Honey As A Root Hormone: How To Root Cuttings With Honey
By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden
Did you know that honey may contain enzymes for promoting root growth in plants? It’s true. Perhaps you can give it a try, too. Keep reading to learn more about how to use honey for cuttings.
Honey as a Root Hormone
We all know that honey has many health benefits. It is, after all, a natural antiseptic and contains anti-fungal properties — both of which are believed to be one of the reasons honey as a root hormone seems to work so well. In fact, just 1 tablespoon (15 mL.) of honey is said to contain about 64 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates, most of which come from sugars, and seems to provide plants with a much needed boost just as it does for us.
In addition to containing possible rooting agents, it is thought that using honey for cuttings helps guard against bacterial or fungal problems, allowing the little cuttings to remain healthy and strong.
Honey Plant Growth Recipe
If you’re willing to give this natural means for rooting a try, then you’ll likely find more than a few recipes floating around, all of which can be used. That said, you might want to experiment to find the one that works well for you, yielding the best results. Some people have even added honey to willow water to aid in rooting. But just to get you started, here’s one of the more basic ones that I have come across for making a honey/water mixture for your cuttings (this can be adjusted as necessary).
- 1 tbsp (15 mL) honey
– Pure, or raw, honey is said to be better than regular store-bought honey (which has been processed/pasteurized, thus taking away the beneficial properties) and yields the greatest results. So when obtaining store-bought honey, ensure the label specifies that it’s “raw” or “pure” honey.
- 2 cups (0.47 L.) boiling water
– Mix the honey with your boiling water (do not boil the honey itself) and allow to cool. Place this mixture in an airtight container (such as a mason jar) until ready to use, storing it somewhere away from light. This mixture should keep up to two weeks.
How to Root Cuttings with Honey
When you’re ready to begin using honey to root cuttings, you will need to first prepare your cuttings and potting medium. Your cuttings should be anywhere from 6-12 inches (15-30 cm.) in length and cut on about a 45-degree angle.
Now simply dip each cutting into the honey mixture and then stick them into your selected potting medium. Honey for cuttings has been found effective using a number of potting mediums, including soil, water and even rockwool.
- For soil-based mediums, it’s easiest to poke a hole for each cutting with a pencil (or your finger) for insertion. Also, make sure to keep your soil moist. (If desired, you may cover with ventilated plastic) The same concept would also apply to your soilless mediums.
- When rooting in water, put your cutting directly into the water immediately following its placement in the honey.
- Finally, rockwool planting mediums should be well saturated and deep enough to support your cuttings.
Once all of your cuttings have been dipped and placed into their potting medium, simply wait for your cuttings to begin rooting, which should be within a week or so.
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How to Use Root Stimulator When Planting
Root stimulator products applied soon after planting contain fertilizers and hormones intended to boost root and plant growth for faster establishment in the soil. There is no solid research to support the efficacy of root stimulants, but neither is there research to disprove the claims of the various root stimulants. While the jury is still out, many gardeners apply root stimulator products and claim to see benefits. The amount of root stimulator to use increases with the size of the plants to be treated.
What is a Rooting Hormone?
A rooting hormone is a naturally occurring or synthetic hormone that stimulates root growth in plants. You might be surprised to learn that most plant cuttings will naturally produce their own rooting hormones after a short period of time. In fact, many plants can easily be cloned by simply placing the cutting in some clean water.
However, some plants are finicky and do not grow well with this method. Other plants may take a really long time to develop roots without the use of a rooting hormone. This slows down the production of the entire garden. The use of a rooting hormone will also generally provide more consistent results than cuttings placed in just water.
Auxins are one of the main plant hormones that aid in the creation of initial root growth. More specifically, indole acetic acid (IAA) is the natural auxin found in plants that is responsible for natural root stimulation.
IAA is involved in just about every aspect of plant growth and development, including the formation of embryo development, induction of cell division, stem elongation, vascular tissue differentiation, fruit/flower development, tropic behaviors (leaves and stems moving toward the light source) and the induction of rooting.
Most rooting products do not contain IAA but rather a synthetic form of indolebutyric acid (IBA) and/or napthaleneacetic acid (NAA). These rooting hormone products come in different forms, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
You can use Apple Cider Vinegar as a natural rooting hormone. Vinegar commonly used in homes is for starting and spreading plants. This is an easy way through which you can grow new plants from your indoor and outdoor plants at a low cost. If you are going to grow a new plant from cuttings, then make a healthy start by dipping the root stimulation to the tip of the cutting, the percentage of success will increase. Many gardeners say that cutting can grow without rooting hormones, this is true, but it increases the chances of success. However some plants such as English ivy, pothos, etc. give root quickly without any help. Read more .
How to Find Willow Shoots if You Don't Already Have Any
Part of the reason for doing this is to save money, so don't buy willow if you don't have to (and if you do, buy as little as possible).
- Because willow grows so prolifically, it's usually fairly easy to find some by asking around on Craigslist or on gardening forums in your area.
- If a neighbor or friend has a willow tree, ask if you might cut a cutting or two.
- Or, with permission , snip a few cuttings from trees in a wilderness area, such as a county park, bird sanctuary, or even a ditch on a rural road.
Or what are your ideas? If you have an idea on how to get willow shoots ethically for free, PLEASE share in the comments below!
Using Rooting Hormone on a Stem Cutting
Use a clean knife or shears to remove a fresh, healthy stem cutting from a parent plant. The parent must be vigorous and healthy, and make sure the growing tip is between three to eight inches long. Cut the topmost few inches from the stem. Make the cut near a node, which is a slightly swollen knob on the stem. Remove any leaves or flowers from the node area.
Moisten the bottom few inches of the cutting so the rooting hormone can adhere to it.
Pour some rooting hormone into another clean vessel and dip (or roll) the bottom few inches of the cutting into it. Do not dip the cutting directly into the original rooting hormone container. Don't apply the rooting hormone any higher than the final planting depth of the cutting. Shake off the excess powder by lightly tapping the cutting against the edge of the container.
Plant the cutting in a soilless potting medium. Make a hole in the potting medium with a pencil or similar tool. Make sure the planting hole is wide enough so that the rooting hormone is not rubbed off as you sink the cutting into the soil.
Tamp down the soil around the cutting to remove any air pockets. Water lightly (a spray bottle works well), and keep the cutting warm at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Root systems develop best when the cutting is not placed in direct sunlight.
Make Rooting Hormone at Home
Rooting hormone can be made naturally. DIY Make your own rooting hormone using ingredients like Willow water, honey, cinnamon and aspirin at home. These are the best options for rooting hormones.
Homemade Rooting Hormone From Willow Tree
Willow bark contains natural plant growth hormone which can be used for rooting new cuttings.
Willow and other Salix species contain indolebutyric acid (IBA) and Salicylic acid (SA). Indolebutyric acid (IBA), the plant hormone that stimulates root growth is present in high concentrations in the growing tips of willow branches. By using the actively growing parts of a willow branch, cutting them, and soaking them in water, you can get significant quantities of IBA.
Salicylic acid (SA) is a plant hormone which is involved in triggering the plant's internal defences when there is an attack on one part of the plant. It helps plants to fight off infection by bacteria and fungi which is the biggest threat to cuttings to be propagated. Salicylic acid is therefore in use as a rooting agent for many many years.
How to Use Willow To Make a Rooting Hormone?
- It is used to make Willow Water which contain both the SA and IBA.
- Collect one year old twigs and stems of Willow (any Salix species). Remove all the leaves and cut the twigs into 1" (2.5 cm) long pieces. 2 inch pieces of willow bark can also be taken.
- Soak the twigs in a few inches of water for 2-3 days or soak in boiling water and allow to stand overnight.
- Remove the twigs. The liquid is now ready to use for rooting cuttings.
- Put the liquid (willow water) in an air-tight bottle and store it in refrigerator. You can use this liquid for two months.
- Use the willow water to soak cuttings for 12 hours, or use it to water newly started cuttings.
- Note that this method is not standardized as to the strength of the willow water, the number of twigs, and the exact time that the twigs should be soaked. But still this liquid can be tried that will help your plants root.
Homemade Honey Rooting Hormone
- Honey is a natural fungicide and antibiotic. It can also be helpful as a rooting agent, although it does not contain any hormone to encourage roots, but it contains antibacterial properties as well as the enzymes that help form rooting and protect the cuttings from rotting from fungi and bacteria. It is a garden safe rooting hormone.
- Boil 1 cup of water and add half a tablespoon of honey to it. Use this mixture after it cools down. This mixture can be stored in shade for 3 weeks in airtight bottle.
- Soak the end of the cutting for 2-3 hours before planting it.
Licking Helps Rooting
Because saliva is an antiseptic, some people say that literally licking the cutting end before planting has similar effect as honey tea.
Homemade Rooting Hormone From Aspirin
- Some people have reported success using aspirin as a rooting agent.
- Dissolve an aspirin tablet in 1 cup of water to make an aspirin rooting hormone, then soak the end of the cutting in the water for several hours before planting.
I have tried only the honey and rooting hormone powder for my cuttings to propagate blueberries, roses, azaleas, etc.
The licking of the cuttings may leave burning and other taste effects on your tongue, so I don't recommend this method.
Homemade Rooting Hormone Cinnamon
As cinnamon has antibacterial properties and may act as a rooting hormone. The cinnamon rooting hormone can be used to protect the stem cuttings from fungi and decay during the rooting process. Just dip the cut end of the cutting in a dilute solution of cinnamon.
OR sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon powder into the hole before inserting the cutting.
Aloe Vera For Natural Rooting Hormone
Since the Aloe vera contains plant hormones such as gibberellin, therefore, we may use it instead of chemical growth hormones. You can make your own cloning gel for plant propagation by using aloe vera. Aloe vera contains Salicylic acid along with other beneficial compounds.
You can make Aloe vera rooting hormone for your plant cuttings. Use fresh Aloe Vera gel found inside the Aloe Vera leaves, or you can use Aloe Vera powder for cloning plants. I just cut a thick Aloe leaf from my Aloe Vera plant and move the clone end over the gel before inserting in the rooting media.
You can buy aloe powder from health food store. Take some of this powder and mix with water to form a gel and use it for cloning. I have found aloe vera as the best natural rooting hormone.
You can make your own rooting hormone using the above mentioned natural ingredients.