Once you came across the art of propagation, you would like to take more cuttings, have a go on the medium and hard to root plants. There are many things to consider when propagating plants: what is the best rooting medium or what plants will root in water. And, of course, we want all of our cuttings to root and be healthy.
So, how do we achieve a better success rate and improve the roots? The answer is rooting hormone. If you hear about it for the first time, I have put together a post which tells you exactly what it is and if rooting gel is better than powder.
In this post we will discuss if there are natural alternatives to commercially available options that you can use instead of rooting hormone. Also, at the end of the article you will find how to make a rooting hormone at home
Gardeners are constantly on the search for natural ingredients to improve cuttings to root, here is a list of most popular options:
- Aloe Vera
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Human Saliva
- Willow Tree Tea
But are these natural products act as rooting hormone? Let’s find out.
Can you use Aloe Vera as rooting hormone?
Aloe Vera gel is not a natural rooting hormone, however, it consists of 75 potentially active components and one of them is salicylic acid (SA) which has antibacterial properties. So, by tapping the cutting in Aloe Vera gel you will kill bacteria and fungus which, therefore, increases the chances of cuttings to root.
To make Aloe Vera gel solution for cuttings at home you need a fresh Aloe Vera leaf, sterilized glass shot, sterilized knife and sterilized teaspoon.
- Take the fresh Aloe Vera leaf and peel the green outer layer with the knife.
- Take a spoon and scoop the gel out into the glass shot.
- Use the spoon to blend the gel into a smooth mixture without lumps (you can also add a little bit of water if the gel is too thick)
- Dip the cuttings into the gel and make sure to cover the end inch completely.
Is honey a natural rooting hormone?
Although honey is not a natural rooting hormone, it has antifungal properties meaning that it will kill fungus and increases rooting success rate. Its kills fungus by removing the water from it. That is why you shouldn’t dip the cutting into a pure honey as it’s very concentrated and along with fungus will harm your cuttings.
To use honey to propagate cuttings take a half teaspoon of pure honey and mix it in 1 cup of warm water. Mix it well and let it cool down to room temperature. Dip the cuttings into the cup to cover the end of cutting.
Does cinnamon work as a rooting hormone?
Cinnamon has no natural rooting hormone in its composition, so it is not going to work to form roots. However, it does have some antibacterial and antifungal properties helping to grow healthy roots from cuttings.
To make a natural stimulant to promote root growth you need to take ground cinnamon and dip the end inch of the cutting into the powder covering the surface completely.
Can I use apple cider vinegar as a rooting hormone?
Apple cider vinegar is an acid and doesn’t have rooting hormone in its composition. DO NOT use it for cuttings as it is an organic weed killer and affects soil pH. Growers use apple cider vinegar to fertilize soil for only acid-loving plants like blueberry bushes, gardenias and azaleas.
Human Saliva (Spit) as rooting hormone
Human saliva doesn’t contain natural rooting hormones (auxins), however it consists of epidermal growth factor (EGF) which is enhances plant growth rate and promotes cell division of epicotyl.
It is a region of a seedling stem that is important at the beginning stages of a new plant’s life. So, human saliva can be used to improve rooting of the cuttings but it is not a rooting hormone itself.
Can I use aspirin as a rooting hormone?
Even though aspirin consists of acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) which is chemically similar to salicylic acid (SA) naturally occurring in plants, aspirin is not a rooting hormone. There is no synthetic or natural auxin, a rooting hormone present in plants, in its composition.
Willow tree tea for plant growth
Willow tree bark has two active ingredients for root growth: salicylic acid (SA) and Indole-3-butyric acid (IBA). Salicylic acid has antibacterial and antifungal properties meaning that it is going to kill fungus and bacteria affecting root growth.
IBA is a natural rooting hormone found in majority of plants that promotes root development. To derive it from the Willow tree many growers recommend to soak the bark in water to make a Willow Water also known as Willow tea.
How to make your own rooting hormone?
Tools that you need for this project:
- Glass Jar/ large bowl or container (not plastic) with lid
- Willow Tree branches
The key to success is to harvest the shoots of the newest growth in spring. Look for new green shoots, these are typically the tips on the branches. Cut around 10 cm from the end of the tip. Harvest from 5 to 10 shoots. Take off all the leaves (you can use these later to make a tea and drink it yourself).
Chop the shoots so they are just a few centimeters long and place them into a glass jar. If you are using a glass jar, the rate is going to be one third of the jar filled with Willow branches and two thirds filled with warm water. Close the jar with the lid.
If you don’t have a glass jar, you can use a mixing bowl or container, preferably not plastic and fill it with 100 grams of Willow shoots and 0.5 liter of warm water. Cover the bowl or container with the lid.
Let the Willow water stand for at least 2 days and 2 night in a dark place. Transfer the liquid into a new jar, separate the liquid from the branches with a sieve. Dip the cuttings one by one before planting.
Surjushe, A., Vasani, R., & Saple, D. G. (2008). Aloe vera: a short review. Indian journal of dermatology, 53(4), 163–166. doi: 10.4103/0019-5154.44785
Ryoichi Kato, Erina Nagayama, Takashi Suzuki, Kenko Uchida, Tomoko H. Shimomura, Yoshinori Harada, Promotion of Plant Cell Division by an Epidermal Growth Factor, Plant and Cell Physiology, Volume 34, Issue 6, September 1993, Pages 789 793, https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.pcp.a078485