Rooting compounds are used to stimulate plant growth when propagating new cuttings. There are many chemical versions on the market but it is simple to make a natural and effective one at home. There is also the added benefit of knowing that you are not using something that was tested on animals.
The branches of willow trees (salix) contain an abundance of the chemical indolebutyric acid which regulates plant growth and development. Essentially it works as a growth hormone. The highest concentration of indolebutyric acid is in the young branches so it is best to collect the thin branches and tips. You are looking for branches that are about a quarter inch thick. If you must use older growth you will need to use more branches and it might not be as effective. Dead growth gathered from the ground is not recommended because it will contain very little indolebutyric acid, unless of course the branches have just fallen off of the tree. When obtaining your trimmings make sure that you have permission to do so and be careful to not damage the tree. Use sharp, clean, pruning shears. You don’t need much so only take what you need!
1 mason jar (or other container that will not break with boiling water in it)
Willow branch clippings
1. Cut branches into small pieces and/or smash them using a rock or hammer.
2. Fill mason jar with branch trimmings.
3. Cover trimmings with boiling or hot water.
4. Cover and let steep overnight or 24 hours.
5. Strain if desired.
6. Soak the ends of new plant cuttings in this mixture for a few hours before planting. For an added benefit, dilute the solution and use it to water the new plants. It will help to stimulate growth.
Best if used within 3 days.
Before putting new cuttings to soak in the willow mixture give it a good stir or shake to introduce some oxygen back into the water. Cuttings will do best in oxygenated water.
A diluted version of this mixture can be used to water new seedlings.