How to Make a Rooting Tonic

Rooting tonics, also called rooting hormones or rooting compounds, are products that contain plant growth hormones used to stimulate root growth during plant propagation. Many commercially-sold rooting products contain a synthetic form of indolebutyric acid. If you have access to a willow tree or shrub, you can easily make your own rooting tonic, because indolebutyric acid occurs naturally in all varieties of willow trees.


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    Collect approximately 2 cups of willow branches or 3 cups of bark.
    • Choose small, young branches that are no thicker than a pencil. The highest concentration of hormone exists in the youngest branches.
    • You can also use bark from live older willow branches or trunks. If you go this route, you need to use more bark because it contains less hormones.
    • Do not gather old dead branches from the ground, as they will contain very little indolebutyric acid, if any.
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    Cut the willow branches into pieces between 3-to-6-inches long. If using bark, cut it into 2-to-4-inch pieces.
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    Put the willow into a pan or bowl that is large enough to hold the clippings plus a gallon of water.
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    Boil 1 gallon (3.8 L) of water and pour it over the willow clippings.
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    Allow the willow and hot water to brew for 12 to 24 hours.
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    Pour the liquid into glass containers with lids that close securely and discard the pieces of willow. You can store the tonic in the refrigerator for up to two months.
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    Use the rooting tonic when propagating new plants.
    • Soak the tips of your cuttings in the rooting tonic for several hours before planting them.
    • In addition to encouraging the growth of a strong root system, the willow rooting tonic inhibits the development of bacteria, fungus and viral disease.


  • Honey may also be helpful as a rooting agent. Dip the cut end of the plant in the honey and then put it in the soil immediately. Alternately, you can boil 2 cups of water, add 1 tablespoon honey, and soak the end of the plant for several hours before putting it in the soil.
  • Some people have reported success using aspirin as a rooting tonic. To try this method, dissolve an uncoated aspirin in 1 cup of water, then soak the cut end of the plant in the water for several hours before planting.
  • Add approximately 1/2-cup willow rooting compound to 1 gallon (3.8 L) of water and use the mixture to water the young seedlings during the first few weeks of growth.
  • Wheat can also be used for cutting. For example with pelargonium. Split the end of the rod and put a grain of wheat and put in the water. The seed will germinate and stimulate the production of roots on cuttings.
  • An alternative method is to put some willow cuttings in water and when the first roots appears, use this water as rooting tonic.

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Categories: Indoor and Patio Plants | Planting and Growing