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29.4.13

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?

37 comments:

  1. Great process to share, thank you. Going to share this link with some friends who have been rooting, hopefully this enhances their process a bit.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Pamela,

      Glad you found the info useful and hopefully your friends will find it helpful too.

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  2. This is great information!

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  3. Lucky man, you found Willow :-) I've been looking for months and for some reason all the Willow trees around here have disappeared or I'm no longer seeing them. Happy planting!

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous9:48 AM

      LOOK IN MARSHY OR WATERY AREAS?

      Delete
    2. Nadia,
      I have to second "Anonymous" for you to look in marshy areas. Also parks that have rivers and ponds seem to always have a bunch of willows right by the edge.

      Delete
  4. What a great idea. Who knew? Ther's a lovely willow just across the street and it's owned by a very accomodating neighbor. I see willow water in my future. Thanks!!

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    Replies
    1. Webb, neighbors who are willing to let you take some cuttings to make your own willow water are indeed very accommodating. Good luck making your own willow water tea.

      Delete
  5. Anonymous9:08 AM

    This is great to know, we have willow trees in our yard, I am definetly going to try this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous, Glad to hear that you'll give it a try.

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  6. Does it matter what species of Willow?

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    Replies
    1. Rachel,

      Nothing I have read on the subject of making your own rooting hormone from willow tea says there's a difference in the species of willow. However, I have only ever done it, and seen it done, with the narrow-leafed species of willow.

      Delete
  7. Anonymous6:06 PM

    Two things I noticed ,at a very young age,about Willow branches ;They make good switches for whippin's and if you stick them in the ground afterward they Grow into big tall Reminders !

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    Replies
    1. You're right about how quick they are to root. If you leave your willow cuttings soaking in water to make the rooting hormone, you'll see them start to root.

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  8. Anonymous8:33 AM

    Is there a time frame for storing this and using it? Can a person make a large batch and store it for use over the winter?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anon, That's a good question. Everything I have read, and from my experience, says that it will only store for about two weeks. So making large batches and storing for winter may not work. However, maybe freezing it would help keep it fresh?

      Delete
  9. Wow! I had no idea and I've been an avid gardener since I was a teen! Thank you so much for the information!! I just discovered your blog and love it!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jennifer, Thanks for the compliment. I hope you jump into the archives and see some of the older posts and hopefully get something out of them.

      Delete
  10. Anonymous1:02 PM

    Yes! I've been doing this for years and thought I was so clever. I use coastal willow in South Florida. Took a clipping from a very mature tree about 5 years ago. If you leave the twig in a bucket of water it will sprout a new willow tree. I've kept that tree growing in a container ever since and use clippings as needed. I'll put a twig with a clipping in a wine bottle and have had good success with various tropicals. Just discovered your blog and look forward to reading more.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anon,

      Your comment has me wondering how much gardening folklore knowledge is out that that many of us take as "common knowledge" but would be surprised to learn that others don't know about it. Hope you enjoy the blog!

      Delete
  11. Wow. I am new to gardening (and blogging) and as I was reading your post I had to stop and make sure that it was in English. There is so much that I do not know. Thank you for sharing what I am sure is only a tidbit of your wealth of knowledge. If you want a good giggle or cringe visit my blog, lovesacre.blogspot.com. I would love any advice you have to give.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Christine,

      Pretty much everything I learn about gardening I end up putting in the blog. There's a bit know but I keep trying to add more info as I learn it (gardeners are always learning) and hope that others find it useful.

      Delete
  12. You had me on your first sentence about bonsai being your first interest into gardening, same here. Anyhow, awesome read and you are added to my favorites, thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Todd,

      Glad to find another person who got into gardening because of bonsai. Any chance you came across bonsai because of the Karate Kid movies? That's how I ended up getting addicted to plants.

      Delete
  13. Hey that's so interesting, I will definitely experiment with this if I can find some willow!

    Your blog and photos are beautiful! thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jo,

      Hope you find some willow and get a chance to make your own rooting hormone. It's fun and easy!

      Delete
  14. What is better to root a tree, by soaking in willow water or sticking a branch in a pot of soil and water with willow water?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lou L,

      Sorry for the late reply. But are you trying to root a tree branch or stem? In general, trying to root a tree from a cutting is kind of hard. There are some tree varieties (usually ones you don't want) that strike easily in moist soil, but others need to have cuttings taken at the right time, or you need to air layer a stem. I should probably do a post on that one day.

      Delete
  15. How hot of water? Can you keep reusing your twigs and if so how long?
    The closest willow I know that of is 45" away and I know that because I planted it when it was about an inch wide, last time I visited it I couldn't get my arms around it more than twice. I'm anxious to see if it's still there. I have very fond memories as it was one of my first things I grew without killing it. I don't have a blackthumb anymore. 37 odd years ago. Pray my tree is still there. Just found your site from Pinterest and you are just what I have been looking for. Thank you

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  16. Maybe you can help me with a issue. I have some lilacs in a container that I cannot get to bloom. I was told to separate them, I did, still no blooms. These are from my step-dad who passed away and I really don't want to lose them. I live in an apt so option of planting in ground is not feasible besides we have clayish soil around here and they like well draining soil. Any suggestions? I was told to give them blood meal before winter and spring. Still no blooms. Thank you Kat

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  17. Forgot to tell you that I have had these for 6-8 years. Their not root bound but are growing every spring.
    Thank you,
    Kat

    ReplyDelete
  18. Anonymous8:02 AM

    Here's another article that explains more about the chemistry of willow water, and offers a cold water method, as well: http://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/home-made-plant-rooting-hormone-willow-water/

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  19. Very clear pics but what's the purpose of the hormones?

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  20. Can you use any type of willow? We have "Austrees" which are some sort of willow hybrid, I was wondering if they produce the same hormones as other willows?

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  21. Fantastic advice! I haven't come across this before and will definitely try it out this year. Thanks for the tip and lovely accompanying photos too. I'll share on my social media pages. It's especially timely as I've just cut my willow 'fedge' and have been trying to think of some uses for the twigs and sticks I've cut :)

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  22. I plan to share your story about willow water with my readers at Womanswork in my next newsletter. I particularly love your photos. What camera do you use? --Dorian Winslow, Womanswork www.womanswork.com

    ReplyDelete

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