In most places you can buy rooting hormones, but they aren’t available the world over.  There is nothing wrong with commercial rooting products. However, should you find yourself in a situation where you had none available, or are simply looking for a more organic method of starting new plants – here’s some interesting things to investigate.

rooting-hormone-alterntaivesSome people claim that you can effectively root cuttings with nothing but honey. Honey has some awesome healing properties and is a natural antiseptic. Its also a potent hygroscopic or water absorbing material used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. These  are the reasons honey works as a rooting agent. You’ll find recipes that tell you to add it to boiling water, but this kind of defeats your goal by diluting. Just smear it on your shears or knife so that the instant the cutting is severed from the plant it comes in contact with honey’s antiseptic properties and its ability to seal the wound. Watering it down makes no sense at all!

There are plants that many people will find easy to access that also possess some excellent root enhancing powers.

Willow of any kind will readily root from a cutting – no matter how massive the wood section might be. The same compounds that allow a huge limb or a cutting from a willow to readily root in moist soil can assist cuttings from other plants to form roots faster. There are natural plant growth hormones in abundance in both willow bark and new growth of these plants, it makes perfect sense to take advantage of them in your endeavors as a gardener. A home brewed rooting hormone known as willow water is easily made and increases root growth.

The willow species contain indolebutyric acid, a plant hormone that stimulates root growth,  and salicylic acid which is also a plant hormone that helps to signal a plant’s systematic resistance to pathogen attack. You want new growth that is in it’s first year and stem or twig as opposed to leaves. Cut your woody pieces in 1 inch long sections into a bucket or bowl. Add water and allow it to steep for several days.Strain the liquid from the shoots and you’re ready to dip cuttings into the solution.

Other plants that have healing properties that can help you root cuttings more successfully are comfrey and nettle.  Comfrey, as valuable source of organic fertility, contains a natural cell stimulant called allontoin. Stinging nettle can create a rooting growth stimulant even from a dried state. Both have been used in natural medicine.

Tammy Clayton

Tammy Clayton

Content crafter and Senior Editor at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home. (Some feel she's got a perennial obsession, others say the problem is tomato plants.)

If you don't find her at the desk - check the gardens. When not writing and weeding, she enjoys a good book, painting junk furniture, and blending the harvest of heirloom tomatoes and chiles into salsas.
Tammy Clayton

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