Hormones for Better Rooting

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20150325ASpring is the perfect season for starting stem cuttings of houseplants (indoors) and from the new growth of shrubs, vines and perennials (outdoors). It’s a cheap and easy way of obtaining new plant material.

Most non-woody (herbaceous) cuttings, like coleus and begonias, root readily: just slip the lower part of the cut stem into moist growing mix, cover the cuttings with a clear plastic dome, keep them warm and moderately lit… and don’t let them dry out until they’ve rooted. Job done!

Cuttings of woody plants, though, are often reluctant to root… but not if you use rooting hormone. This kind of product is available in any garden center. Just apply a bit to the base of a cutting, using either a Q-tip or plunging the cutting tip into the hormone itself. Shake off any surplus: too much hormone will slow down rooting rather than improve it! Then, as before, slip your cutting into moist mix and cover with clear plastic. Place the cuttings in a bright, warm spot protected from direct sun. You’ll know they’re rooted when new leaves appear at the top of the cutting.

20150325BYou don’t like the idea of commercial rooting hormone? Try willow water. Cut a few fresh stems of any willow that is available to you, mash them up a bit with a hammer and let them soak for 24 to 48 hours in a glass of water. This produces a hormone-enriched liquid in which you can place your cuttings. Just place the stems into the willow water… and wait.

Be forewarned: don’t leave cuttings in a glass of water too long or they’ll produce long roots impossible to transplant. You should pot them up as soon as you see the first signs of new roots: little white or yellow bumps on the stem. When you do, remove them from the willow water and plant them up in good moist growing mix.

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