started in soil directly? The questions went on and on in my head.

So, to quiet the noise a little, I decided to do an experiment. I moved one of the white-stemmed basil into a pot. I figured it was worth a try.

5 days later today, it is still alive. I can’t tell if roots have formed, but the leaves and stems seems to be growing stronger. Curious how its growth would compare to the one still in water.

Mar 15-24

What about the other stems still soaked in water? In hindsight, I may have just needed a little patience and wait it out.

On day 11, two days after the planting-one-in-soil experiment, I was seeing roots on those other stems. Yay!

The placement however was unexpected. Instead of being on the nodes, they were showing up at the end of the stems (where it was cut off from original plant).

Mar 17-09

Since then, roots have been growing steadily, and here is what they look like today (day 14). The roots are now around 1cm.

Mar 20-03

The You Grow Girl how-to guide that I’m referring to suggests “Once healthy roots have formed, pot up or plant the new plants in-ground and you’re done.”

Hmm… not sure if mine qualifies as “healthy roots”, but I felt it was time to move to them into pots as roots are beginning to form upwards on one of the stems.


I’m separating the two different species, with the white-stemmed joining the previously planted same-species stalk, and the red in another container.

For the white-stemmed, I covered the roots entirely in soil, but left the node in the air, because I observed tiny leaves forming. However, this made it a little top-heavy, tilted, and less grounded (on the left in the image below). Will continue to monitor closely to avoid toppling down.

Mar 20-19

With the red-stemmed, since I cut them slightly shorter to begin with, and there were no signs of leaves forming out of the nodes, I covered the stems – including nodes – into the soil. Some of the larger leaves were a little droopy, almost touching the soil, hence I placed them near the rim of the container with their larger leaves resting on the outer rim of the pot. Not sure if it matters, but I’d like to think that I’m helping to lower the risk of the leaves rotting from being in contact with moist soil for too long.

Mar 20-16

Lesson learned, patience is vital in farming. The next time I feel uneasy and unconfident, hopefully I will think back to this experience. They just needed a little more time.

The journey of Siam King & Siam Queen

The Vege Girl Project: Day 17


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