Originally uploaded by peter-rabbit
Hey! This is important! I just learned that it's really easy to make a DIY version of rooting hormone solution. Rooting hormone is used when gardeners and orchardists want to propagate plants from cuttings. I've never used it, mostly because I've never really wanted or needed to grow plants this way. Not to mention I'm suspicious of most chemical things sold for use with plants. But cuttings are one of the best ways to obtain - or give - plants cheaply. Sometimes it's the best way from a genetic standpoint too, since not all plants produce offspring which share the desirable qualities of the parent plant. Obviously, I'm no expert at plant propagation by cuttings. I'm pretty sure that some plants do a lot better than others with this method though, and I know cuttings are made from various parts of different plants (stem, leaf, etc.) So do a little research before relying on cuttings and rooting hormone for any critical propagation.
So...here's all it takes to make your own rooting hormone dip. Find a healthy, vigorous willow tree and take several cuttings of its branches with plenty of fresh green leaves on them. Any variety of willow will work. Where I live, willows leaf out just ahead of almost any other tree in the spring, so if you don't have a willow tree of your own, keep your eyes open in spring to locate some in the wild or in parks. Look near running water or in swampy areas. Spring is a good time to propagate things from cuttings too, so it seems fortuitous that willows are conspicuous at this time. Strip a small pile of leaves from the willow branches and chop them up finely as you would a culinary herb. Including some of the very soft willow branches in with the leaves is fine. You should have 2 cups (~ 0.5 liter) of well chopped willow material. Put it in a large non-reactive container, such as a stoneware bowl. Cover with 1 gallon (~ 3.8 liters) of boiling water and let it steep overnight, up to 24 hours. If you can't boil water, room temperature water will do, but let it steep for a full 24 hours.
That's your rooting hormone dip, ready to use as you would any commercial rooting dip. After it has steeped you can store it, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to two months apparently. But if you have easy access to willows, it's probably best to make up a fresh batch each time you want to propagate from cuttings. This willow rooting solution has the added benefit of retarding fungal, bacterial, and viral infections in the cutting. So you can soak your stems in the willow solution immediately after cutting them if you need to get your pots and soil ready. Pretty nifty, I'd say, for a product that's free for a pleasant hour or so of effort.
Being able to make your own rooting hormone dip is a great tool for permaculturists, frugal gardeners, and
Other news: honey bee arrival has been delayed by yet another week. Came home yesterday with fig trees and will get them into their large containers within a few days. Post coming on the figgy details.