Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Willow Water: Nature's Root Planting Hormone

We have all seen that one tree or plant that makes us wish we had one exactly like it. While there are many plants and trees that can be grown from cuttings, there are just as many that require a root hormone to get a cutting to grow. If you look at your local nursery or home garden center, you can find many root planting hormone products. These can be liquid or powder in form and require very little to get you started. But, why buy when you can the same thing for free?

I have been very fortunate with my plants. With the exception of a very few, they have all been given to me by friends and family. Most of my plants came from cuttings or were given to me as small plants that had a good established root system.

But, my neighbor has this beautiful blossoming cherry tree that I would love to get a cutting from! So in my quest for a greener way to do things, I started searching the web. I found this very interesting article on making Willow Water to use as a root hormone for plants. What is really great about this method is that it is easy, relatively fast to do and free! No trips to the nursery, no powders that may or may not work after an extended period of time, and I don't have to find a place to store anything!

Before I give you the recipe please note that you can use any member of the Willow family including pussy willows! So look around your yard or neighborhood or park for willow trees to make your own root hormone.

Willow Water:

1. Collect first year twigs and stems of any willow species,these have green or yellow bark. Don't use older growth that has brown or gray bark.

2. Remove all the leaves as you do not need these. You can add these to your compost or mulch in the garden.

3. Take the twigs and cut them in to about 1" long pieces.

4.  The next step is to add water. There are a couple of ways to extract the natural root planting hormones:
     A) place the twigs in a container and cover with boiling water, as in making tea and allow the "tea" to sit overnight.
     B) Place the twigs in a container and cover with unheated tap water and let is soak for several days.

5. When finished, separate the twigs/stems from the liquid by pouring carefully or using a strainer. Your liquid is now ready to use! You can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 months.

6. To use, just pour some into a small jar and put the cuttings in the liquid and leave overnight or for several hours so they can soak up the plant rooting hormone. Then prepare them as you would when propagating any other cuttings.

The second way to use willow water is to use it to water the propagating medium in which you have placed your cuttings. Watering twice with willow water should be enough to get them on their way.

I can't wait to try this with roses and hydrangeas from my sister's garden and of course the cherry tree from my neighbor!

As always I would love to hear your comments. Happy rooting!

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