A Natural Rooting Hormone
Update from the archives: I have recently learned that while spring is the best time to make natural willow rooting hormone it will work any time of the year, not just in the spring.
Spring may be the time of year to make cuttings and increase the favorite herbs and perennials in your garden, but give it a try for the fall garden too. My windowsill is full of cuttings in water or cuttings under mini greenhouses.
It’s such a frugal way to make the most of a good purchase. I look for inexpensive plants to purchase and make them the “mother”. I do worry about the chemicals found in powdered rooting hormone and how it might affect my family’s health, though.
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My answer to this is to make Willow Water, a natural rooting hormone.
Willow Water Plant Science
There are two substances found in the willow tree that enhance root growth, Salicylic acid and Indolebutyric acid. When you make willow water, both these acids leach into the water and provide beneficial effects for your cuttings.
They help your cuttings fight off bacteria, fungi and infections – giving them a better chance to survive. They also help speed up the rooting process.
“Willow rooting hormone will help your cuttings fight off bacteria, fungi and infections “
Making Willow Rooting Hormone is Easy
You will need a handful of willow twigs, cut in early spring. USE THE GREENEST, NEWEST TWIGS YOU CAN GET, these have the highest acidic properties. If you are harvesting from a tree later in the year, choose the end shoots.
- Strip off the leaves (and compost them)
- Cut the remaining twigs into 1-inch pieces
- Put your pieces in a Mason (or glass) jar and add boiling water. I used 1/3 twigs to 2/3 water
- After 24 hours, strain the liquid into another container and compost the 1-inch pieces. I left mine out in the sun for three days and made a strong batch!
Tip: Another way of boosting the prowess of growth hormones in willow shoots, beside cutting them into 1-inch pieces, is to pound the twigs with a hammer, rock, or brick so that you expose enough of the juice and then immediately place them into water in a container.
You may also like: 7 Ways to Make Natural Rooting Hormone | PreparednessMama
Use Your Willow Water
- If you like to take cuttings and grow them in the water on the windowsill (like I do) you can add 1/2 regular water and 1/2 willow water to the container. This will help the rooting process along.
- Soak your cuttings for several hours in full strength willow rooting hormone and then plant as you normally would. The soak will give them an extra boost.
- Use your willow concoction to water in your new cuttings. Two willow waterings should be enough to give them a good start.
Willow water boosts rooting success rate of fresh cuttings by up to 90%. Commercial rooting hormones boast a 70-80% success rate, while cuttings without anything on them have a 60% success rate for rooting.
? Extra Tips:
- Willow water works great as a natural growth hormone for all plant cuttings but especially for those with woody stems.
- Some homesteaders claim that willow water is very effective at helping seeds germinate as well. Haven’t tried that one yet but it sounds fantastic.
- You can use willow water to water your already established plants – it helps them develop strong root systems; I’ve heard that aspirin in rainwater does the trick as well.
- You can make a larger batch and freeze the willow water to use it in early spring when fresh willow shoots are not readily available.
- Spit, aloe vera, cinnamon, ACV, and raw honey work as natural rooting hormones as well. Check out my related post 7 Ways to Make Natural Rooting Hormone for extra details.
Making and using DIY Willow Water is a frugal and healthy alternative to powdered rooting hormone. Try it today and let us know how your new plants are doing.
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This post was first published on July 29th, 2015 and was last updated on July 29th 2020.