Make Your Own Rooting Hormone From Willow Twigs

Bonsai was my gateway drug into gardening in my late teens. I even worked in a bonsai nursery for a bit, and one of my favorite gardening tricks I picked up in those days was to make rooting hormone from willow water. Yes, you can make your own rooting hormone from willow twigs. Use your willow water rooting hormone to start seeds, propagate cuttings and water transplants in your garden.

Make your own rooting hormone from willow twigs

What is willow water?

Simply put, willow water is made by steeping young, green twigs and branches of a willow tree in water to extract the rooting properties of the tree itself.

How to make rooting hormone from willow water

You can make rooting hormone from willow really easily. All you need is access to a willow tree, a pair of garden pruners, a container, a jar works fine, and hot water.

If, like me, you don’t have a willow tree in your yard, look for a willow tree in parkways and parks in your neighborhood. After a storm–or windy days–there will be some fallen branches you can harvest. Cut the young, green, and flexible stems and twigs and bring them home.

Ideally the twigs, stems and branches you use should not be larger than the diameter of a pencil.

Cut these down to length so they fit within your container. Your willow tree cuttings should be at least 1 inch long.

Now pour hot water in your container, in my case a mason jar, but you can use any container–even buckets, and seal it for at least 24 hours.

You now have your first batch of your very own homemade rooting hormone for free. After a minimum of 24 hours your willow rooting solution is now ready to use. Most of the recommended uses for willow rooting hormone are for propagating cuttings, but I like to use my rooting hormone to water my seedlings too.

How rooting hormone from willow water works

Willow cuttings secrete a water-soluble hormone called auxin that encourages the growth of roots. Auxins are mostli concentrated in the tips of willow branches that are showing signs of buds and new leaf growth. Auxins induce growth in pre-existing roots and create branching of the roots, resulting in stronger plants with better root systems.

How to use willow water rooting hormone

Use your willow water as a root starter for cuttings for plant propagation, recently planted and transplanted annuals, perennials, herbs, trees and even vegetables. It works wonderfully on seedlings and seedling transplants, too. Willow water is natural, and depending on where you source it, this rooting hormone can be organic too. Unlike fertilizers, you don’t need to dilute willow water rooting hormone. You can pour it directly into the soil and containers. Or you can fill a tub or tray with your homemade rooting hormone and let your plants sit in it for a few hours.

If you’re doing a lot of planting, plant propagation, and transplanting, make large batches of willow water rooting hormone by adding a handful of willow twigs to a bucket of water. We used to keep several buckets of willow tree water on hand at the bonsai nursery and used the tea to water new trees and sick plants customers would bring in to us to encourage new root growth and help the plants bounce back.

Have you ever made your own rooting hormone from willow twigs before? Or do you prefer a commercially available rooting hormone?

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