When you are looking through the fresh herbs in your produce department to cook with, you look for the greenest, freshest looking, and most fragrant herbs that you can find. There is no difference when you are purchasing herbs to try to grow.
These are all signs that your herbs are fresh or want to still keep growing even though they have been harvested from their mother plants.
After you get home from the market, take your herbs out of the packages and give them a thorough rinse under cool water. While you are doing this, strip all of the leaves off of the bottom 2/3 of the stem. Pinch them off with your fingers, or use a knife or scissors to remove them, being careful to not harm the stem of the cutting.
In order to root herbs in dirt, you will need a way to keep your cuttings in a humid environment. Special terrariums can be bought from the garden store for a fairly reasonable price.
What I like to do though to save money, is to use plastic clam shell packaging from the deli, bakery, or produce section. They're going to be thrown away after the contents are consumed anyway. Might as well use them again since they've been paid for once already.
All you need to do to start your plants is poke some drainage holes in the bottom, and fill them with soil. Then plant your plants deep enough to where at least two sets of nodes (where you took the leaves from) are in the soil. Keep the soil moist by misting it gently with a spray bottle and in about two weeks your cuttings will begin to root.
Rooting the cuttings in water is much the same as rooting the cuttings in soil, but not all herbs will make roots this way. Lavender for instance, will rot instead of setting roots.
In order to root your herb cuttings, fill a container with water deep enough to cover two nodes on the stems. When you put the stems in the water be sure that no leaves are in the water or they will rot and kill the cuttings. Be sure to not crowd the containers either because bad air circulation will also kill off the cuttings. Change the water every two to three days to keep it fresh, and in about two weeks you should be seeing roots.
Note: All of your cuttings will need light, but try not to let them get above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you do they will steam in their environments.
In order to transplant your herbs into their final homes, you need to be extra careful with the new root systems that they are starting to develop.
The herbs that were started in dirt are a little bit easier to transplant in my opinion. After their new home has been assigned, a hole just large enough to accept the root ball needs to be dug in the soil. Then carefully remove the plant from its container, and lower the root ball into the hole. Back fill the soil around the roots and water it in.
The part that makes transplanting the water starts harder is the bare roots. They are really fragile and easy to break. Just dig a hole deep enough to accept all of the roots, and lower the roots into the hole. Fill the hole back in with dirt very gently, and resist the urge to pack it too tightly. Water the soil around the herbs a little more heavily than you would other transplants. This will help the soil to settle in naturally around the roots.
Michael (author) from Indiana, PA on December 01, 2018:
I agree. I got really discouraged a lot of times after patiently waiting for all that time. Then killing my plants by not being careful when I was transplanting them. Now I just loosely backfill around them and let the water do what it does.
Don Shepard on December 01, 2018:
This is great info to get out. Transplanting and the resulting shock risk is where I always had problems. My better half finally got through to me that transplanting roots takes patience and care.