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You can make willow water, then use it for a DIY rooting hormone!
Have a favorite shrub or bush you would love to have two or three more of, to plant in your yard? Use this awesome DIY method to make rooting hormone from willow branches or willow twig and get your plant cuttings off to their very best start.
Taking cuttings from shrubs you already have is a great way to increase the number of plants you have at no cost. Or maybe you have a neighbor or friend who needs to trim their shrubs and has some cuttings for you.
That’s the perfect way to propagate cuttings to grow your own shrubs and plants for free. And it’s not hard to learn how to take cuttings from shrubs.
It’s always a good idea to dip or soak the cut stems in some type of a rooting hormone. There are properties within the rooting hormone that stimulates root growth and plant health.
And you do want your cuttings to be as healthy as possible so they grow into healthy mature bushes for using in your yard landscaping.
There are several different kinds of shrub rooting gels that you can buy and later we will recommend our top rooting gel that we have used many times. For now, let’s discuss how to make your own pussy willow water.
Make Willow Water – DIY Rooting Hormone
Did you know that you can make your own rooting hormone using willow water made from willow trees? This willow rooting hormone recipe is completely natural and easy to make.
Here’s how to make rooting hormone to use for propagating cuttings from shrubs! And….it’s all about the willows!
If you have willows growing anywhere near you and you can take some cuttings from new willow shoots you can use this powerful plant to supercharge your new (or established) plants!
Whether you have upright willows or a weeping willow, willow tree rooting hormone can be made from either type.
Where Do Willows Grow Naturally?
Willows, from the genus Willow Salix, can grow in a weeping form but also more upright. Not to be confused with the American water-willow flower, these trees are often naturally found growing near lakes and rivers, because willows really do love the water.
They grow in the Northern Hemisphere throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Willow trees grow best in locations that provide ample sunlight and moisture.
You can see a hedge row of living willows in the photo – long ago, there was a ditch dug along that fence line to carry water away from the pasture.
Since willows love water so much, they started growing along the ditch. If you are looking at for property and notice a lot of willows (or a line of willows), that suggests strongly there is water on the property. Where there are willows, there is water.
Overall Benefits of Using Willow Water as Rooting Hormone
Making rooting hormone from willows helps plants and cuttings to take root faster. This simple root hormone water recipe will encourage plant rooting of plant cuttings so they can grow into new plants for use on the homestead.
What Time of Year is Best to Make Willow Water?
You can make and use homemade willow water at any time of the year. However, Spring is definitely the best season to make willow water.
During the spring season, your willows will have fresh limbs to clip and have plenty of time to restore themselves before the winter season arrives.
Does Willow Water Really Make a Difference to the Growth?
Rooting hormone, like willow water, is typically used on cuttings to help them root quicker. It also helps a plant resist certain pathogens that may be harmful. Some cuttings will grow faster using this hack, whereas other plants may not.
When testing most plants, especially shrubs and perennial plants with willow water, I’ve found the roots grow quicker and in larger supply when using the willow water rooting hormone.
Watering Plants with Rooting Hormone
Willow water can help with your existing plants, too. Some people put aspirin in rainwater to help their established plants root better (because it has acetylsalicylic acid, or ASA, similar to a compound found naturally in willow hardwood), but you can make this natural fertilizer instead and use that on your plants.
Adding some willow water to your already established pants will encourage strong root growth for healthier plants that will thrive.
Willow water is an excellent option for rooting hormone to use on cuttings and other plants that need a little boost in root growth for plant propagation.
How Does Willow Water Work as a Rooting Hormone?
Synthetic rooting hormone contains high concentrations of auxins like Indolebutyric Acid which promote growth. And willow trees just happen to be an excellent natural source of Indolebutyric Acid (IBA), especially the new shoots.
The Willow tree also contains Salicylic Acid which is a source of defense. Its presence is what will allow your Willow Water to protect your cuttings from threats like infection from bacteria and fungi.
Willow trees as a natural plant are known for their rapid growth, largely because of the high quantity of these components. And it is because of them that Willow Water is such an effective tool in getting your shrub trimmings to take root and grow.
If you have access to a willow tree, you can make rooting hormone any time you need it for its beneficial effect – throughout the year. However, there’s a good reason your willow water will be strongest in the springtime.
The fresher the growth of the trimmings from the willow branch you use – the better! That is where the presence of the growth hormones is the strongest, and it will make your “potion” even more potent.
How to Make Willow Water Rooting Hormone
Willow Water Recipe
- Simply harvest the newest stems and twigs you can. Keep in mind that your Willow Water yield will be approximately three times the volume of the trimmings you pull. So, if you are hoping to make three cups of rooting hormone, you’ll want to gather around a cup of trimmings. Want pruning tips to correctly take cuttings from shrubs and plants?
- Break down your trimmings before soaking, in order to release their essence. You can do this by removing the leaves and cutting the stems and twigs into pieces one inch or smaller.
- Or you can do this by breaking and crushing them with a hammer. Either way works. Just keep the willow bark on, no need to remove it!
- Once cut up, put your trimmings in a glass container or Mason jar with boiling water. You are looking for a two to one ratio here. So, again, if you have around a cup of willow trimmings, add two cups of boiling tap water to your jar.
- After the water is added, let the water cool a bit so you can handle the jar. Set it in a safe location where it can catch sunlight for two to three days.
- Once your jar is done steeping, filter out your trimmings with a sieve or strainer before using or storing your Willow Water. Fix with a tight-fitting lid to keep it fresh.
How to Use Willow Water
Use this DIY willow water mixed 1 to 1 with fresh water to soak cuttings in liquid when you want them to make roots. Alternately, you can simply dip the plant cuttings into the water before setting them in the earth. You can also use another growth medium like peat moss, perlite, or sand.
I like to plant the rooted cuttings close together (basically in a nursery bed) for the first year instead of planting in their final spot. This way, I can keep a closer eye on the plants, make sure they are settling in well and I can feel confident they are going to grow well.
Store any unused Willow Water in a cool, dark place.
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own rooting hormone, we can recommend a really good rooting gel that you can buy – you can get it on Amazon. It’s called TechnaFlora Rootech Cloning Gel.
This one is our favorite commercial rooting hormone, by far. We used it when we started growing a laurel privacy hedge from cuttings. You can read through the step by step process of starting a hedge from cuttings right here.
Use this DIY hack to make willow water when starting new cuttings!
More Useful Articles
- Learn to take cuttings from established hedges, shrubs and plants – tips are right here!
- Looking for more Gardening Tips? Here’s an article with lots of information found on our site.
- Here’s just how to care for pruning shears so they last for years!
- Dealing with overgrown shrubs in an overgrown yard? Use these hacks to get your yard and garden in shape.
- Learn more about willow trees here.
Originally published September 2021; latest update November 2022