Make willow water (a natural rooting hormone)
If you’re looking for a natural and thrifty alternative to a powdered rooting hormone, willow water is your answer. Willow water is natural plant rooting hormone that can be used to stimulate root growth when propagating plants by cuttings. The growing tips of willow branches have very high concentrations of two important hormones responsible for stimulating root growth and inducing a plant’s resistance against pathogens. We can take advantage of these beneficial properties to encourage rooting on cuttings of other plants, or to water seedlings or newly planted shrubs. Any tree or shrub in the willow family (Salix sp.) can be used to make willow water. This guide will show you how to make your own.
1. Collect young willow stems
Select the young, new growth, usually yellow or green in colour, when cutting willow stems and avoid cutting brown or woody stems as these have significantly lower concentrations of the natural rooting hormone.
2. Remove the leaves
Firmly grip the top end of the stem in one hand and slide your fingers to the bottom of the stem to strip off all leaves. Tip: Compost the leaves or use them as a mulch in the garden.
3. Cut the stems into smaller segments
Cut the willow stems into smaller segments and place in a glass jar or container.
4. Add water
Add water to the jar in a ratio of ⅓ willow stems and ⅔ water. Let the mixture soak for several days to allow extraction of the natural rooting hormones. The longer it is left to soak, the stronger the mixture will be. Tip: Label the container with the date it was made to keep track of viability. If kept in the fridge in a closed container, it will remain viable for up to two months.
5. Place your cuttings in the jar
Leave the cuttings in the jar to soak up the substance and watch it root!