Increase the success of your cuttings by using natural rooting hormone
My favorite fragrant rosemary plant needs a good trim. I have several kinds of rosemary, but this particular plant grows upright and gets about 3 feet tall. It smells wonderful and I use it for cooking.
Since I think you can never have too much rosemary, I’m going to dehydrate some of it and use the rest to increase my bounty – I’m making rosemary cuttings.
I’m concerned about the chemicals found in powdered rooting hormone and how it might affect my family’s health, so I’ve done some research and found 6 ways to make your own natural rooting hormone.
Why I use rooting hormone
I have never been able to achieve a 100% cutting survival rate. Some of them always die – it’s just a fact of life I guess. I do know that when I take the time to use rooting hormone, I have a better success rate with the new starts. Usually in the 75% range. I’ll take that!
Rooting hormone acts as a catalyst for the new roots and protects the cuttings from fungus and disease that may have been introduced during the cutting process.
A word about rooting medium
Rooting medium is the mixture that you will use to grow your new plants. It is NOT garden soil, but much lighter. In fact, it is most likely not soil at all. You can purchase premade rooting medium at any garden center (they’ll call it seed starting mix) or you can use a combination of pre-moistened potting soil, perlite, vermiculite, sand, coconut coir, or sphagnum moss.
The key is to choose something that will retain water and not be too dense for the newly sprouting roots.
Six Ideas for Rooting Hormone
No matter which method you choose, there is one important thing to remember. It’s not sanitary to stick cuttings directly into the original container of rooting hormone. The moisture on the cutting will degrade the remaining hormone in the container. Pour a small amount of the medium into a jar or paper cup and use that for dipping. It will keep your original rooting hormone fresh and ready to use for next time.
#1 Spit on them! Use your own saliva, which is said to be a natural root enhancer. I’m not sure how it works exactly because mouths are notoriously dirty, but go ahead and give it a try. There isn’t any advance preparation needed. Some die-hards suggested that you just give the cuttings a lick, however that’s not practical if you have hundreds of cuttings to make or if that plant is poisonous. I say – get your son to spit in a cup and use that. He’ll love a reason to do it and you will get your cuttings rooted.
I say – get your son to spit in a cup and use that. He’ll love a reason to do it and you will get your cuttings rooted.
#2 Use Apple Cider Vinegar – AVC has over 30 trace elements that are beneficial to plant growth. Go lightly though, because vinegar is also a good weed killer. All you need to do is mix 3 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar into 1 gallon of water and dip your cutting in it then transfer them to the rooting medium.
#3 Open the kitchen cabinet and grab your jar of cinnamon – Cinnamon kills fungus and bacteria and will help to keep those cuttings free of disease while rooting. You can double the fun and dip your cutting in saliva or willow tea and then cinnamon, they go hand in hand. Cinnamon will minimize off damping off in your seed flats as well.
#4 Honey is also naturally anti-bacterial and will benefit your new cuttings. To make a honey rooting hormone, take a few simple steps:
a.) boil 2 cups of water
b.) add 1 Tablespoon of honey
c.) let the mixture cool and place it in a covered container (like a canning jar). Store your honey rooting hormone away from the light. It will last about 2 weeks. To use: dip cuttings in the solution then pot up as usual.
To use: dip the cuttings in the solution then pot them up as usual.
#5 Aspirin crushed into powder and dissolved in water is also said to be an effective rooting hormone. While this might not be technically “natural” is is something you probably have around the house that could be used in a pinch.
#6 Make willow tea – directions can be found in this previous post – DIY Willow Water, a Natural Rooting Hormone. Willows are their most potent in the spring when the trees begin to leaf out, but you can make this mixture any time. Use only the stems from new growth.
My rosemary cuttings are on the shelf and looking good! Use these 6 simple do it yourself natural rooting hormone tricks to boots the success of your cutting this year.
What is your favorite way to root cuttings? Do you use any of these techniques?