If you want to increase your plant yield using natural products you have at home, check out this post on the best natural rooting hormone recipes.
Imagine walking out to your yard, full of lush and healthy plants that will sustain your family in the months ahead. But wait, first you have to successfully grow those plants. Did you know there’s a shortcut to increase your plant yield?
It’s called rooting hormone, and, when applied correctly to plants, can dramatically increase the survivability of your plants. Best of all, there are lots of ways to make rooting hormone using kitchen items I bet you have on hand right now. Below I’ll explain everything you need to know about rooting hormone, including how not to use it, and what plants most benefit from rooting hormone. If you’re ready to dramatically increase next summer’s crop yield, read on!
What is rooting hormone?
Rooting hormone, or root stimulating hormone, is a hormone that plants naturally produce to begin the root growth process.
To get a little more scientific about it, auxins are root stimulating hormones, and specifically, indole acetic acid (IAA) is the name of the auxin that plants use.
Not only do rooting hormones stimulate growth, but they also help curb bacteria and fungus that may prevent a plant from thriving.
Will rooting hormone help my plants grow?
Yes! By applying a rooting hormone to fresh cuttings, you can increase your success rate. The reason is quite simple. When you make a cutting of a plant you are introducing an injury to the plant. That injury (the cut stem) is a perfect entrance for fungus and bacteria to enter.
By applying a rooting hormone you can mimic the natural auxin found in the plants and reduce the likelihood of a bad infection in the plant.
Is store-bought rooting hormone toxic?
Most commercially made rooting hormones are made of Indole-3-Butyric Acid (IBA), and it is a naturally occurring auxin just like IAA. In small amounts, using the proper protective gear (gloves), you should have no reason to fear IBA itself. Another ingredient in powered rooting hormone is talc, however, which can irritate if you get into your eyes or breathe it in.
That said, in concentrated amounts or if routinely get it on your hands over say, several days of planting season, you may experience some irritation.
While generally safe, always follow the instructions on the label closely.
What Types of Rooting Hormone Are There?
When it comes to the commercially made rooting hormones, you can buy it in liquid, powder, or gel form.
Why use natural rooting hormone?
Even given the relative safety of commercially made rooting hormone, many organic growers still prefer to use homemade rooting hormone.
From an emergency preparedness standpoint, I prefer to know how to make my own in the event I can’t get any in town (and spoiler alert: it’s very easy).
Do all plant cuttings need artificial rooting hormones?
No, many plants do great with rooting on their own. However, you will increase your planting success rate if you use a rooting hormone. You’ll also speed up the rooting process for plants that already root easily on their own.
What types of plants benefit most from rooting hormones?
It will be especially beneficial to use rooting hormone on plants with a naturally slow root growing process, like trees and shrubs. Or, if you’re trying to start your plants in a less than ideal setting, using a rooting hormone will help give your plants a boost.
Do not use rooting hormones on plants that need to propagate in water.
Here are a few forbs that do best when used with a rooting hormone:
- Some daisy varieties
Tips for Using Rooting Hormone
Don’t Contaminate the Rooting Hormone
All of the rooting hormone recipes I share below are liquid in form. To keep your batch of rooting hormone clean and free of pathogens, always pour a small amount of the rooting hormone into a separate cup to dip the cuttings into.
Don’t Overdo It
I get it. I’m excited to plant my summer crops and even more excited when they start to sprout. Don’t give in to the temptation to use more rooting hormone than is described below. Too much rooting hormone can definitely damage a plant, thus backfiring on your plans for a big, successful bounty.
Don’t Apply Root Hormone to the Leaves
Applying rooting hormone to the leaves damages them. It’d be like pouring motor oil all over the top of your engine. Not really the way it’s supposed to work, right?
Make Clean Cuts
Use clean shears to make your initial cuttings, and when you’re ready to dip them into rooting hormone, strip off the bottom leaves on the stem.
What is Rooting Medium?
Before I discuss these natural rooting hormone recipes, I need to explain what I mean by rooting medium. Rooting medium is the special soil I use to put brand new cuttings into. It is a thinner and lighter mixture of natural components that gives new plants plenty of breathing room for their little roots to grow.
Natural Rooting Hormone Recipes
Apple Cider Vinegar
This might be one of the most popular natural rooting hormones out there. To make this rooting hormone simply mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into 6 cups of water. Don’t make your concentration too strong, or you will kill your plant.
At low concentrations, apple cider vinegar has compounds that mimic those root stimulating hormones.
Simply dip the end of the plant (about an inch) into the solution, then plant it in your rooting medium.
Honey has is anti-bacterial and you can use it to make rooting hormone. Simply boil three cups of water and add 1.5 Tablespoons of honey.
Let the mixture cool down (placing cuttings in boiling water may cook them!), and then use the mixture like you would the other liquid rooting hormones.
The salicylic acid in willow bark acts as a natural root stimulator. You can take advantage of the fact that you probably have a bottle of aspirin laying around the house to help your plants! Simply crush and dissolve a single aspirin tablet into a gallon of water.
For best use, let the cuttings sit in the mixture for a few hours before planting.
You can also go straight to the source of salicylic acid and use fresh willow stems (ie, the new growth in the spring) to make a tea. Willow bark contains not only salicylic acid but the IBA hormone discussed above.
Boil the water and place some fresh stems in the water. Boiling the stems allows those two compounds to be released from the bark. The IBA helps stimulate roots and the salicylic acid helps prevent fungal growth.
To make this willow tea take a handful of the new willow shoots, strip off the leaves, and cut them into about 1-inch pieces. Place the pieces in a glass jar. You’ll then pour boiling water on top. You want the ratio of water to stems to be about ⅔ water and ⅓ stems.
Allow the “tea” to sit for at least 24 hours, and there you have it.
When you think about it, cinnamon comes from bark, and just like the willow water concoction mentioned above, the bark has properties that stimulate root growth and reduce fungal and bacterial infections.
Cinnamon works particularly well with damping off disease, which often affects new seedlings.
To use cinnamon as a rooting hormone, simply dampen the end of your cuttings then tamp them down on some cinnamon, and plant them!
Aloe Vera Gel
This will work best if you have access to a fresh aloe plant. The blue or green colored gel stuff they sell at the pharmacy won’t cut it.
Fresh aloe vera also has salicylic acid, and you just squeeze a little fresh gel on the ends of your cuttings to get them going.