Willow Water

I enjoy your TV shows and your web site, especially the garden tips. On a recent report you mentioned using willow water to help with propagating plants by rooted cuttings. What is willow water? How is it made?

I have received many emails this week about the willow water rooting mixture that I mentioned during a gardening report about making stem cuttings. Rooted cuttings are always a popular topic with viewers.

Although not all plants can be propagated by placing stem cuttings in water, many of our old-fashioned favorites are suitable for this such as coleus, chicken gizzard, wandering Jew and sweet potato vine.

The process is really simple. All you do is take a 4 to 5 inch long cutting from a plant and remove the lower leaves, but keep some at the top. Then place the cutting in water.

I like to use a ceramic container rather than a clear glass container because the lack of light helps to promote more root growth. Now if you really want to stimulate, even accelerate, root development you can do this by using an old fashion solution called willow water.

Willow trees are some of the easiest plants to propagate and hormones found in willows can be used to help promote root growth in other plants. Willow water is a concentrated solution of these hormones.

To mix up a batch of willow water, simply cut a few stems of willow branches about the diameter of a pencil that are green and supple. Then cut the branches into 1 inch pieces and smash them with a hammer. Next, bring a pot of water to a boil, drop the willow stems into the water and remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to steep, stirring occasionally. Once cooled, it is ready to use. Dip the ends of the plant cuttings you want to root into the solution before dropping them into the jar of water or pots of soil.

In addition to using willow water for rooting cuttings, you can also pour it around young transplants to help accelerate their root development.