Plant propagation is a perfect way to extend the use of your household and garden plants without having to buy a new one from the local nursery or garden center every year. But in order to grow new plants from the cuttings of your mature ones, you need to give those new roots the best possible chance to thrive. And that’s where the rooting hormone plays a crucial role!
Read on to learn about how to make your own homemade rooting hormone–including step-by-step instructions for several common rooting hormone agents you can find or make right at home.
What is Rooting Hormone and Why Should You Make it at Home?
Let’s start with a crash course on all things rooting hormone–because even if you’ve heard of this term before, you might still be wondering what, exactly, it is!
Rooting hormone is a gel, powder, or liquid that encourages the cell division and acceleration of root growth in plant stems and root tips–also known as “plant cuttings.” Rooting hormone is typically used in propagation in order to speed up the process of plant cuttings and laying down their new roots so that the plant can quickly grow and thrive.
While there are all kinds of different rooting hormones on the market today–some of them organic, others synthetic–you also have the option to make your own homemade rooting hormone. This option is easier and in many cases, much preferred over synthetic options.
As much as possible, it’s wise to take an organic approach to helping your plants propagate. This avoids the spread of chemicals that can be harsh or harmful to the soil, as well as harmful to humans or animals who come into contact with them.
If you are using rooting hormone to help propagate edible plants or herbs as well, you will want to avoid the use of synthetic rooting hormone, as it has the potential to spread to the edible parts of herbs.
That’s why your best bet is to use homemade rooting hormone…and luckily, that’s quite an easy task! There are numerous options for homemade rooting hormone…and many of them, you likely have laying around your house.
Homemade Rooting Hormone Ingredients (and How to Use Them)
A spicy baking favorite, cinnamon is good for much more than just an added kick to a cup of homemade hot cocoa or a batch of French Toast. Powdered cinnamon makes for an excellent homemade rooting hormone, as it will help prevent the spread of fungus or bacteria that could compromise your young plants or halt root growth.
In addition, cinnamon can help curb ant activity since ants don’t like the texture of powdered cinnamon.
To use cinnamon as your homemade rooting hormone, you will need just some powdered cinnamon and a paper towel! Place the paper towel on a flat surface and dump about a tablespoon of cinnamon onto it. Then, get the ends of your cuttings damp–not soaked, but just wet enough to help the cinnamon stick to the stems.
Next, you need to coat the ends of your cuttings on all sides with powdered cinnamon. The best way to do this is by rolling them gently in the cinnamon powder.
After that, you can plant your cutting in a pot full of organic potting soil–and you’re done!
Raw honey is well known for its gut friendly properties as well as the role it plays as a natural combatant against seasonal allergies. But another benefit of unpasteurized, raw honey is that it can serve as a fantastic and easy homemade rooting hormone.
When using honey as your rooting hormone, it is important to avoid using the standard honey you find on grocery store shelves. Make sure you pick up raw or pure honey, as the pasteurization process of many name brand honeys reduces the honey’s ability to limit bacterial growth on your plant cuttings.
To use honey as a homemade rooting hormone, you will need to start with a pot filled with water…at least two cups. Get that water up to a full boil, and then add a tablespoon of honey, stirring gently until the honey blends into the water.
Next, remove the honey and water mixture from the heat and let it cool a bit, then place the mixture in a canning jar or other tightly lidded container. Make sure your plant cuttings are properly prepared–to use this rooting hormone, your stems need to be cut at a 45 degree angle and be at least six inches long, but no longer than a foot.
Dip your plant cuttings in the mixture of water and honey, then place them in your potting soil. You can stash any of your leftover honey homemade rooting hormone for up to two weeks in a dark environment, so long as the container is properly sealed.
With its wide range of uses for treating ailments such as sunburns, rashes, and general skin irritation, it’s no wonder many people like to keep a hardy aloe vera plant on hand! The good news is, if you’re one of those people and you’re looking for options for homemade rooting hormone, your aloe vera gel can do the trick! This plant perfectly fills the “gel” category usually occupied by synthetic rooting hormones.
As an added benefit, aloe vera gel is also antifungal and antibacterial in its natural properties. This will further help protect your propagating plant cuttings.
If you don’t grow your own aloe vera, you do have the option to buy a whole leaf from your local grocery store or supermarket. Aloe vera gel, however, as sold for the treatment of burns, irritation, and rashes, will not work unless it’s in a perfectly pure, undiluted form. You don’t want to use a medical aloe vera gel as it will have other compounds added to it that will likely kill off your plant cuttings.
To use aloe vera gel as a homemade rooting hormone, you will need to use an uncut leaf and a sharp, thoroughly cleaned kitchen knife. Place the aloe vera leaf on a cutting board with the tapered end of the leaf pointing toward you. Cut into the opposite, broad end of the leaf, which should be facing away from you.
Using a rounded edge of a kitchen spoon, push on the leaf from the smallest end to the largest, using steady pressure to force the gel out from the cut you made. Spoon the gel into a cup and stir it until it becomes a more uniform gel and most of the chunks dissolve.
Now you can dip your plant cuttings into the gel, making sure to get a good, even coating in a single layer. Then you can plant your cuttings in potting soil.
Apple Cider Vinegar
If you’re familiar with the many health benefits of apple cider vinegar, it likely comes as little surprise that your plant cuttings can also benefit from using this medium as a homemade rooting hormone. Apple cider vinegar has natural antibacterial properties, making it a fantastic protectant of vulnerable plant cuttings.
Unlike other homemade rooting hormone bases, apple cider vinegar can cause harm to the stems of your plant cuttings if too much is applied, So you want to make sure you use this powerful homemade rooting hormone in proper doses.
To use apple cider vinegar or just the right amount of homemade rooting hormone, you will want to pour about five or six cups of water into a bowl. Then, add no more than a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to the water. Gently dip your plant cuttings into the blend of apple cider vinegar and water, but make sure not to soak them. Just get them wet.
And that’s all you have to do! Now you can plant your cuttings in potting soil and watch them thrive.
This may be the hardest element to find for homemade rooting hormone on this list…but willow water works as a fantastic augment for many other homemade rooting hormone mediums. Using willow water to dampen plant cuttings or to blend with your honey base will help give your propagated plants a serious boost!
Why is that? Well, willow water–which comes from willow trees–is full of naturally occurring indolebutyric and salicylic acids. These compounds help reduce bacteria, fungi, and other illnesses that can prevent the growth of your propagated plants.
There are also other natural properties found in willow water that can speed up and enhance the propagation process of your plant cuttings, leading to faster root growth and healthier propagated plants overall.
So, where do you find this highly coveted and useful water for your homemade rooting hormone? Willow water can be found within young willow tree branches or end shoots. To obtain it, you will need to remove some twigs from a willow tree in the spring, when these twigs are still green.
Strip the shoots or twigs of all leaves, and either compost or discard them. Then, chop all of your twigs down to about an inch long. Boil some water and place the willow cuttings with the boiled water in a ratio of one part twigs to two parts water.
Let the twigs sit in the water for about a full day, then strain the water into another glass jar, keeping out all willow trimmings. Place the stems of your plant cuttings in this willow water for up to several hours, then proceed with applying other homemade rooting hormone mixtures–or simply plant the cuttings directly in the soil.
You can also use this willow water, boiled and mixed with honey, to augment your honey-based homemade rooting hormone. It can also be the water base you mix with your apple cider vinegar to cut its potency before applying it to your plant cuttings.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is rooting hormone necessary for growing plant cuttings?
The answer to this is yes and no.
There are many types of plants that could give or take the use of rooting hormone. Particularly in non-woody plants, such as mint, you can often have an easy time propagating them without the use of either store-bought or homemade rooting hormone.
However, hardwood cuttings, like from a mature lavender plant in the cold months or a dogwood, a homemade rooting hormone can make or break whether the root cuttings will flourish or wilt.
It’s also important to consider the vitality and strength of the roots growing from your plant cuttings–not just whether they take root at all. Your use of a homemade rooting hormone can help strengthen the rooting system and increase the amount of cuttings that take root, even in prolific growers like mint.
Wrapping up Homemade Rooting Hormone
Are you feeling excited and well-equipped to use these common, everyday household items (and a bit of a natural touch!) to make your homemade rooting hormone?
Be sure to check out our Gardening page! There, you’ll find guides on how to propagate all sorts of plant cuttings–from lavender to pothos to mint and more!