Plants contain a hormone called auxin that stimulates root growth. Not only do auxins cause the roots to grow in length, the hormone causes the roots to grow laterally and expand. Auxins aid the plant in creating a healthy root system with strong root hairs. You can duplicate the work of the auxin hormone through synthetic compounds. You can also make a homemade rooting compound for plants that is free of chemicals and other toxins.
Store-bought rooting hormones contain synthetic auxin that stimulates the root growth of a plant cutting. However, synthetic is not natural and the other chemicals in the store-bought compound are toxic. In fact, too much synthetic rooting hormone on the plant cutting inhibits root growth. A natural rooting compound avoids the use of harsh chemicals and other toxins. The natural auxin is more gentle on the plant and the environment.
Gathering the Material
The plant with the most auxins available for use is the willow tree. During the spring and summer, the new shoots contain enough rooting hormones to root many cuttings. Gather about 2 cups of new willow shoots and stems. You can use any species of willow tree or shrub for the homemade rooting compound. The stems should be about the thickness of a pencil.
Making the Compound
Cut the stems into 2-inch pieces and place in a large jar. Cover the twigs with warm water and seal the jar. Let the willow pieces stand in the water 48 hours. Label the jar with the date you made the rooting compound. The solution is viable for about two months if properly stored in the refrigerator.
Rooting Compound Instructions
Use the homemade rooting compound in several ways. Soak each cutting in the liquid for an hour or two before planting in a sterile growing medium. You can also plant the cuttings and water with the rooting compound. Or simply place the plant cuttings in a jar of the rooting compound. Another way to use the willow as a rooting hormone is to place two or three pieces of fresh willow stem in a jar with the cuttings and fill the jar with water. Change the water every few days to keep it fresh.
- Rice University; Genetic Analyses of Auxin Signaling in Arabidopsis; Bonnie Bartel;
- College of St. Benedict/ St. John's University; Plant Hormones - Auxin;Dr. Stephen G. Saupe; January 7, 2009
- University of Rhode Island; Propagating Houseplants by Cuttings; Jane Warner, 2001
- Bluestem Nursery; Willow Magic; Ilene Sternberg