I'm brand, brand new to gardening, and I have a feeling this may be a silly question... but I've found myself wondering it nevertheless.

I've bought a basil growing kit (a pot, some soil and some seed) and have grown a small plant that I'm using the leaves from every few weeks. I started to look into how to promote further growth in the plant (i.e. whether I should repot it into a larger pot; plant it in the garden; etc etc).... when I realised that basil is an annual plant, and my dreams of always having basil to pick may not become a reality.

I've found a quick guide on how to use basil cuttings to grow additional plants (basically, put them in water, wait till roots grow, then replant).

And thus my question: assuming this works, can this technique be used in general, to kinda make an annual that will last forever?

  • 1
    Basil is really easy to grow from seed, which (inside) you can start any time of year. This is a good time of year to pick up a packet of basil seed at gardens stores. It'll serve as backup if your rooting plan ever fails. If you're growing outdoors, basil is a good candidate for seed saving. I've been restarting each year off some seeds I collected back in 2013. In a few more years, I'll have to collect seed again. Apr 17, 2016 at 14:07

3 Answers 3


Well, yes and no, or maybe. Annual plants have one purpose - to grow, flower, be pollinated and fertilized, set seed and die, all in a year. Then there's biennials - these form, usually, a basal clump of leaves one year, then flower the following year, set seed and die. Other plants that are considered 'annuals' may actually be perennial, but either look unattractive or lanky after the first year, or they're growing somewhere it gets too cold in winter and the winter kills them, and an example of this sort of plant is petunias. There are other groups of plants - hardy herbaceous perennials, which die back to the ground and reappear the following spring, and hardy perennials that remain evergreen, and separately, sub shrubs, shrubs and trees, which are mostly the woody based plants.

With your basil, which is, as you say, an annual plant, it may be possible to overwinter cuttings you've taken towards the end of summer, and have them growing the following year, taking cuttings of new growth again and so on. You could certainly give it a try.

  • Thanks for explaining Bamboo! I'll try it and see how I go. :)
    – Tim Malone
    Apr 17, 2016 at 21:48

If you use a large enough pot, say 24 inches, you can just let the basil reseed itself, but it depend on the basil. Some basil grow tiny little black seeds that don't drop from the flower hips so easily, and some basil have larger white seeds that just fall out when they are ready.

If you buy seed, you'll know which you have. The big white seeds are easier because you don't have to do anything. The tiny black seeded varieties need a little help. When the plant dies back, carefully pull it out of the soil, then run your hand down the flower spikes to rub off the flower hips into the pot. Don't worry the seeds will germinate and sprout right inside the flower hips if they are sitting on the soil and the soil kept humid.

You will have never ending basil just like you wanted and almost like a perennial because you'll always have some plants at every stage of growth.

  • Thanks Escoce - I think it was the black seed I ended up with for this. I will give this a go when the plant dies, thanks so much for the advice! Might try getting the white seeds too.
    – Tim Malone
    Apr 20, 2016 at 21:21

Possibly, but there are other ways.

  1. Why not take a chunk of basil at the end of the year, roots and all, and put it in your house in a pot?
  2. You can also let the basil outside die back and collect the seed. Or collect seed anytime seed pods dry out. Then you know the seeds are "ready". Myself, I just collect the seeds in clean medicine bottles and label the bottles with the seed name and year collected.
  • Thanks Bulrush, I think I'm going to go ahead and try both of these. :)
    – Tim Malone
    Apr 20, 2016 at 21:22

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