Willow Water: Homemade Rooting Hormone

March 4, 2008 at 9:41 pm 10 comments

willow twigs for rooting hormoneA couple weeks ago a friend of mine noticed I was making cuttings of just about every plant I could get my hands on that might root. It’s common to use some rooting hormone to encourage the cutting to spur new roots and to protect the edge from getting “funky” in water. Instead of buying a commercial product, he suggested I make my own rooting hormone with some willow branches from a tree in his yard. He brought me a bag of cuttings from his tree and after reading some online tutorials (1), (2), I made my own batch of “willow tea” and let a succulent cutting sit in it overnight. Here is what I did…

willow twigs for rooting hormone pile

Once you have some branches, cut them into sizes that will conveniently fit into your containers, I used two glass canning jars.

willow bark slices for hormone extraction

I made some slices into the bark to make the hormone, which is contained in the material between the bark and the core, more accessible.

boiling water

Boil water.

willow tea steeping

Put the willow branches into the containers and pour the boiling water over the willow bark.

purple succulent cutting

After letting the tea cool a bit, I put the lids on the jars and stored them in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, I removed the bark so it would not go bad in the liquid. My first test was with this small succulent cutting. I used a little of the willow tea in a jar to encourage rooting. You can also just dip the ends of cuttings in the hormone mixture and then plant into soil.

I’ll be using this tea for the next few weeks and keeping the jars in the refrigerator. I’ll write again with some results of the first cuttings. Let me know if you have tried this and what your experiences have been.


Entry filed under: DIY, Home Garden. Tags: , , , .

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David  |  March 7, 2008 at 10:55 am

    The experiment looks good, I wonder if there is a difference between a cold extract and a hot extract, I might do a trail, to see which one is more effective, on some bamboo when it starts to send out runners.

  • 2. amandamaria  |  March 14, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Oh, yes, let me know how that experiment goes. And can I have some bamboo?

  • 3. jimi  |  March 29, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Hey, great tips. I have been using root hormone stuff in our new cutting tray which will be on our site very shortly. Very effective way to provide moisture to rooting plants. I am totally trying out the homemade hormone stuff.
    Keep it up. thanks.

  • 4. Ronnie  |  August 20, 2008 at 11:57 am

    I just mentioned this method in a new entry on cuttings and put a link in to this post!


  • 5. GardenGrrrl  |  September 22, 2008 at 10:47 am

    How did this experiment work out? Did you have good luck with your cuttings?

  • 6. sp  |  July 31, 2009 at 8:55 am

    where can i get willow twigs

  • 7. Wekadog  |  August 11, 2009 at 2:02 pm


    You promised us an update on how it turned out. A year later, what do you think of the technique? Still using it?

    • 8. amandamaria  |  October 14, 2009 at 5:57 pm

      It did work! But unfortunately I can’t really tell if it was the rooting hormone or all the love I gave my little starts…

  • 9. Margaret  |  October 16, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    The succulents can root very easily without hormone. Don’t mean to dampen your enthusiasm. You need to try a rooting with and wihtout the willow water, side by side. These expts have been done.

  • 10. Ann  |  September 26, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Willow twigs or small branches peeled of their bark( to release the enzymes that create the rooting hormone) chopped into smallish pieces and steeped in boiling water will make an excellent rooting hormone. Willow will grow anywhere even if you stick a branch in the ground as long as it is moist. Asprin is made from willow bark.
    In fact a mild tea made from willow bark can be used instead of commercially produced asprin. I have struck rose cuttings and hydrangeas and some perennials using willow rooting hormone with 100% strike rate.
    Ann from New Zealand


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